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Alan Faden, MD, Appointed as Director of New Organized Research Center for Shock, Trauma and Anesthesiology Research

Monday, June 29, 2009

 Dr. Alan Faden hopes to build collaborative research projects among various departments and programs.

University of Maryland School of Medicine Dean E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., has appointed Alan I. Faden, M.D., a scientist and physician with extensive expertise in the treatment of brain trauma and other central nervous system injuries, to serve as director of the University of Maryland Charles “McC.” Mathias, Jr., National Study Center for Trauma and Emergency Medical Systems, a Shock, Trauma and Anesthesiology Research (STAR) Organized Research Center. Dr. Faden will join the University of Maryland School of Medicine faculty on July 1 as a professor, with a primary appointment in the Department of Anesthesiology and membership in the Program in Trauma.

Dr. Faden was recruited from Georgetown University, where he developed a nationally renowned research program in brain injury and served in a variety of clinical, research and administrative roles, including as Dean of Research. He formerly held professorships in neuroscience, neurology, pharmacology and pediatrics. He will bring more than $7 million in research grants, including four major grants from the National Institutes of Health, as well as 15 members of his research team to the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

“Dr. Faden not only brings a national and international reputation as a research scientist, but he also will build bridges between basic science and clinical science,” says Dean Reece, who is also vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland. “Dr. Faden will actively lead the development of translational research as a two-way street. He will ensure that findings in the laboratory will eventually benefit patients, and challenges in patient care will inspire creative treatment approaches and new prevention techniques that will be tested in the laboratory,” adds Dr. Reece.

The new Shock, Trauma and Anesthesiology Organized Research Center is the only facility of its kind in the United States dedicated exclusively to the study of injury and its complications and prevention. It is a multidisciplinary research and educational center focusing on trauma, critical care and organ support, resuscitation, injury prevention, perioperative clinical outcomes and patient safety. The executive committee of the center will include leaders of the Program in Trauma, the Department of Anesthesiology and other disciplines.

According to Thomas M. Scalea, M.D., professor and director of the Program in Trauma at the School of Medicine and Physician-in-Chief of the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center, “All of us are excited about the launching of the new STAR Organized Research Center and about Dr. Faden in particular, and his ability to harness all the building blocks of research in trauma. We look forward to working with him,” says Dr. Scalea.

Peter Rock, M.D., M.B.A., professor and chair of the Department of Anesthesiology at the School of Medicine, says, “Dr. Faden is a world class scientist who has received continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health for years. His work in brain injury and brain trauma are areas we identified as important components of our program, so his research is a perfect fit. He also possesses many outstanding personal qualities, including being collaborative, collegial and energetic.”

“With Dr. Faden’s recruitment and the creation of the Shock, Trauma and Anesthesiology Organized Research Center, the School of Medicine has reaffirmed its longstanding commitment to the study and treatment of head injuries and trauma,” says Bruce E. Jarrell, M.D., professor and executive vice dean at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Medical understanding of these two areas is advancing rapidly, and Dr. Faden’s research will help propel that. The center will play a pivotal role in the future of head injury and trauma research and treatment, not just for civilians but for the military as well. We’re confident the STAR Center’s work will help the military to protect and treat its soldiers,” says Dr. Jarrell.

Dr. Faden began his research at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, with studies that addressed mechanisms of shock and cardiovascular regulation. “I have long been interested in brain and spinal cord regulation of the heart and blood vessels, which ultimately led to research related to shock and subsequently neurotrauma,” says Dr. Faden. “I chose neurology as a specialty because of the remarkable complexity of the brain and the fact that there were few effective treatments at that time. Working to develop new therapeutic approaches for clinical neuroscience has been a goal since residency training.”

Dr. Faden’s current research centers on delayed or secondary injury after brain or spinal cord trauma. He is trying to understand biochemical changes that lead to subsequent cell death and tissue destruction as well as how to block such damage. A recent focus has been directed to common pathways that link acute injury processes such as trauma or stroke and chronic neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Faden underscores the increasing interest in traumatic brain injury as a consequence of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Early medical support in the field and use of body armor now enable soldiers to survive injuries that were lethal in previous wars. Because of that and the marked increase in blast-related trauma, the percentage of soldiers suffering head injury now exceeds 20 percent of those deployed to war zones.” At the same time, he notes that sports-related head injuries have become better recognized, with much improved clinical research on high school and college athletes who suffer brain trauma.

Dr. Faden says he looks forward to working with the leadership of Drs. Rock and Scalea, as well as current STAR Center investigators, “to build upon the existing strengths at the University of Maryland and by promoting collaborative research within the School of Medicine and across the schools and university campuses.”

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