Saturday, November 8, 2003

Thumbs up: Fifth Third grant

$1 million for Shriners

A $1 million grant from Fifth Third Bank allowing Shriners Cincinnati Burns Hospital to hire a full-time research director should help the hospital rev up its research and add to "Pill Hill's" growing research might.

Dr. Steven Boyce says the full-time research director can help Shriners link up its separate research projects and collaborate more with University of Cincinnati and other medical centers. Dr. Boyce leads a team of Shriners researchers that has been developing an innovative process to culture a skin substitute for covering large burn wounds. From a quarter-sized piece of skin, the team can grow skin grafts 65 times as large. Other Shriners researchers are studying ways to genetically modify the cultured skin to increase resistance to infections.

An expanded research program at Cincinnati Shriners could especially benefit younger burn victims. The Cincinnati hospital is one of four Shriners burns centers nationwide and the only one that offers a specialized air transport service for pediatric burns victims. Children account for more than 35 percent of all fire and burn injuries and deaths, according to Shriners. The Cincinnati hospital has 30 inpatient beds. In 2002, it admitted 288 acute care patients and 711 patients for rehabilitation care.

The Fifth Third Bank grant befits a hospital run unlike almost any other health care organization. All services are paid for by donations from Shriners and the public. There are no bills for services - not to families, health care insurers or the government.

Shriners Cincinnati Burns Hospital now gets about $3.4 million a year for burn-related research. The hospital specializes in four research areas: covering wounds, controlling inflammation and infections, shock reactions and nutrition. A new research director can help accelerate that work and attract more research dollars.

Biomedical innovation has become a top economic development objective for this region. Shriners' full-time research director is another piece in developing that industry.

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Thumbs up: Fifth Third grant
Thumbs down: Drake pitch
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