Trauma Research and Combat Casualty Care Collaborative will provide integrated, groundbreaking approaches to trauma research and care at UT Health San Antonio
The University of Texas System Board of Regents on Nov. 17 approved $2.5 million to establish the Trauma Research and Combat Casualty Care Collaborative (TRC4) at UT Health San Antonio in partnership with University Health’s Level 1 Trauma Center at University Hospital and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The collaborative leverages longstanding local and regional partnerships with University Health and the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council (STRAC). The new trauma care research center will be the first and only one of its kind in the United States, according to UT System.
Trauma injuries are the leading cause of death and permanent disability in children and adults under 44 years of age. TRC4 will serve to address the critical need for improved trauma care in the United States — both on the battlefield and in the civilian sector — to dramatically improve the care, health outcomes and survival rate for trauma injuries.
“The UT Regents are firmly committed to elevating patient care in Texas and across the country, and this trauma care research center will save lives and support our dedicated servicemembers,” UT System Chancellor James B. Milliken said. “TRC4 will also create new commercialization and device development opportunities right here in Texas. We are proud to have built one of the strongest and most advanced networks of trauma care and research in the world, and we look forward to finding solutions that meet this critical need.”
“We are honored to be the center selected to host this statewide collaboration of trauma researchers throughout The University of Texas System,” said Ronald M. Stewart, MD, trauma surgeon at University Hospital and faculty of the Department of Surgery in the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine. “UT Health San Antonio and its key clinical partner, University Health, have more than half a century of experience in trauma care and research. Adult and pediatric trauma teams within University Hospital’s American College of Surgeons Verified Level I Trauma Center provide the region with outstanding trauma care. These trauma teams lead many life-saving innovations critical to the injured patient, such as the regionwide use of cold-stored whole blood. Facilitating the UT System collaboration will accelerate knowledge discovery and dissemination within the trauma care community for the benefit of our patients.”
He added: “This partnership furthers UT Health San Antonio’s and University Health’s longstanding collaboration with our U.S. Department of Defense partners in San Antonio, particularly through STRAC’s integrated military-civilian trauma system in conjunction with Brooke Army Medical Center, the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research and the U.S. Air Force 59th Medical Wing.”
“Trauma unfortunately is suffered every day of the year,” said University Hospital trauma surgeon Susannah Nicholson, MD, associate professor of surgery in the Long School of Medicine and director of trauma research. “It takes complex medical response and care to save lives and set patients on the path to recovery. In the wake of the tragedies in Uvalde and Sutherland Springs, the public attention has been increasingly focused on trauma services. We are very pleased that The University of Texas System Board of Regents has recognized the urgent need for research to improve trauma care as we serve our region and state.”
Trauma care — also called Combat Casualty Care (CCC) in the U.S. military — is currently the No. 1 challenge for military medicine, and a leading cause of death and disability among the civilian population. An estimated 6 million patients suffer from trauma wounds and an additional 1.2 million patients from burn wounds in the United States, costing more than $25 billion per year — more than double the cost of heart disease and nearly triple the cost of cancer and diabetes.
“There is no system better suited for this pioneering trauma care research center than The University of Texas,” said John Zerwas, MD, executive vice chancellor for health affairs at the UT System. “Our world-class network of trauma and research centers combined with the deep pool of qualified DoD and trauma care talent in San Antonio uniquely positions UT Health San Antonio to successfully advance the CCC field of research across all UT institutions.”
While TRC4’s base of operations will be at UT Health San Antonio, the work and research conducted will serve all 13 UT System institutions, including but not limited to ongoing collaborative research initiatives at UT Health Houston, UT Southwestern and UT Medical Branch Galveston.
The UT System Board of Regents’ $2.5 million investment in the new trauma care research center matches an initial in-kind commitment toward the project made by the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research. The UT System’s investment will cover early start-up costs for the collaborative, which includes hiring executive leadership and administrators, developing the TRC4 strategic plan, establishing the peer review process and providing initial research funding.
The establishment of TRC4 is the latest advancement to come from a partnership launched in 2021 between the UT System and the Army Futures Command/U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research. Subsequently, all UT institutions and Institute of Surgical Research leadership approved a legal framework that enables further expansion of their collaborative efforts. This framework was signed by Chancellor Milliken and the Army Futures Command in April 2022.