The Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation

The Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation

Elinor Svenson, benefactor the the 2015 Stepping Strong Innovator Awards, with winner Bohdan Pomahac, MD, Audrey Epstein Reny, Steven Reny, and Brigham and Women's Health Care President Betsy Nabel, MD

Meet the Innovator Awards Winners

Bohdan Pomahac, MD, director of plastic surgery transplantation, was named a winner of the 2015 Stepping Strong Innovator Awards—a $100,000 grant to advance trauma research and care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). More than 5,000 votes from all 50 states and 74 countries were cast for the competition.

Pomahac and his team have developed a portable machine that may be able to keep detached limbs—arms, legs, hands and feet—alive for at least 12 hours, and perhaps up to 48 hours. This is considerably longer than the current survival time of four to six hours. The award will allow the team to determine exactly how long limbs can survive with this new technology.

“Thank you very much to those who voted for us and a special thanks to the fellows and the rest of the team for their hard work,” said Pomahac, after accepting the prize during the all-day Discover Brigham event held on October 7. “Without a doubt, the funding from Elinor Svenson will contribute to major advances in the area of limb salvage. It is a tremendous honor to take this work further and push for new therapies for our patients, and we are very grateful.”

Following Pomahac’s remarks, Brigham and Women’s Hospital Health Care President Betsy Nabel, MD, made a surprise special announcement that other competition finalists—Su-Ryon Shin, PhD, of the Department of Medicine, and Omid Farokhzad, MD, of the Department of Anesthesiology—would also be awarded $100,000 from her president’s fund to pursue their groundbreaking projects.

2015 Stepping Strong Meet the Finalists

Pictured above: Stepping Strong Innovator Awards winner Edward J. Caterson, MD, PhD, with benefactors Guy and Betty Reny.

A few weeks later, in a closed-door voting session held November 5, plastic surgeon Edward J. Caterson, MD, PhD, was awarded the final $100,000 grant of the 2015 Stepping Strong Innovator Awards series. Titled “Healing Injuries in the Traumatic Extremities,” Caterson’s hypothesis is that a clear, thermoplastic gel, which becomes solid when warmed to body temperature, can be used to encase open traumatic wounds and deliver topical antibiotics to trauma patients, thus preventing cross-contamination of infected wounds. Caterson was one of three Stepping Strong Innovator Awards finalists along with researchers Reza Abdi, MD, and Ali Khademhosseini, MD, PhD.

“The gel is a safe material that will isolate the traumatic wound from a microbiologic perspective, but still allow for direct care and observation of the site,” says Caterson. “We are incredibly grateful to Guy and Betty Reny for funding this award, which will allow us to initiate this exciting research.”