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Impacting Critical Care with the SCCM-Weil Research Grant

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Research paves the way to better critical care. It is discovery and innovation that help secure future advances in the intensive care unit (ICU) for patients. The Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) understands this and has made research an integral part of its mission since the Society was founded. In its efforts to improve critical care medicine around the world and secure the highest quality care for patients, the Society supports researchers through grants funded by the SCCM-Weil Research Trust.

Named for the Society’s founder and first president, Max Harry Weil, MD, PhD, MCCM, the SCCM-Weil Research Trust commemorates his accomplishments in the field. Weil committed his entire life to the pillars of academic life through patient care, discovery, innovation, and education. His contributions to the field of critical care medicine are numerous—from research on shock and the establishment of a patient “shock ward,” to proposing the term “critical care” and the founding of SCCM, to introducing the use of computer techniques for patient monitoring.

Continuing this dedication to research, the Society awards the Trust’s SCCM-Weil Research Grant annually to SCCM members carrying out basic, translational, or clinical research. The grant has been awarded to 13 investigators in the past decade, supporting research in areas such as ICU delirium, sepsis, acute kidney injury, and more.

Krzysztof Laudanski, MD, PhD, FCCM, was the recipient of the 2014 SCCM-Weil Research grant for his project, “Long-Term Decline of Acquired Immunity After Sepsis in Humanized Mice,” which focused on determining whether sepsis induces a long-term aberration of the acquired immunity function. Today he continues his research of long-term immunologic consequences of sepsis in critical care and the ideas he was exploring with the grant.

When asked what findings the grant led him to, Laudanski said, “I developed and solidified my idea about how the immune system performs over time. It was an important part of my development because going from concept to data verifies and narrows down your research.” In Laudanski’s reflection on his experience, it becomes clear that the SCCM-Weil Research Grant not only offers the opportunity to influence the field of critical care research but also has a strong impact on the individual investigator

When asked about his experience with the grant, Laudanski emphasized its impact on himself as a researcher. In addition to providing money and time for his research, he described the greatest benefit of the grant being the confidence it gave him. “Being awarded by SCCM, the leading critical care medicine society, is an incredible boost to the feeling of whether or not your research is important,” said Laudanski. “Being trusted with these funds, I felt a great sense of obligation and pride at the same time.” 

The grant allowed Laudanski the opportunity to provide reviewers with pivotal preliminary data for National Institutes of Health K23 submission, publish two papers, and receive an award. He described how the grant helped him to establish credibility, putting him at the forefront of his department and teaching him how to advocate for himself

The next round of research supported by the SCCM-Weil Research grants will be conducted by the 2017 recipients, Sheila A. Alexander, BSN, PhD, RN, FCCM, and Scott L. Weiss, MD, MSCE.

Alexander’s project, titled “Temporal Inflammatory Gene Methylation Profiles and ICU Delirium,” will focus on increasing understanding of the complex pathophysiologic mechanisms, and specifically persistent inflammation, contributing to ICU delirium.

Weiss’s project, titled “Role of the Intestinal Microbiome in Mitochondrial-Induced Immune Dysregulation in Pediatric Sepsis,” will focus on the possible connection between the intestinal microbiome and immunometabolism in pediatric sepsis.

When interviewed about this research at the 46th Critical Care Congress in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, Weiss shared what he would like to accomplish with this research. “Our hope is that by expanding the paradigm of critical illness in pediatric sepsis to include the nonhuman intestinal microbiome that lives inside of all us, we can start to identify novel therapies.”

All of this research is essential to paving the way to better critical care. The Society looks forward to continuing its dedication to research as the past, present, and future SCCM-Weil Research Grant investigators advance the critical care field and improve outcomes for patients. ​