Media Contact: Kylie Urban 734 764-2220

University of Michigan and U.S. Department of Defense partner for traumatic brain injury research

TBI Grand Challenge seeks project proposals aimed at impacting severe traumatic brain injury

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The University of Michigan Center for Integrative Research in Critical Care (MCIRCC) has partnered with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to find new research aiming to impact the way severe traumatic brain injury is diagnosed and treated.

MCIRCC and the Combat Casualty Care Research Program (CCCRP), a subsidiary of the DoD and the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, signed an agreement in November 2015 to begin executing a series of collaborative activities focused on severe traumatic brain injury (TBI).

The partners will work together to host The Massey Foundation TBI Grand Challenge which invites researchers to engage and partner in groundbreaking research in severe TBI and to submit project proposals for funding. A TBI is a form of brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head (or even a penetrating head injury) that ultimately disrupts the normal function of the brain.

Funding will be awarded to teams developing diagnostic, device, therapeutic or health information technology solutions that address the initial “golden hour” and critical 24 to 48 hours of care following a severe TBI. The “golden hour” refers to the treatment administered during the initial hour after injury which can determine patient survival and have a significant effect on long-term function and disability.

Projects will be funded from a pool of up to $500,000 for a 12-month timeframe and will be reviewed by the Massey Grand Challenge Steering Committee, which includes researchers, physicians and scientists from U-M and neurotrauma leadership from the DoD.

TBI is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. with 52,000 deaths per year. Approximately 2.5 million people sustained a TBI in 2010 alone.


“Most people don’t know that the Department of Defense service members and their families represent the largest U.S. population suffering from TBI,” says Kevin Ward, M.D., executive director of MCIRCC and professor of emergency medicine at U-M. “The fact we are able to partner with the Department of Defense on this project is a force multiplier for both organizations.”

“The Department of Defense brings their own set of expertise and resources to help us get this research into both the civilian and non-civilian clinical setting,” he adds.

This is the inaugural year of The Massey Foundation TBI Grand Challenge thanks to a generous gift from the Joyce and Don Massey Family Foundation. The Massey family had their own experience with TBI after mother and wife, Joyce Massey, was injured in a car accident. The effects of TBI left her ability to function daily seriously impaired, including difficulty with speaking, eating and breathing.

The Massey family gave their gift to U-M in early 2015 in hopes of sparing other families from experiencing what they endured. It includes funding for clinical research, technology innovation, translational research, a patient/family support fund and the annual TBI Grand Challenge.

The TBI Grand Challenge will kick off this week with a summit where researchers will learn more about the funding opportunity and hear from a variety of guest speakers on the subject, including military members and their families that have also been affected by TBI.

“We’re proud to partner with the University of Michigan on The Massey Foundation TBI Grand Challenge,” says Alicia Crowder, Ph.D., manager of the Neurotrauma & Traumatic Brain Injury Portfolio for the CCCRP. “We hope to support projects with follow-on funding specifically from the Department of Defense that prove they can be used by our medics in the field. It’s an exciting time for research and treatment of an injury that affects so many of our service members.”

To learn more about the MCIRCC:

To learn more about the Department of Defense:

To learn more about The Massey Foundation TBI Grand Challenge:

To learn more about The Joyce and Don Massey Family Foundation gift to U-M:

NOTICE: Except where otherwise noted, all articles are published under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. You are free to copy, distribute, adapt, transmit, or make commercial use of this work as long as you attribute Michigan Medicine as the original creator and include a link to this article.

Media Inquiries:  734-764-2220 8 a.m.-5 p.m. ET 

734-936-4000 after hours, weekends, and holidays (ask for the PR person on call) for embargoed news, videos & more