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Two medical research teams picked for “March Madness” of science

Michigan Medicine researchers studying opioid prescribing and tinnitus compete in just-for-fun STAT Madness tournament

Basketball fans can’t wait for the March Madness tournament — but medical science has its own version, and two Michigan Medicine teams have made it to the big dance.   

Called STAT Madness, it’s an online tournament of science run by the STAT health news organization.

Two Michigan Medicine teams were picked to compete, based on important research they published in 2018. Anyone can vote for them, and for teams competing in 30 other matchups of research from around the country. The first round of voting ends Thursday at 11:59 p.m.

Voting is entirely online, and can be done here.


More about the Michigan Medicine teams:


One team, based in the departments of Otolaryngology and Biomedical Engineering, developed a promising technique to treat tinnitus. That’s the condition that causes annoying, or even disabling, phantom noises in the ears.

Led by Susan Shore, Ph.D. of the Kresge Hearing Research Institute, they were chosen for their paper in Science Translational Medicine reporting research results from treating animals and humans.

Since the paper came out, they have enrolled dozens more people in a clinical trial of the device they created after years of basic research into the causes of tinnitus. They’re seeking to commercialize the device, and they’ll compete under the Michigan Medicine name. Read more about this work on the Michigan Health Lab site.

The other team, led by residents and faculty in the Michigan Opioid Prescribing and Engagement Network or Michigan-OPEN, were chosen for a paper in JAMA Surgery that proved that surgery patients in many hospitals were receiving prescriptions for far more opioid painkillers than they actually used. This raised their risk of persistent use of these medications.

The team used this knowledge to create the first-ever opioid prescribing guidelines for surgeons. They’ll compete under the name of the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation (IHPI); the lead researchers are residents and faculty in the departments of Surgery and Anesthesiology, and members of IHPI. Read the Michigan Health Lab story about this work.

The tournament will continue through March, and anyone can sign up to receive updates when each new round of voting begins.

The field of competitors will narrow week by week until the final two teams are standing — right at the end of basketball’s March Madness.

Last year, Michigan Medicine made it to the Round of 8 in STAT Madness with an entry focused on antibiotic-resistant microbes in nursing homes. In the first year of the tournament the organization’s researchers who study the microbes that inhabit human lungs made it to the final round.

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