The $100-million search for the genomic response to trauma
The Princeton findings are the latest to stem from a 10-year, $100-million effort to unravel the genomic underpinnings of why people experience vastly different outcomes to similar traumatic injuries. Based at Massachusetts General Hospital, the Inflammation and the Host Response to Injury (IHRI) project brought together more than 60 researchers from various U.S. universities. The IHRI consortium studied 1,977 severely injured and burned patients at U.S. trauma centers from 2003 to 2011, and the Princeton researchers worked with data from 168 of those patients. The National Institute of General Medical Sciences, a division of the National Institutes of Health, funded the project through its Large Scale Collaborative Projects, or "Glue Grant," program.
The work conducted at Princeton produced one of the project's most significant findings -- that at the genetic level, the human immune system is in fact very consistent from person to person -- said Ronald Tompkins, the IHRI project's principal investigator and a co-author of the PLoS Medicine report.
Conventional medical wisdom has long held that the reason a horribly injured 20-year-old is released from the hospital after seven days, while a 65-year-old with similar injuries eventually dies, is because the basic elements of their immune systems are completely different, said Tompkins, who is the chief of burns service at Mass General and a professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School. That assumption makes complications hard to predict and manage. Desai, Storey and Tan, however
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