Trauma & Critical Care

We are committed advancing trauma care to save lives and reduce disability.

Our Trauma & Critical Care Research

Our internationally recognized trauma and critical care research initiatives are helping to improve the care and outcomes of patients who have suffered devastating, life-threatening traumatic injuries. Traumatic injuries are the number one cause of death and disability for individuals under the age of 44. Sadly, trauma takes lives of more young Americans than all other causes of mortality combined. Our research spans translational, clinical and advanced basic scientific investigations to better understand the mechanisms involved in the human body's response to these sudden, severe injuries.

The goals of our research initiative – one of the largest in the United States with over 40 active trauma research programs – is four-fold:

  1. To save lives and improve quality of life for survivors
  2. To minimize disability and other long-term consequences of traumatic injuries
  3. To reduce the economic and social impact of injuries
  4. To advance the trauma care field, enhance outcomes and improve the quality of care nationally and internationally

Discoveries by faculty, in the laboratory and through clinical trials, are changing how trauma specialists care for patients – before they enter the hospital, in our emergency and operating rooms, and long after they go home.

Visit our Faculty & Lab Directory for a list of all the centers, programs, labs, and independent investigators in the Department of Surgery.

Themes & Impact

Our faculty reach across disciplines. They identify new treatment approaches and new drug targets. They invent devices and technologies. They develop faster, less invasive and more sensitive diagnostic tools to prevent dangerous complications. And they uncover the reasons for the great disparity of outcomes seen among trauma victims in order to improve survival and quality of life for all patients. 

As part of a Level 1 pediatric and adult trauma and burn center verified by the American College of Surgeons, faculty research probes a wide range of questions. Collaborative teams focus on key issues with direct impact, and the work of our faculty has led to important advances and paradigm shifts in trauma and critical care:

  • Improved hemorrhage control and resuscitation before patients can get to a medical facility
  • Improved burn treatment and prevention of scarring and other painful and debilitating consequences of severe burns, including heterotopic ossification
  • Improved care in the ICU through adoption of best care practices, and evidence-based guidelines
  • New treatments to lessen the long-term impact of traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Novel biomarkers and approaches to diagnosing and treating severe systemic infection, or sepsis, that often develops in trauma patients
  • New biomarkers to monitor treatment of trauma-related injuries, including TBI
  • Novel strategies to minimize the consequences of traumatic injury, shock and sepsis, including multi-organ damage and in patients with serious comorbidities such as diabetes and obesity
  • Discovery of mechanisms and molecules underlying the inflammatory processes in lung contusion that cause progression to respiratory failure
  • New approaches to treating acute lung injuries, including ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation).

Partnerships & Collaborations

Faculty contribute their expertise and leadership to many industry and institutional collaborations. Our faculty are part of a 13-institution consortium, the Clinical Trials Network for the Prevention and Early Treatment of Acute Lung Injury (PETAL), to design trials around treatment and prevention of acute respiratory distress syndrome. The effort is funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Faculty also participate in the Michigan Trauma Quality Improvement Program, a collaboration among 29 trauma centers around the state that share best practices focused on lowering the costs of care and improving trauma care quality, and it is led by Dr. Mark Hemmila