By Mark Wheeler

Stroke is the second leading cause of death in Los Angeles County. To cut those numbers, it’s imperative that new treatments be developed and refined for stroke prevention, acute therapy and recovery after stroke.

Now, a three-way partnership between the USC Comprehensive Stroke and Cerebrovascular Center at Keck Medicine of USC, the UCLA Stroke Center at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, and UC Irvine Health Comprehensive Stroke & Cerebrovascular Center has been awarded a $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to address these three stroke priorities. 

Together, the three universities will form the Los Angeles–Southern California Regional Coordinating Center, which will marshal a network of 49 acute stroke and rehabilitation medical centers throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties. Combined, these centers will perform five to 10 stroke-related clinical trials that will examine ways to improve prevention and enhance therapies and recovery. Within this network, 12 working groups with expertise in specific neurovascular research will facilitate the implementation of these trials and serve as a resource to the Regional Coordinating Center’s leadership and the individual sites.

Keck Medicine of USC and Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center will jointly lead the center.

The Regional Coordinating Center will have three fundamental aims:

• To perform high-quality trials of promising stroke therapies throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties.

• To ensure the participation of more individuals from underserved populations in the trials, including women, Hispanic-Americans, African-Americans and members of other minority populations.

• To educate and encourage fellows, residents, medical students, premedical students and junior faculty to engage in stroke translational research.

To receive the NIH award, the three institutions were required to demonstrate that they have clinical science excellence, specialized expertise in stroke management, a strong background in stroke research and a proven ability to recruit stroke patients. Each is characterized by strong collaborative relationships between vascular neurology, emergency medicine, interventional neuroradiology, neurosurgery, neurointensive care, neuroimaging, stroke rehabilitation and pediatric neurology.

“With this proven expertise, we will be able to offer every eligible patient the opportunity to participate in a trial conducted through the network,” said Gene Sung, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of neurology and chief of the division of neurocritical care and stroke at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

All participating stroke centers have committed to increasing clinical research data value through data sharing.