Innovation & Research

Our multidisciplinary teams work at the intersection of biomedical science, engineering and business to generate new knowledge that translates into better care.

worldwide research

Expanding the Coordination of research

Investigators in the Mass General Critical Care Center work collaboratively across the globe, learn more about these initiatives.

Discovery Happens Here

Massachusetts General Hospital coordinates the largest hospital-based research program in the United States. Our scientists translate basic scientific discoveries and use clinical trials to transform patient care. Mass General has a rich tradition of clinical innovation and major scientific discoveries in the care of our sickest patients.

Mass General's first ICU, the Respiratory ICU (RICU), was opened in 1961 by Dr. Henning Pontoppidan to improve outcomes for patients with lung failure requiring machine support. Later that decade, Mass General cardiac surgeons collaborated in the development of the intra-aortic balloon catheter to mechanically support failing hearts. Dr. Warren Zapol used membrane oxygenation and later used inhaled nitric oxide to treat severe lung failure in adults and children.

Today's innovators are studying how best to prevent vital organ failure, improve healing, and liberate patients from machines support. In collaboration with Mass General's multidisciplinary research centers, our teams work at the intersection of biomedical science, engineering and business to generate new knowledge that translates into better care. We expect that advances in tissue regeneration and cellular reprogramming will enable us to speed organ healing in the foreseeable future. A new Harvard Catalyst | The Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center program in Reanimation and Health Engineering explores the application of systems science, regenerative medicine and cellular reprogramming to improve outcomes for patients and families. The clinical goal is full reanimation after critical illness or injury.

A Collaborative Approach

Critical Care Center researchers work collaboratively within the hospital, the region, the nation, even around the globe to advance the practice of critical care. This means that our patients have access to the latest that research and clinical trials have to offer.

Mass General is the oldest and largest of Harvard University’s Academic Healthcare Centers and plays a key role in the Harvard Catalyst | The Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center. Harvard Catalyst is funded by the National Institue of Health (NIH) to improve human health by enabling collaboration and to provide tools, training and technologies to clinical and translational investigators. Founded in May 2008, Havard Catalyst is a shared enterprise of Harvard University, its 10 schools and 18 Academic Healthcare Centers. The Boston College School of Nursing, MIT, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and numerous community partners are also a part of Harvard Catalyst. All Mass General Critical Care Center investigators and their trainees have access to the rich collaborative network and significant resources Harvard Catalyst makes available.

Shared Responsibility

Mass General is a founding member of the U.S. Critical Illness and Injury Trials (USCIIT) Group, the mission of which is to foster investigator-initiated hypothesis testing and strategic planning at the national level. The USCIIT Group is funded by the NIH as a “network of networks” to:

  • Establish an inclusive, nationwide network of experts to review published data, establish national priorities, vet hypotheses, write clinical protocols, and generate pilot data
  • Promote interactions and synergy across established programs both academic and non-academic to improve the power of clinical trials and test hypotheses in U.S. populations across the patient age continuum
  • Provide a venue to discuss education and training in the science of clinical trial design including, conduct, analysis and reporting for critically ill or injured patients
  • Insure patient protection and privacy by addressing the ethical, legal and social implications of research in the specialized circumstance of critical illness or injury

Critical Care Center investigators participate in USCIIT Group programs that study prevention of organ failure, critical illness outcomes, bioinformatics and emergency preparedness.

Mass General also participates in the International Forum for Acute-Care Trialists (InFACT), a global collaboration of clinicians and researchers working in ICU’s around the world. InFACT’s first program was focused on improving the care of patients with severe H1N1 infection through high quality clinical research into its natural history and optimal treatment. Informed by a recent international consensus conference on severe acute respiratory illness, InFACT is preparing to conduct a global study to test alternative interventions for severe acute respiratory infection.

A Vision of Reanimation

The Critical Care Center’s vision for the future of intensive care is based on application of advances in health engineering and regenerative medicine to fully reanimate the critically ill and injured. This requires integrating advances in biomedical and engineering sciences. The Reanimation and Health Engineering program tests the hypothesis that application of systems, cellular and molecular engineering will improve outcomes, aiming to engineer health in our most vulnerable patient population. Scholars in this program work with clinical mentors and with colleagues from systems engineering, management, regenerative medicine and/or genetics to tailor a program to their specific interests and professional aspirations. Examples of current projects include quantitative modeling of patient flow through the hospital, ICU quality and value dashboards, measuring effectiveness of process improvement interventions, testing efficacy of telemedicine and mesenchymal stromal cell therapy for organ dysfunction. We expect that these projects will promote translational and clinical research that will lead to better patient outcomes through earlier liberation from labor- and resource-intensive technology used in today’s ICUs.

Read more about multiple organ reanimation, regeneration, and reprogramming.


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