Paving the way to better care through research

In 2016, staff at Hartford HealthCare participated in hundreds of medical research studies, designed to test, improve and advance new drugs, devices and methods of treatment that save and better people’s lives.

 Perhaps the most familiar form of medical research is the cancer clinical trial, in which patients volunteer to participate in studies to test the efficacy and safety of new medical interventions. This kind of research is well-known by the public: 94 percent of people surveyed had heard of clinical trials; 65 percent felt clinical trials are important, and 35 percent said they would be likely to enroll in a clinical trial. The Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute is assuming an active, advanced role in cancer research through its membership in the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance. The institute is participating in 26 MSK clinical trials in seven cancer types: gynecologic, breast, bladder, head and neck, urinary, pancreatic, and myeloma-related.

Less well known by the public is the broad range of medical research going on here in fields other than cancer – ranging from psychiatry and anesthesia to surgery and cardiology and beyond.

Here’s a small sample of research at Hartford Hospital:

Dr. David Tolin is leading a clinical study to try to determine the best kind of therapy for patients with hoarding disorder.

Drs. Courtland Lewis and Rick Sheppard are investigators for the REGAIN Trial, a multicenter study designed to evaluate post-operative patient outcomes and independence levels following surgery with general or regional anesthesia.

Drs. Godfrey Pearlson and Michael Stevens were awarded a several-million-dollar grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to study the effects of smoked marijuana on the brain and driving risk.

The Institute of Living’s Anxiety Disorders Center is conducting a research study to help children who may be suffering from school-related stress.

Breast surgeon Dr. Kristen Zarfos has launched a five-year study to look at the effectiveness of breast ultrasound screenings in diagnosing African-American women ages 25 to 39 years old, who seem to be at higher risk for developing aggressive breast tumors.

Dr. Katie Propst was awarded a grant from the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists to fund research in minimally invasive gynecology.

Several Hartford HealthCare partners are collaborating on research to determine if “virtual” physical therapy sessions improve recovery following joint replacement surgery.

The first two patients in Connecticut with severe aortic stenosis who were considered low risk for conventional surgical aortic valve replacement were successfully treated with TAVR using the Edward’s valve as part of the recently approved Partner 3 trial. In both patients, the procedure was successful with complete abolishment of their aortic valve gradient and with no evidence of paravalvular aortic insufficiency. The procedures were performed by Dr. David Underhill, Dr. Immad Sadiq, Dr. Francis Kiernan and Dr. Raymond McKay. All patients with aortic stenosis, regardless of their risk for conventional surgery, can now be considered as potential TAVR candidates.