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Collaborations and Partnerships

With the continuing partnerships and those that are being forged at each of our campuses, VCOM is uniquely aligned to solve major problems facing the health of our communities. We are excited about continuing to grow our research enterprise with these strong partners.

VCOM's Collaborative Research Partners Through Virginia Tech

VCOM’s long and productive partnership with Virginia Tech has resulted in multiple joint research programs funded by NIH, NSF, DOD and numerous other federal and private sponsors.  Our collaborations cover a variety of research areas and novel, cutting-edge techniques in reproductive development, autoimmune disease prevention, drug discovery for stroke recovery, and traumatic brain injury treatment for athletes and soldiers.

VCOM and Virginia Tech, Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics Research

Research Collaborations between VCOM and Virginia Tech’s Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics departments date back to 2003. In partnership with Virginia Tech Athletics and the Center for Injury Biomechanics, our this research team partnership became the first to instrument collegiate football players’ helmets with a unique accelerometer array to study head impact biomechanics and the clinical syndrome of mild traumatic brain injury in collegiate football. The data from this unique, innovative pilot project has led to several federally-funded and industry sponsored research projects that have been successfully completed or are currently ongoing.  One such ongoing project, the NCAA-DOD Grand Alliance: Concussion Assessment, Research and Education (CARE) Consortium, is a multi-site program to improve the evaluation, treatment and prevention of injuries related to sports-related concussion and mild traumatic brain injury. Another outgrowth of this line of research is our current collaboration with Wake Forest and Brown to study the biomechanical basis of Pediatric mild traumatic brain injury due to sports related concussion. The pilot data that led to this 3 year project has already resulted in significant changes to Pop Warner football rules which have enhanced the safety of youth football.

National Sports Medicine Research

VCOM sports medicine physicians are nationally known for research programs and regular collaborations with scientists at Virginia Tech in biomedical engineering and at the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Sciences; their recognition continues to grow as VCOM develops partnerships at Auburn University. VCOM faculty will lead the profession in the evaluation, innovative treatment and prevention of sports injuries. Total research expenditures to date for the VCOM-VT Sports Medicine related projects is $1,543,403. Through our collaborative concussion research program, one of the best in the country, we are participating in the NCAA-Department of Defense (DOD) “Grand Alliance” as an Advanced Research Core School. The total approved budget amount for the NIH pediatric mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and the NCAADOD projects is $3,958,382 over the next five years. VCOM research has been instrumental in creating change that will reduce the risk of prevent head injuries for current and future players in the future, from improvement in of helmets design to findings that changed rules for youth football and collegiate football.

"Center for One Health" VCOM and Virginia Tech / Virginia Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine Research

The newest initiative set forth between VCOM and Virginia Tech is the Center for One Health Research; created and announced in early 2015.  Designed to be a collaborative research venture between VCOM and the Virginia Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM), the Center will promotes joint VCOM-VMRCVM research programs for issues relevant for both humans and animals.  The Center will includes the Veterinary College in Virginia, and all three VCOM campuses, and also includes joint research projects at the VCOM international mission sites.  Center faculty from both VCOM and VMRCVM will utilize research facilities and infrastructure at all locations for a wide variety of education and research programs conducted within the Center.  Projects will currently include a wide variety of infectious disease research protocols from basic studies of disease mechanisms, transmission and detection in humans and animals, to translational projects designed to develop and test novel vaccines, treatments and therapies to treat these diseases. In addition, research teams will are investigatinge a wide range of public health and educational research projects related to environmental factors for humans and animals in a variety of settings.  A major feature of the Center will beis the central involvement of VCOM and VMRCVM students in the collaborative disease prevention, public health and global health research projects.

Among the Center’s primary objectives are to establish programs of investigator-initiated research; thus the Center funds research projects by teams of researchers from both VCOM and VMCVM.  In the first round of funding, six grants were awarded to collaborative teams, and the second round awards will be announced soon. For more information on the projects awarded, please see One Health Research Projects.

The development of the Center allows VCOM to pursue an innovative and cross-disciplinary research agenda that is in alignment with our core mission and values. VCOM and VMRCVM researchers have a long history of fruitful collaboration, and this new enterprise will only enhance opportunities and increase our success. For more information on the One Health Initiative, please visit http://www.onehealthinitiative.com/.

VCOM and Spartanburg Regional / Gibbs Cancer Research Center

VCOM continues to strengthen its successful partnership with the Gibbs Cancer Research Center and Spartanburg Regional Health System. We are working with Gibbs to finalize our joint Stem Cell Research Facility, and our cooperative research programs continue to flourish. VCOM and Gibbs are involved in several joint research proposals based upon novel cancer detection techniques.  These research collaborations have resulted in grant submissions to the National Institutes of Health, the latest with the potential of having a profound effect on the way cancer is diagnosed and treated in low to middle income countries.

VCOM maintains a research presence and our Carolinas Campus faculty engage in collaborative work at Converse College.  Several of our researchers work in a fully operational animal lab facility located in Converse’s Phifer Science Hall. Current work at this lab includes immunology and microbiology research in immunotherapeutics for cancer, and lymphatic function in chronic inflammatory disorders such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

VCOM's Research with Auburn University

In 2012 Auburn University and VCOM began the development of a public/private partnership.  A strategic commitment of this alliance is to expand human biomedical research opportunities for the faculty and students of both schools. VCOM's partnership with Auburn University provides immediate research collaborations with Auburn’s engineering, pharmacy, and veterinary schools, as well as nursing and kinesiology programs.

Both Auburn and VCOM share research interests in bioengineering, human movement related to sports medicine, osteopathic medicine, and physical medicine therapies. To build a strong base for collaborative programs, both partners have committed internal seed funding to use for pilot projects in these areas of research. In addition, our partnership with Auburn allows VCOM access to state-of-the-art medical equipment at Auburn for our osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) research needs, including one of just 28 7-Tesla MRI systems in the United States.