Michigan Center for Integrative Research in Critical Care

Critical illness and injury is a silent epidemic that affects more than 5.7 million Americans every year. It has an enormous societal and economic toll, yet is not well understood. The Michigan Center for Integrative Research in Critical Care (MCIRCC) was started just four years ago with the goal of transforming critical care medicine to improve patient care and outcomes.

Led by Kevin Ward, M.D., MCIRCC’s mission is to accelerate science from bench to bedside. Dr. Ward notes, “The integration strategies and resources we have launched are producing collaborations and creativity on a scale that I don’t think has ever been witnessed or achieved in the field of critical illness and injury. We are truly developing and realizing solutions that for decades simply seemed out of reach.”

The Catalyst Framework

MCIRCC uses a unique Catalyst Framework, an innovative business model which unifies scientists, clinicians, engineers, industry partners, and diverse funding streams. The Catalyst provides end-to-end management of the research pipeline, utilizing multidisciplinary team science, big data analytics, specialized funding sources, and tailored commercialization plans to push research beyond the idea stage:

  • Proposal Development Unit: Intensive proposal development support for multidisciplinary teams, including proposal integration, production, and submission.
  • Commercialization Coaching: Tailored entrepreneurial services, such as project management and startup creation, that accelerate innovative solutions to the bedside.
  • Clinical Research Unit: Streamlines the process for investigators by assisting with the development and execution of clinical pilot studies, and with IRB protocol support, patient engagement, and data collection.
  • Large Animal ICU Facility: One-of-a-kind lab that provides viable, demonstrable models to accurately simulate complex human disease and treatment options in the pre-clinical stages of critical care.
  • Data Science Team: Responsible for developing an advanced analytics platform that captures high-fidelity physiological waveform data from critical care patient beds, which can be utilized for research and clinical needs.
  • Funding Opportunities: Access to funding through MCIRCC’s Grand Challenge, which targets big problems in critical care and rewards bold solutions.

Fostering Multidisciplinary Team Science

Over the past 30 years, there have been limited developments in the way that critically ill and injured patients are cared for. To challenge conventional thinking and generate new ideas, MCIRCC has broken down research silos by bringing together investigators from disciplines across the University of Michigan. At the forefront of this endeavor are MCIRCC’s Associate Directors, who represent several major pillars of critical care:

  • Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine (Robert Dickson, M.D.)
  • Biomedical Engineering (Xudong Fan, Ph.D.)
  • Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases (Rodney Daniels, M.D.)
  • Mechanical Engineering (Jianping Fu, Ph.D.)
  • Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics (Kayvan Najarian, Ph.D.)
  • Pharmacy (Kathleen Stringer, PharmD)
  • Anesthesiology (Michael Maile, M.D.)
  • Acute Care Surgery (Kathleen To, M.D.)

With their leadership, MCIRCC has fostered collaborations between researchers across 32 departments (from 7 U-M Schools and Colleges) and paired them with key stakeholders for maximum impact.

FY 2017 Numbers

  • 170+ world-class scientists, clinicians, and engineers across 32 departments
  • 10 new invention disclosures
  • 2 MCIRCC spinoff companies
  • 8 new patents pending
  • 181 member-authored or co-authored critical care journal articles
  • 7 schools and colleges represented by members
  • $280K from FFMI Kickstart
  • $635K from FFMI MTRAC
  • $451K from Coulter Translational Research Partnership Program
  • $1.2M from Joyce and Don Massey Family Foundation
  • $24.6M in federal funding
  • $159K in industry funding
  • $82K in foundation funding

The Grand Challenge

Each year MCIRCC hosts its Grand Challenge competition, which funds high-impact, milestone-driven research that addresses a major critical care problem. The Grand Challenge has thus far focused on developing innovative solutions for sepsis and traumatic brain injury, but will broaden its scope in the coming years to cover additional critical care issues, such as cardiac arrest and pediatric critical care.

A generous gift from the Joyce and Don Massey Family Foundation provided support for MCIRCC’s 2017 event, the second Massey TBI Grand Challenge, which addressed the golden hours of care after severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBI affects more than 1.7 million Americans each year, and poses a significant challenge in the armed forces where it is considered a “signature injury.” MCIRCC has partnered with the Department of Defense’s Combat Casualty Care Research Program to help accelerate the movement of translation research outputs into both battlefield and civilian settings.

“Our emphasis on strategic teaming with industry and partnerships with key stakeholders like the Department of Defense, the Massey Foundation, FFMI, Coulter, the U-M Office of Technology Transfer and others are also helping us drastically cut the development cycle to get our innovations to impact.” -Executive Director Kevin Ward, M.D.

Following a rigorous application and review process, seven teams received funding totaling $680,000 to develop innovative diagnostic, device, therapeutic, and health IT solutions.


From left to right:

  • Rodney Daniels, M.D., Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases
  • Robert Dickson, M.D., Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
  • Kathleen Stringer, PharmD, Pharmacy
  • Kayvan Najarian, Ph.D., Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics
  • Kathleen To, M.D., Acute Care Surgery
  • Michael Maile, M.D., Anesthesiology
  • Xudong (Sherman) Fan, Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering
  • Jianping Fu, Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering

For more MCIRCC news, go to mcircc.umich.edu.

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