The University of Chicago Medicine, the University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern Memorial Hospital have joined a new national network that will work to conduct clinical trials in emergency medicine.

The network, created by the National Institutes of Health and named SIREN (Strategies to Innovate EmeRgENcy Care Clinical Trials) has designated 11 hospitals, such as UCLA and Massachusetts General Hospital, as research centers, or “hubs.” The three Chicago hospitals are “spokes” to the hub at the Medical College of Wisconsin. The network’s coordinating center will be at the University of Michigan.

The hospitals will collaborate to conduct clinical trials to improve outcomes for patients with cardiac, respiratory, neurologic, hematologic and trauma-related emergency events.

“There have been few clinical trial networks in emergency medicine. It’s a nice opportunity for multidisciplinary collaboration within systems and across other systems,” says David Beiser, M.D., associate professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of Chicago and co-principal investigator.  

Because a greater number of hospitals are participating, more patients can be enrolled in clinical trials. Moreover, since the SIREN network is comprised of a diverse group of hospitals, the research can be conducted with very different populations.  “It gives us the opportunity to recruit patients often forgotten by researchers, such as immigrants,” says Marina Del Rios, M.D., assistant professor of emergency medicine at UIC and co-principal investigator on SIREN.

“It’s a great opportunity for this specialty to make progress and move science forward for some of the sickest patients we have, like [those with] cardiac arrest, brain trauma and stroke, where it’s been difficult to make progress, says Beiser.

The first clinical trial is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2018. The trials will be funded by NIH, the Department of Defense and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.

The network is also expected to improve research overall. “There’s a lack of infrastructure and boots-on-the-ground assistance in enrolling patients in trials to make these trials possible. SIREN will break down silos and will build clinical research capacity across multiple institutions, says Beiser.

“This is a way of getting a large number of trials running at your hospital. You can’t do big science by yourself. You need to create networks,” he says.