$10 Million Awarded to Fight HAIs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is awarding $10 million for new research to five academic medical centers as part of its Prevention Epicenter grant program, which supports efforts to develop and test innovative approaches to reducing infections in healthcare settings.

"Discoveries through the CDC Prevention Epicenter program have had great impact on decreasing healthcare-associated infections, or HAIs" says CDC director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH. "With prevention epicenters, we can expand our current knowledge and save even more lives as we work toward our goal of eliminating HAIs."

The CDC estimates that 1 out of 20 hospitalized patients will acquire an infection while receiving treatment for other conditions.

"The Prevention Epicenter program discovers solutions and refines them so they can work to prevent infections for all healthcare settings," says John Jernigan MD, MS, director of the CDC's Office of HAI Prevention Research and Evaluation. "During the past decade, some of our biggest breakthroughs in healthcare infection prevention have been rooted in research of the Prevention Epicenter program, and we look forward to future advances."

The innovative strategies that will be explored include:

- The use of combinations of bleach and ultraviolet light to clean hospital rooms to help prevent infection

- New tests that help distinguish patients who need antibiotics from those who don't, as a means to prevent antibiotic- resistant infections

- Methods that can help doctors anticipate when medical devices being used to treat a patient are on the verge of causing an infection, so that device-associated infections can be averted before they begin

- Treating patients with living microorganisms that are harmless to the patient but compete with harmful germs, as a means of preventing healthcare-associated infections

The following are the institutions participating in the Prevention Epicenter Program, representing affiliated hospitals:

Chicago Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Prevention Epicenter

- Cook County Health & Hospital System

- Rush University Medical Center

Duke University Prevention Epicenter

- Duke University, Durham, N.C.

Translation Prevention Research Epicenter

- Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Wellesley, Mass.

Southeastern Pennsylvania Adult and Pediatric Prevention Epicenter Network

- University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa.

Washington University and BJC Epi-Center for Prevention of Healthcare Associated Infections

- Washington University, St. Louis, Mo.

The CDC began the Prevention Epicenter program in 1997 to promote new ways to address difficult health care problems such as reducing the burden of HAIs and antibiotic resistance. CDC names new Prevention Epicenters every five years based on peer-reviewed grant applications. The Prevention Epicenters select and collaborate on joint research projects.

The program has provided a forum in which academic leaders in healthcare epidemiology can partner directly with each other and with CDC experts to conduct innovative research designed to fill knowledge gaps in the science of preventing HAIs. Closing these knowledge gaps inform the solutions of the future, saving more lives. Because the Prevention Epicenters investigators work as a group, there is an emphasis on multi-center collaborative research projects, many of which would not be possible for a single academic center. This collaborative research provides an ideal way for potential solutions to be tested, refined and adjusted for clinical practice.