The Massey TBI Grand Challenge aims to support researchers find new ways to diagnose, monitor and treat traumatic brain injury (TBI) during the early hours of care. This program is made possible thanks to a generous donation from the Joyce and Don Massey Family Foundation.

We tasked researchers with the goal of finding the most promising and innovative diagnostic, device, therapeutic, and health information technology solutions that target the ‘golden hours’ of care after severe TBI. Treatment administered during this critical timeframe can determine patient survival and have a significant effect on long-term function and disability.


Department of Defense (DOD) service members and families represent the largest U.S. population suffering from the impact of TBI. Through our partnership, the U.S. Army’s Combat Casualty Care Research Program brings expertise and resources to help accelerate the movement of translational research outputs into the field.

DOD Neurotrauma leadership members form part of the Massey Grand Challenge Steering Committee, assisting in reviewing and selecting proposals for funding, as well as provide mentoring to each of the funded teams.

This partnership provides our researchers with an invaluable relationship with key TBI personnel. Funded projects that drive toward proof of concept and human testing have the potential to receive follow-on funding from the DOD for solutions, therapies and products that can be used by DOD medics in the field.


Development of Intravenous Imatinib for Targeting PDGF Signaling in Traumatic Brain Injury

Current therapies for traumatic brain injury (TBI) focus on stabilizing individuals and on preventing further damage from the secondary consequences of TBI. Our previous study through Massey funding demonstrated the efficacy of Imatinib, a pharmaceutical, for the treatment of TBI. However, the Imatinib was administered orally and the most severe TBI patients will be unconscious and unable to swallow. Therefore we propose to develop an intravenous formulation and treatment protocol for severe TBI.  Imatinib is already approved by the FDA for other uses.  If our project is successful, we will begin planning for clinical trials for this new indication for ImatinibSuccessful development could improve TBI in both the civilian and military setting.

Using Advanced Genomic and Proteomic Technology to Ensure Valproic Acid's Success as an Early Treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury

The primary objective of this project is to identify Valproic Acid’s (VPA’s) mechanisms of action in the brain and to use this knowledge to ensure its successful transition into clinical use as an early treatment for TBI. The study will allow us to develop blood markers that will allow us to determine which patients will respond to VPA (precision medicine). We anticipate completing this objective in one year. With the support of the Massey Foundation we will use high throughput technology to determine how VPA protects the brain following injury, which may help us develop other targets for drug development. These approaches may have high impact for civilian and military TBI victims.  

Digital Extra-Ventricular Drain (EVD) with Integrated Intracranial Pressure (ICP) Monitor and Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF) Flow Monitor/Pressure Regulator

We propose the development of a digital external ventricular drain (EVD) system with integrated ICP monitor and CSF flow monitor/pressure regulator. The EVD will have the ability to automatically adjust to changing patient positions and condition while quantifying the amount of CSF drainage and alerting the caregiver to changes in ICP or CSF drainage. This device could not only be useful in the ICU or field hospital setting, but also during long military patient transport, and especially in situations in which limited personnel and resources are available.  Because the device will make automatic adjustments to changing patient position and CSF flow, it will also decrease caregiver workload making care of the patient with severe TBI safer. 

Automated Detection and Measurement of Subdural Hematoma Imaging Characteristics Following Traumatic Brain Injury

There is a strong unmet need for a technology that can rapidly and automatically detect subdural hemorrhages (SDHs) and estimate hematoma severity in the brain, thereby identifying patients who need urgent surgical evacuation. Due to their mixed appearance and location directly adjacent to the skull, automatic detection and measurement of subdural hemorrhage (SDH) on a brain CT scan is particularly challenging.  For this project, we will develop a software technology that will leverage algorithms to automatically detect and provide precise measurement of hematoma volume, brain compression and optic nerve diameter in brain CT scans of TBI patients with subdural hematoma.

Quantitative Pupillometry for the Acute Detection and Prognosis of Traumatic Brain Injury

Evidence suggests that quantitative measurements of pupillary light reflex (PLR) can reveal the presence of traumatic brain injury, indicate its severity, estimate intracranial pressure, and track brain recovery. This project will use ongoing human studies at the University of Michigan to provide clinical evidence supporting the use of quantitative pupillometry for precise measurements of PLR as a reliable biomarker for TBI.  Such a device could be used as a tool for first responders (civilian and military) to objectively determine whether or not a patient has suffered a severe traumatic brain injury, and to assess its severity.