Clinicians, researchers, data scientists, industry professionals, and donors converged at Junge Family Champions Center on October 25 for the second Massey TBI Regional Conference.

Graciously funded by the Joyce & Don Massey Family Foundation, the conference is a platform to explore the diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment of traumatic brain injury. The agenda included lectures, a poster session, and scientific presentations from the six funded 2018 Massey TBI Grand Challenge teams. Among the 102 attendees were representatives from 16 U-M departments, special guests from the Department of Defense, leaders of industry startups and non-profits, and TBI professionals from throughout the region. 

Robert Neumar, MD, PhD, Professor and Chair of U-M Emergency Medicine kicked off the event by introducing keynote speaker Geoff Manley, MD, PhD, Chief of Neurosurgery at San Francisco General Hospital and Professor of Neurosurgery at University of California San Francisco. Manley’s presentation focused on the current transformation of TBI research and clinical knowledge, emphasizing the strides that have been made in understanding the brain, brain diseases, and how they intertwine. Manley’s wealth of TBI knowledge has led to him being highly sought after across the country, speaking on the coasts and many places in between.

To remind those in attendance of the impact TBI has on families, Joyce & Don Massey Family Foundation President Brenda Massey, joined by her daughter, Brittany Blase, spoke to guests about her family’s experience. Brenda’s mother, Joyce Massey, was in a car accident that impacted her ability to speak, eat, move, and breathe. Joyce’s husband, Don Massey, an auto dealer who owned 28 car dealerships in eight states, gained a heart-felt connection to TBI that led to their family’s significant investment in advancements in TBI research at the University of Michigan. 

Attendees listened to presentations from 2018 Massey TBI Grand Challenge award recipients covering their project idea, goals, and milestones. The poster session immediately followed, showcasing abstracts from investigators from many disciplines and levels of experience.

Afternoon presentations began with a fresh, dual take on the care of a U-M TBI patient. The perspective of neurosurgery advanced practice nurse Carina Brake, MSN, RN, AGACNP-BC piggy-backed on that of neurointensivist Craig Williamson, MD, bringing the intense realities of TBI patient care to the forefront. Brake gave a very clear depiction of the constant attention to detail required throughout a typical shift. Her description of the many manual, dated care practices led to her praising the strides in research being presented, especially that of Dr. Rodney Daniels’ Digital Extraventricular Drain with Integrated ICP Monitor, a past Grand Challenge funded project demonstrated after Brake’s presentation.  

In addition to Dr. Daniels, two more past Grand Challenge winning teams gave updates. Isabel Dennahy, MD presented on Valproic Acid in the Setting of Trauma, explaining the insights their team has gained around immediate effects of VPA and plans for further testing in prolonged field care models. Trans-Ocular Brain Impedance was co-presented by Hakam Tiba, MD, MS and Brendan McCracken and included a look at their latest prototype to be used in active ongoing clinical trials to validate its use in TBI patients. 

William Barsan, MD, PhD, U-M professor of emergency medicine, rounded out the afternoon explaining the latest of severe TBI trials HOBIT and BOOST3 in the Strategies to Innovate Emergency Care Clinical Trials Network (SIREN).