traumatic brain injury


The Massey TBI Grand Challenge aims to support researchers to 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.

Researchers are tasked with the goal of developing the most innovative diagnostic, device, therapeutic, and health information technology solutions that target the ‘golden hours’ of care after severe TBI. Treatment administered during this critical time frame 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 TBI Grand Challenge panel, assisting in reviewing proposals for funding, and providing mentoring to each of the funded teams.

This partnership provides our researchers with an invaluable relationship with key TBI research 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.



2018 marked the fourth consecutive Massey TBI Grand Challenge, with thirteen teams submitting Stage 1 proposals. 22 U-M departments and centers were represented by the more than 40 participants, ranging from Surgery to Emergency Medicine, to Mechanical Engineering and Dentistry.  In Stage 2, ten teams were selected to submit 10-page TBI solution proposals and make an in-person Shark Tank-esque pitch to the ‘Wolverine Den’ panel, made up of clinicians, innovation and commercialization experts, national TBI experts, and representatives from the Department of Defense.

Presenters provided comprehensive multimedia presentations to back up their own thorough subject knowledge, making the most of their limited 15 minutes. Built-in Q&A sessions allowed for panelists to probe teams about any unknowns or perceived gaps. The Massey Oversight Committee, made up of University of Michigan critical care leaders, unanimously approved Wolverine Den recommendations, ultimately funding the six most promising projects (see abstracts at right).


In 2017, nearly $700,000 was awarded to teams with high-impact, innovative proposals. From the many applicants, only 10 were invited to pitch their idea at Wolverine Den (MCIRCC’s Shark Tank). The Wolverine Den panelists—ranging from clinicians to commercialization experts—pressed teams during an intensive Q&A session. After significant deliberation, the panelists provided their funding recommendations to the Massey Oversight Committee for approval. Click here to read the full recap on the 2017 Massey TBI Grand Challenge.


MCIRCC facilitated the 2016 Massey Foundation TBI Grand Challenge In partnership with the DoD. Nearly 100 faculty and staff members attended the two-day event where they had the opportunity to hear from MCIRCC’s DoD partners, a first-responder in the civilian setting, and several other U-M faculty and staff. With up to $500,000 available in funding, dozens of proposals were received. After a rigorous review process, five teams were awarded funding for their innovative research. Click through the slide show to learn more about the winning teams. Click here to read the recap on the 2016 Grand Challenge. 


In 2015, MCIRCC launched its first ever Massey Foundation TBI Grand Challenge. Over $650,000 in funding was distributed among seven projects to propel their innovative research forward. Click through the slide show to learn more about the winning teams.



The Sepsis Grand Challenge aims to support researchers to find new ways to diagnose, monitor, and treat sepsis, one of the deadliest conditions worldwide.

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition caused by an extreme immune response to an infection, like “friendly fire” within the body. Chemicals released into the blood to fight the infection trigger widespread inflammation that becomes uncontrolled, causing significant organ damage. Sepsis has devastating consequences, including long hospital stays, recurring complications, and a high death rate.

The Sepsis Grand Challenge brings researchers together to develop solutions for improved patient outcomes at reduced healthcare costs. Clinicians and engineers alike were challenged to develop rapid, bedside diagnostics, personalized management of the immune system, and better solutions for “front-line” patient management. With more than $300,000 available in funding to distribute in 2015, there were six teams that proved themselves to be the "game changers" capable of revolutionizing sepsis care and treatment.


Click to view portfolio.

Click to view portfolio.


Recognizing the need to revolutionize sepsis care and treatment, MCIRCC's Sepsis Grand Challenge integrated medical and engineering experts with the goal of finding "game changers" that demonstrated the greatest clinical and market potential. The Grand Challenge strategy focused on three core requirements:

  • Solve a pervasive and urgent problem that will improve outcomes with the visionary end-goal of curing sepsis.

  • Form integrative teams comprised of clinicians and engineers to close the gap between scientific research, clinical workflow, and patient care delivery.

  • Merge innovative, world-class research with commercialization fundamentals to attract industry partners for speed to market strategies.