March 4, 2009

CONTACT: Karen Kreeger
(215) 349-5658
karen.kreeger@uphs.upenn.edu


Penn Medicine to Research MRSA Infection Recurrence and Household Transmission
Over $5 Million from Pennsylvania Tobacco Settlement Funds Granted to Penn and Collaborators for Infectious Diseases Research

PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, in collaboration with The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Lincoln University, and the Pennsylvania State University, will receive $5.5 million to study why patients infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) frequently experience recurrent infections despite appropriate treatment. The researchers will also determine how often MRSA spreads among household members and the factors contributing to the spread of MRSA within the household. An intervention to prevent new and recurring MRSA infections will be tested.

“The work on this grant will be very important in helping us to better understand how MRSA spreads within households, and what we can do to prevent spread and recurrence of these infections,” says Ebbing Lautenbach, MD, MPH, MSCE, Associate Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology and Senior Scholar, at Penn’s Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Last month the State announced four health research grants totaling nearly $18 million awarded from Pennsylvania’s share of the national tobacco settlement for 2008-09. These grants are awarded as part of the Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement Program (CURE), which supports clinical, health services, and biomedical research. 

These competitive grants focus on specific research priorities established and reviewed annually by the statewide Health Research Advisory Committee. The priorities for 2008-09 are autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and antibiotic resistance. Each grant is required to establish a research training program for minority students and faculty in order to create a diverse applicant pool for high-level research positions.

“These grants will support research that seeks to find answers to some of Pennsylvania’s most pressing health issues,” said Health Secretary Everette James. “This announcement also reaffirms Governor Rendell’s commitment to use tobacco settlement dollars to improve public health and maintain Pennsylvania's internationally recognized leadership in clinical and health services research.”

Antibiotic-resistant infections are a growing and serious public health problem, particularly in health care settings. While most bacterial infections can be effectively controlled using existing antibiotic drugs, there has been a significant increase in antibiotic drug resistance rates in health care institutions during the past 25 years. It has been estimated that more than 70 percent of the bacteria that cause health care infections have resistance to at least one or more antibiotic drugs. More than 27,000 hospital-acquired infections were reported in Pennsylvania in 2007. Patients that acquired a hospital infection stayed more than three times longer in the hospital and their admission was four times as expensive as any other hospital admission. Many of these infections are caused by bacteria resistant to most, if not all, currently available drugs. 

MRSA ranks among the most prevalent causes of infections in hospitals. It is easily transmitted within the hospital and is now found in the community. Acinetobacter baumannii (A. baumannii) and Clostridium difficile (C. difficile), other bacteria that have developed drug resistance, also cause life-threatening infections and are prevalent in U.S. hospitals. Research aids in better understanding the transmission of these deadly bacteria and developing improved strategies to prevent and control the spread in hospital and community settings.

###

PENN Medicine is a $3.6 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn's School of Medicine is currently ranked #4 in the nation in U.S.News & World Report's survey of top research-oriented medical schools; and, according to most recent data from the National Institutes of Health, received over $379 million in NIH research funds in the 2006 fiscal year. Supporting 1,700 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS) includes its flagship hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, rated one of the nation’s top ten “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S.News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. In addition UPHS includes a primary-care provider network; a faculty practice plan; home care, hospice, and nursing home; three multispecialty satellite facilities; as well as the Penn Medicine Rittenhouse campus, which offers comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation facilities and outpatient services in multiple specialties.


This release is available online at
http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/News_Releases/2009/03/mrsa-recurrence-research.html