Story by: Maggie Roetker on August 21, 2023
Norton Healthcare has expanded its research efforts with the creation of Norton Research Institute, the central entity overseeing all research throughout the organization, including clinical trials, across a multitude of specialties. Nearly 1,000 active studies currently are underway. This is an enormous increase from eight active oncology and cardiology studies in 2005, which was just four years after Norton Healthcare established a research office.
Current studies encompass all phases of research, including investigating medications, devices, health outcomes, health disparities and developmental biology within areas that include Norton Cancer Institute, Norton Heart & Vascular Institute, Norton Infectious Diseases Institute, Norton Neuroscience Institute, Norton Leatherman Spine, Norton Orthopedic Institute, Wendy Novak Diabetes Institute and more. Researchers were involved in more than 360 published articles in 2022.
A new area of research announced as part of Norton Research Institute is Cressman Parkinson’s Research.
“We know that research many times leads to new treatments, medications or medical devices,” said Steven T. Hester, M.D., MBA, senior vice president and chief clinical and strategy officer, Norton Healthcare. “By establishing Norton Research Institute, we see opportunities to expand our efforts from the bench to bedside. In other words, we are looking at taking basic scientific knowledge and turning it into something that can directly benefit patients.
“This model will be evident most immediately within Cressman Parkinson’s Research,” he said.
Funding to create Cressman Parkinson’s Research is part of a rapid expansion in this field and will be key to building knowledge in this important area. Nearly 1 million people in the United States have Parkinson’s disease, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation, and incidence rates are increasing.
Initial support of $4 million for the program was provided by the Norton Healthcare Foundation. Efforts will be led by Shirish S. Barve, Ph.D., chief research scientist, Norton Neuroscience Institute and Norton Research Institute, who is known internationally for his research on the connection between the gut microbiome and brain. This work has already received additional sustained federal funding from the National Institutes of Health.
“We know that the gut is constantly influencing lifestyle issues, including lack of sleep, stress and diet,” Dr. Barve said. “We want to understand these changes and their connection to the neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration that can lead to disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and even Alzheimer’s disease. We are hopeful this will lead to better treatments for these disorders.”
Cressman Parkinson’s Research, a part of Norton Neuroscience Institute, was named in memory of Elizabeth Pahk Cressman, M.D., who donated millions of dollars in her lifetime to support Parkinson’s disease and critical care initiatives at Norton Healthcare.
“The kind of support given by Dr. Cressman and other donors is key to helping us advance research that will provide new treatments and hope for patients,” said Lynnie Meyer, Ed.D., R.N., CFRE, senior vice president and chief development officer, Norton Healthcare. “The Norton Healthcare Foundation is committed to helping advance knowledge and give our community access to the latest therapies.”
Participants in clinical trials can play a more active role in their own health care, gain access to new research treatments before they are widely available and help others by contributing to medical knowledge.
“We know that clinical studies and unique research partnerships can improve patient care, outcomes and quality of life,” said Stephen W. Wyatt, DMD, MPH, chief research executive, Norton Research Institute. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw increased attention on research as the world looked for effective vaccines and treatments.”
Norton Healthcare researchers participated in 20 different COVID-19 trials. Norton Healthcare was the top enrolling site in the world for three of those. “This is a monumental time for research across Norton Healthcare,” Dr. Wyatt said. “We’ve already seen expansion of research in oncology, neurosciences, infectious diseases, diabetes, health equity and population health, and expect that momentum to continue.”
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