Plastic Surgeon, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Instructor, Harvard Medical School
When faced with a traumatic injury, tourniquets can control bleeding and save lives. But because they restrict blood flow to tissues, with prolonged use these life-saving pieces of equipment can also cause damage to limbs or life-threatening ischemic complications. To solve for this, Giorgio Giatsidis, MD, PhD, is developing a device that uses controlled, localized cooling to minimize the ischemic damage in injured limbs to which a tourniquet is applied. The goal is to apply the device to injured limbs immediately after application of a tourniquet, and then remove the device at the same time as the tourniquet, when blood flow to the limb is restored. A tool like this utilized in civilian and military trauma settings would reduce the amount of limb damage, amputations, and systemic injuries that can follow tourniquet application.
The Stepping Strong Center’s funding model—bestowing seed grants to research teams that show great promise—has resulted in significant federal funding, leading to better patient outcomes and the potential for commercialization.
Shortly after Giatsidis received the Stepping Strong Innovator Award, another funding opportunity emerged through the SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) program—a highly competitive program dedicated to supporting small businesses that exemplify scientific excellence and technological innovation. Eleven federal agencies participate in the SBIR program, including the Department of Defense, which can provide funding as part of a three-phase process:
- Phase 1: Establish the technical merit, feasibility, and commercial potential prior to providing further federal support. Giatsidis, in partnership with Moveo Walks Inc., a small business based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will receive $150,000 in this first phase.
- Phase 2: Continued funding is based on results achieved in Phase I, the scientific and technical merit of the project, and commercial potential. Phase II awards average about $1,000,000 over the course of two years.
- Phase 3: Pursue commercialization objectives resulting from the Phase I and 2 activities. This phase is funded by sources outside the SBIR program.
Giorgio Giatsidis, MD, completed his training in plastic surgery with honors at the University of Padova (Italy), with a strong interest in trauma care and reconstructive microsurgery. He joined the Plastic Surgery Division at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 2013 as a research fellow and, since 2016, has served as an instructor in surgery, focusing his research on the development of novel therapeutic approaches for soft tissue repair and regeneration. Prior to receiving a Stepping Strong Innovator Awards grant, Giatsidis served as a Stepping Strong Plastic Surgery Trauma Fellow.