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2019-20 Stepping Strong Innovator Award Winners
2019-20 Stepping Strong Innovator Award Winners

Transforming Trauma Care Through the Stepping Strong Innovator Awards Program

The Stepping Strong Innovator Awards is an annually awarded, peer-reviewed program that supports groundbreaking research projects by the most collaborative physicians, bioengineers, and bench researchers seeking to transform trauma care. To date, the center has awarded 20 grants of up to $100,000 each. Innovator Award projects generally fall into three main categories:

  • Those that prevent traumatic injury before it occurs;
  • Those that improve the treatment and care of traumatic injury when it does occur; and
  • Those that help patients recover from traumatic injuries.

Last April, for the seventh consecutive year, The Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation announced the 2020 Stepping Strong Innovator Awards request for applications. As of August 28, the center had received nearly 30 applications spanning our core areas—prevention, treatment, and recovery of traumatic injuries—from seven institutions nationwide.

At the time of this writing, judges from the Stepping Strong leadership team and Medical Executive Committee have narrowed down the search to 10 outstanding candidates, with at least one recipient pursuing an injury prevention project. Winners will be announced at the Third Annual Stepping Strong Trauma Research and Innovation Symposium on November 19.

Research Goals and Priorities

As shown in Figure 1, improving patient care is at the core of our work. Innovator Awards recipients are encouraged to think out of the box to realize unmet needs, forge partnerships across medical disciplines, and collaborate with community advocates—all with the goal of moving their research from the bench to the bedside.

Figure 1

Traumatic injury remains a major public health problem for America. According to the Coalition for National Trauma Research (CNTR), “Aside from the unacceptable human toll, traumatic injury is extraordinarily expensive—costing around $671 billion in 2013 for lifetime medical care and work loss.”

A recent evaluation of the scope of Stepping Strong research priorities revealed a close alignment to the CNTR’s National Trauma Research Action Plan —representing pre-hospital trauma care, mass casualty response, acute resuscitation, critical care, neurotrauma, orthopaedic trauma, burns, geriatric trauma, pediatric trauma, injury prevention, and rehabilitation.

Figure 2 highlights researchers and projects that represent the continuum of care among our Innovator Award recipients.

Figure 2

For more information about the Stepping Strong Innovator Awards program and to read about our current research projects, visit

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