Intensive care specialist Dr Shailesh Bihari has just won a $109,358 funding boost from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to find a way to improve survival rates for patients with acute lung injury, under a new PhD project at Flinders University.
Dr Bihari, based at Flinders Medical Centre, was awarded the Postgraduate Scholarship today (Thursday, December 15) as one of three NHMRC funding schemes handed out to a total of 159 research projects nationwide.
Beginning next February, his three-year study will explore the effectiveness of two common interventions used in patients with acute lung injury – fluids and posture change – with the aim of developing clinical trials to further improve survival rates.
Dr Bihari said he would look at the effect of fluids administered to critically ill patients with acute lung injury in intensive care, as well as the influence of “gravity” on their treatment.
“Patients with acute lung injury are traditionally given fluids made up of water, salt and sometimes a protein called albumin when they are critically ill and what I’m trying to find out is if this treatment actually helps or not,” Dr Bihari said.
“When a patient is ventilated on a breathing machine they also lie on their back but what I plan to do is quantify how different body positions impact recovery, such as the potential benefits of lying on their stomach or sitting upright,” he said.
Using both animal and human studies, Dr Bihari said it was hoped his research would eventually lead to clinical trials that will help improve survival outcomes for people with lung injury.
“Acute lung injury is very common in the intensive care unit with a high morbidity and mortality rate so it’s important to assess what treatments benefit the patient and what makes them worse,” he said.
“If we can find out how useful the two most common interventions actually are then maybe we will find a way to help these patients live longer.”