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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 20, 2004

NIH Selects UI As Regional Resuscitation Center

The National Institutes of Health has announced a grant of nearly $2.5 million to establish the Iowa Regional Resuscitation Center, headed by Richard Kerber, M.D., professor of cardiology and internal medicine in the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A Carver College of Medicine.

The center is one of 10 regional resuscitation centers that the NIH is establishing throughout the United States and Canada. As part of the project, emergency medical services throughout Iowa will participate in a new statewide network, based at UI Hospitals and Clinics. The Iowa Resuscitation Network will assess the effectiveness of new devices, drugs and strategies to treat serious trauma and prevent out-of-hospital sudden death due to cardiac arrest.

In the United States, more than 300,000 people a year die from out-of-hospital sudden death as a result of cardiac arrest or traumatic injury. In Iowa, trauma is the major cause of death for people ages 1 to 44. Between 1990 and 2000, there were 5,707 traumatic deaths in Iowa, mostly the result of motor vehicle accidents. The national survival rate from cardiac arrest is only about five to 10 percent and is even lower in rural areas.

"The rescue community has long been working to persuade the NIH to fund and coordinate studies to improve the treatment of cardiac arrest," Kerber said. "In the past decade, devices like automatic external defibrillators and first-responders equipped to use them have greatly improved the chances of surviving cardiac arrest. But the survival rate still is too low. It's a big public health problem."

For every minute that passes before a heart responds to treatment and begins beating again, the chance of surviving decreases by nearly 10 percent.

Responders should begin treatment as early as possible, but in sprawling cities with many high-rise buildings, such as New York or Chicago, where rescuers cannot get to victims quickly, the survival rate is as low as one or two percent. In contrast, in Seattle, which is relatively compact and conducts extensive cardiopulmonary resuscitation training for the general public, the cardiac arrest survival rate is around 25 percent.

Response times can also be prolonged in rural areas because of distance.

"The Iowa Resuscitation Network will benefit Iowans by putting us in the forefront of resuscitation research," Kerber said. "The network will benefit the participating emergency medical services around the state as they receive funding and training."

The communities whose emergency medical services are scheduled to participate include: Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Des Moines, Dubuque, Iowa City/Johnson County, Mount Pleasant, Sioux City, Waterloo and West Des Moines/Dallas County. Michael Hartley, a paramedic in the Emergency Medical Services Learning Resource Center at UI Hospitals and Clinics, will serve as liaison to these services.

The study will also involve experts from several UI departments: Dianne Atkins, M.D., professor of pediatrics; Eric Dickson, M.D., associate professor and head of emergency medicine; and J. Steven Hata, M.D., associate professor (clinical) of anesthesiology. Hata will co-direct the NIH study with Kerber. The study will be coordinated by Linda Moss, a clinical research coordinator in internal medicine.

In addition, the trauma service of the UI Department of Surgery will participate. UI Hospitals and Clinics is a Level 1 trauma center for the state of Iowa.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5137 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 5224-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: Becky Soglin, 319 335-6660

PHOTO: A photo of Richard Kerber, M.D., is available at