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David Y. Hwang, MD, professor of neurology and division chief of neurocritical care, is co-principal investigator along with colleagues at Duke for a new eastern North Carolina and southern Virginia stroke clinical trial coordinating center.

The National Institutes of Health has announced the creation of the Duke-UNC Eastern North Carolina and Southern Virginia Regional Stroke Trial Consortium – ENVISION – to bolster vascular neurology clinical trial participation and improve prevention, treatment, and recovery in adult and pediatric stroke populations. This regional coordinating center is one of the latest additions to NIH StrokeNet, a network of similar coordinating centers across the United States.

Duke-UNC ENVISION, a five-year, $1.3-million project, consists of two major academic institutions serving as the network hubs – Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill – and nearly 30 regional hospitals with various stroke center designations, pediatric services, and rehabilitation facilities across eastern and central North Carolina, including the Triangle, as well as southeastern Virginia.

This consortium is led by principal investigators Wayne Feng, MD, professor of neurology and division chief of stroke and vascular neurology, Alexander Limkakeng, MD, professor of emergency medicine, both at the Duke School of Medicine; and David Y. Hwang, MD, professor of neurology and division chief of neurocritical care at the UNC School of Medicine.

“We will draw patients from a general population of nearly five million people, predominantly in suburban/rural areas with a large proportion of under-represented groups,” Hwang said. “Historically, this region is part of ‘the Stroke Belt’, with disproportionally higher stroke incidence and mortality. Together, we will pursue an organized strategy to enroll and retain a diverse population into stroke clinical trials with the ultimate goal of improving outcomes for patients and lessening the burden of stroke care for families across the region.”

There are three main aims of Duke-UNC ENVISION:

  • Effectively enroll and retain diverse stroke participants who adhere to protocols to help researchers produce high-quality data.
  • Successfully identify, engage, and train the next generation of stroke scientists. A senior training director, William Powers, MD, former chair of neurology at UNC and now a professor of neurology at Duke, with a proven record of mentoring experience, will oversee the selection process, training curriculum, and career development to ensure the highest odds of success of each trainee.
  • Actively contribute to the overall success of NIH StrokeNet leadership. UNC and Duke will share their considerable experience and expertise in all StrokeNet leadership activities, including operations and steering committees, working groups, proposal submissions, communications, training, and sharing of best practices.

“Stroke is such a major health issue in the United States, and to push stroke science forward, we need multicenter studies, which are difficult to do,” Hwang said. Our hope is we can use StrokeNet resources to not only conduct important clinical trials at Duke and UNC, but to partner with hospitals in our region that have patients who would qualify for these trials but would not have access to them without Duke-UNC ENVISION.”

The Duke-UNC consortium will begin its regional coordinating center activities at the beginning of 2024.

UNC School of Medicine contact: Mark Derewicz, Director of Research News