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Surgical Research and Training Center to teach latest surgery techniques, patient safety

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A new state-of-the-art Surgical Research and Training Center at SUNY Upstate Medical University will provide resident physicians, nurses, medical students and healthcare practitioners across the community with an opportunity to be trained in a variety of areas, from advanced surgical techniques to patient safety initiatives.

The 2,000 square foot center, located on the eighth floor of University Hospital, is built to simulate existing operating rooms with surgical light fixtures, medical gas systems and a myriad of surgical equipment.

"Our tripartite mission of teaching, research and patient care is foremost in the role this center will play at the university and the community," said John Fortune, M. D., professor and interim chair of the Department of Surgery. "It's here that we will educate and train students, residents and nurses in practices that will enhance patient care and safety, while researching new drug properties to developed better treatment protocols for patients."

Training in microsurgery (surgery requiring an operating microscope), laparoscopic surgery are two of the more common surgical techniques that will be offered. The center will provide a venue for training individuals in tasks used in intensive care units, such as protective mechanical ventilation, kinetic rotational therapy and abdominal wound vacuum.

An adjoining research lab will carry out more than $1.5 million in National Institutes of Health funded research looking into new drug and possibly genetic treatments to stem blood infections, or sepsis, the second-leading cause nationally of death in non-coronary ICU patients. The research is being conducted by Gary Nieman, assistant professor and senior research scientist in the Department of Surgery. Nieman's lab is also investigating the pathogenesis and treatment of the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and ventilator induced lung injury (VILI).

Work on the center began in March 2007 and was completed in November 2008. Total cost of the project, which includes the Surgical Research and Training Center and other renovations on the eighth floor is $3.7 million.

The opening of the Surgical Research and Training Center complements the university's other training labs: the Clinical Skills Teaching Center and the Emergency Medicine Simulation and Training Center (EMSTAT).

The Clinical Skills Teaching Center, located in the Setnor Academic Building, which includes 22 exam rooms, closed-circuit monitoring, and state-of-the-art medical equipment. Students practice taking medical histories and performing exams on "standardized patients" or actors role-playing as patients.

EMSTAT, located at 550 East Genesee St. offers emergency medicine residents and other healthcare professionals, including community-based EMTs, with training in responding to emergency scenarios using simulated patients or manikins.