Help UM biomedical research teams compete in the annual STAT Madness tournament


It’s like college basketball’s March Madness – just for biomedical research. Throughout March, 64 discoveries from schools and colleges across the country will enter the annual competition STAT Madness Tournament.

This year, the University of Michigan is fielding five research teams with members drawn from Michigan Medicine, the UM College of Engineering, and the School of Public Health.

Not only are bragging rights at stake, but the tournament is a chance to help the public discover exciting and important scientific advances – many of which are funded by federal taxpayer dollars. The event is organized by STAT, a health information agency and is part of Boston Globe Media.

Michigan fans can cheer on UM teams to victory by voting daily on the tournament website. And also by encouraging others to do so on social networks.

This year’s UM entries include:

1. New cause of COVID-19 blood clots identified

Blood clots continue to wreak havoc in patients severely infected with COVID-19. A Michigan Medicine study explains what can trigger them in up to half of patients: an autoimmune antibody that circulates in the blood, attacks cells and causes clots to form in arteries, veins and microscopic vessels.

2. Mapping the immune landscape of pancreatic cancer

A study from the UM Rogel Cancer Center used several state-of-the-art techniques to create what is believed to be the most robust and detailed portrait to date of the network of interactions that suppress the body’s immune response in and around pancreatic tumors. The finding could help guide personalized immunotherapy treatment.

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3. Nanomedicine targets recurrent brain cancer

A novel synthetic protein nanoparticle capable of crossing the nearly impermeable blood-brain barrier could deliver anti-cancer drugs directly to malignant brain tumorsshowed research from Michigan Medicine and scientists from the UM College of Engineering.

4. The long-term effects of COVID-19

For many survivors of severe COVID-19 cases, being discharged from hospital is just the start of a long journey to recovery. A team from the UM Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation released some of the first hard data showing this “long COVID” phenomenonbased on patients treated at 28 Michigan hospitals during the early months of the pandemic.

5. Surprise surgery bills

When a patient is scheduled for an operation, many may know the importance of making sure their surgeon accepts their insurance so they don’t end up with a “surprise” bill. But a study by an IHPI team shows that many patients may end up with such bills anyway — and the findings may have helped inform federal and state policy changes.

The university hopes to bring the STAT Madness title back to Michigan this year. A Michigan medical research team was crowned the winner of the tournament in 2019 for a potential tinnitus treatment. An inter-campus team reached the 2017 tournament finals and a Michigan medicine team reached the semifinals in 2018.

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