Acute and Critical Care

Professor Erica WoodProfessor Jamie Cooper AOLeads

Professor Jamie Cooper AO and Professor Erica Wood

Acute and Critical Care research focuses on improving outcomes for people experiencing serious or life-threatening illness or medical emergency. We work closely with Australian and international health services, relevant health authorities, clinical registries, government agencies and other third parties to access relevant health data and run clinical trials. Our research provides evidence that supports improvements to clinical guidelines and outcomes, ensures optimal stewardship of precious medical resources, and influences the effective, efficient and ethical treatment of these seriously unwell patients.

Our dedicated and experienced researchers conduct research across the pre-hospital and emergency space, trauma care, injury prevention, rehabilitation, the critical care setting, blood transfusion and haematological diseases.

Our areas of expertise include clinical medicine, epidemiology, biostatistics, data management, clinical trials and health economics. Where needed, we draw on the experience of colleagues in the School’s research methodology divisions to inform research design, implementation and data analysis, to ensure optimal impact and value.

Research groups

Major work completed by our Division includes:

  • The TRANSFUSE randomised controlled trial (NEJM 2017) that revealed that the age of transfused red cells did not affect 90-day mortality among critically ill adults, allowing for better management of precious blood stocks.
  • The DECRA trial (NEJM 2011) that revealed a lack of efficacy of a popular neurosurgical treatment for severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), results of which were incorporated into American TBI guidelines, and were estimated to save Australia $100M annually following local translation. The trial was cited in Harvard University’s most important studies in critical care medicine.
  • The POLAR randomised trial (JAMA 2018) that found that an internationally popular therapy for severe traumatic brain injury – body cooling or hypothermia – did not improve long-term patient outcomes, and shifted the clinical focus to other medical alternatives for high brain pressure. The paper ranked 99th percentile for Altimetric attention score, and is now listed as a “Signal” from the United Kingdom’s National Institute for Health Research.
  • The TOPPS trial (NEJM 2013) of prophylactic platelet transfusions in patients with blood cancers, that changed policy, guidelines and practice internationally. This collaboration with NHS Blood and Transplant and the University of Oxford continues with our current NHMRC-funded TREATT trial, exploring the role of tranexamic acid to prevent bleeding in these patients.

Highlights from our ongoing research portfolio include:

  • The Better Outcomes Following Injury and Trauma (BE-FIT) project, evaluating a new, purpose-built trauma ward at the Alfred Hospital, and accompanying model of care that facilitates early, active rehabilitation among acute inpatients.
  • A project to reduce cyclist injuries by modelling the number of cyclists on each road in a city, which will enable detailed measurement of cycling safety, and enable the identification of areas in which cycling infrastructure can be implemented for the greatest gain.
  • An NHMRC Partnership Grant with the Project for Better Health to improve cardiovascular awareness and response to symptoms in regions at highest risk of heart attacks.