VCU Researchers Receive $1.5 Million Grant from U.S. Army to Develop Technologies for Optimizing Wound Healing and Limiting Infection

Keywords: Wound Healing, Infection, Androstenediol

Virginia Commonwealth University’s Reanimation, Engineering and Shock Center, VCURES, announced today is has been awarded a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Army to study new technologies for optimizing wound healing and limiting wound infections.

The study is based on technologies discovered at VCU that have demonstrated a naturally occurring hormone called Androstenediol, AED, is biologically active and can reverse stress-inhibited wound healing. In addition, AED has been shown to have biological ability to combat bacterial, viral and fungal infections as well as protecting against lethal radiation poisoning.

“These findings have significant clinical implications for today’s military where extremely severe and complex wounds are much more prone to infection,” said Robert F. Diegelmann, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry, anatomy and emergency medicine. “These infections and delayed healing jeopardize both life and limb.”

VCURES is VCU’s critical injury and illness research group, which also has developed a combat casualty care research program. VCURES has generated approximately $36 million in research funding since 2000 in work that has a myriad of applications in areas as diverse as the military, homeland security, emergency medicine and traumatic brain injury.

With AED, the research group is taking the novel approach of systemically modulating the body’s immune and inflammatory system to enhance wound healing. Previously, VCURES has demonstrated the ability of these compounds to improve survival in traumatic shock. VCURES will be collaborating closely with scientists at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research in San Antonio, Texas.

Diegelmann said this technology and approach also will have potential benefits for veteran and civilian populations, trauma and burn victims, patients having delayed wound healing problems, and for patients at risk for nosocomial, or hospital-acquired infections. 

The grant was awarded as a part of the U.S. Army’s Orthopedic Trauma Research Program. In addition to Diegelmann, the grant’s senior scientists include Kevin Ward, M.D., associate professor of emergency medicine and associate director of VCURES, and Roger Loria, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and immunology and emergency medicine.

Ramana Feeser, M.D. and Nathan Menke, M.D., assistant professors in the VCU Department of Emergency Medicine, also are co-investigators on the grant.

About VCU and VCU Medical Center

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see