Trauma Research Helping Save Lives on the Battlefield

Tuesday 8 March 2022

Army Defense Officer Standing in RBWH Research Facilities

When the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is deployed internationally on warlike, peacekeeping, or natural disaster relief operations, its health services take with them expertise in trauma research and treatment honed in the operating theatres and wards of Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH).

RBWH Foundation donors have played a key role providing seed funding for this Defence-related research since 2013, soon after the first Australian Defence Force (ADF) Chair of Military Surgery and Medicine, Professor Michael Reade, was appointed and based at the University of Queensland and RBWH.

In his roles as a RBWH Senior Staff Specialist lntensivist, UQ professor and military officer, Professor Reade leads a research program in trauma medicine and surgery, which benefits both civilian trauma care and military practice.

“We know that the lessons that we’ve learned in the civilian trauma system in Queensland, translate just as well to military medicine,” said Prof. Reade.

Quote from Professor Michael Reade about medical readiness on the Australian Defence Force battlefield

Prof. Reade’s research focuses on two main questions: how to stop people bleeding excessively after major trauma such as civilian car accidents or battlefield gunfire; and how to design systems that deliver better trauma care.

Although aspects of the research span national and international sites at a cost of millions of dollars, Prof. Reade says many projects begin with RBWH Foundation funding.

Foundation grants, he says, allow junior researchers to develop a track record in their field and enable experienced researchers to validate new research questions.

“It helps us get some preliminary data to then go to the National Health Medical Research Council (NHMRC) or the Medical Research Future Fund with a credible question.


“We can leverage that early information into a plausible research proposal that will answer a question definitively, and change practice.”

The generosity of donors to medical research, he said, was appreciated by all researchers on many different levels.

“Most importantly, when we’re standing by someone’s bedside in the hospital, and we’re doing something that we didn’t do last year, on the basis of the research that we’ve published or our colleagues have published, we look back at the donations that people have given to Foundations like the RBWH Foundation and know where that’s all started.”

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