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UCI Health and Lundquist investigators receive 2023 Top Ten Clinical Research Achievement Award from the Clinical Research Forum

A strategy to reduce hospitalizations in nursing homes was called a groundbreaking achievement

February 14, 2024

Orange, Calif. — A recently-published strategy to reduce hospitalizations in nursing homes has been named a groundbreaking achievement in U.S. clinical research and will be given a 2023 Top Ten Clinical Research Achievement Award by the Clinical Research Forum.

The work was jointly led by senior investigator Dr. Susan Huang, MD, MPH, medical director of epidemiology and infection prevention for UCI Health, the clinical enterprise of UCI, and Chancellor’s Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at UCI School of Medicine, as well as lead author Loren G. Miller, MD, MPH, professor and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and an investigator at the Lundquist Institute for Biomedical Innovation.

The Protect Trial involved nearly 14,000 residents in 28 California nursing homes in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

It found that using chlorhexidine antiseptic soap for all bathing and showering, and using an over-the-counter antiseptic to clean the nose, prevented nearly two hospitalizations due to infection per month for a typical 100-bed nursing home. It also substantially reduced antibiotic-resistant pathogens in the nursing homes assigned to this strategy.

The work is being hailed as a scientific advancement due to the strong protective benefits for nursing home residents stemming from an innovative application of antiseptic products used in healthcare for more than 60 years. The Protect Trial was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and published in October 2023 in the New England Journal of Medicine. View the decolonization protocols and educational materials used in the trial ›

Winners were selected by a CR Forum panel from clinical research studies published in peer-reviewed journals in 2023 based on the degree of innovation and novelty involved in advancing science, contribution to understanding human disease and/or physiology, and potential impact upon the diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of disease.

Miller will accept the award on behalf of the entire Protect Trial investigative team at a ceremony in Las Vegas on April 2, 2024.

“The Top 10 Clinical Research Achievement Awards honor and celebrate the innovation, tireless efforts and profound contributions that clinical researchers and advocates have made on the health and wellness of humanity,” said Harry P. Selker, MD, MSPH, Chair of the Clinical Research Forum and Dean, Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute at Tufts University. “We congratulate the 2024 awardees for their outstanding efforts.”

Huang is a nationally recognized expert on the prevention of HAIs whose protocols have been adopted in nursing homes, intensive care units and hospitals across the country.

The findings add to a growing body of Huang’s research funded by AHRQ and other U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agencies showing that universal decolonization can be an effective tool to prevent infections for at-risk populations in the healthcare system. The REDUCE MRSA Trial found that decolonizing all intensive care unit (ICU) patients with chlorhexidine and nasal mupirocin decreased all-cause bloodstream infections by nearly half.

More recently, AHRQ published a toolkit that expands the decolonization protocol to non-ICU hospital patients who have had medical devices based on the ABATE Infection Trial, also led by Huang. The CLEAR post-discharge trial showed that chlorhexidine and nasal mupirocin used after hospital discharge could reduce infection and hospitalization in those colonized with MRSA. Get the CLEAR Kit ›

About UCI Health

UCI Health is the clinical enterprise of the University of California, Irvine, and the only academic health system in Orange County. Patients can access UCI Health at primary and specialty care offices across Orange County and at its main campus, UCI Medical Center in Orange, Calif. The 459-bed, acute care hospital, listed among America’s Best Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report for 23 consecutive years, provides tertiary and quaternary care, ambulatory and specialty medical clinics, behavioral health and rehabilitation services. UCI Medical Center is home to Orange County’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, high-risk perinatal/neonatal program and American College of Surgeons-verified Level I adult and Level II pediatric trauma center, gold level 1 geriatric emergency department and regional burn center. UCI Health serves a region of nearly 4 million people in Orange County, western Riverside County and southeast Los Angeles County. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

About UCI School of Medicine

Each year, the UCI School of Medicine educates more than 400 medical students and nearly 150 PhD and MS students. More than 700 residents and fellows are trained at the UCI Medical Center and affiliated institutions. Multiple MD, PhD and MS degrees are offered. Students are encouraged to pursue an expansive range of interests and options. For medical students, there are numerous concurrent dual degree programs, including an MD/MBA, MD/MPH, or an MD/MS degree through one of three mission-based programs: the Health Education to Advance Leaders in Integrative Medicine (HEAL-IM), the Program in Medical Education for Leadership Education to Advance Diversity-African, Black and Caribbean (PRIME LEAD-ABC), and the Program in Medical Education for the Latino Community (PRIME-LC). The UCI School of Medicine is accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Accreditation and ranks among the top 50 nationwide for research. For more information, visit medschool.uci.edu.

About the Top Ten Clinical Research Achievement Awards

Recognizing the need to celebrate our nation's clinical research accomplishments that involve both innovation and impact on human disease, the Clinical Research Forum conducts an annual competition to determine the ten outstanding research accomplishments in the United States. These major research advances represent a portion of the annual return on the nation's investment in the health and future welfare of its citizens.

About the Clinical Research Forum and the Clinical Research Foundation

The mission of the Clinical Research Forum is to provide leadership to the national and clinical translational research enterprise and promote understanding and support for clinical research and its impact on health and healthcare. For more information, visit www.clinicalresearchforum.org The Clinical Research Foundation is the charitable arm of the Clinical Research Forum. As a 501(c)(3), gifts to the foundation support the Top Ten Clinical Research Achievement Awards and are tax deductible.