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Answers to Questions About OECR

What is OECR?
When and why was OECR created?
What is emergency care?
Why is emergency care research so important?
What kind of research questions are of interest to OECR?
How will OECR work with other government agencies?
How can I find a list of emergency care research that NIH supports?
Who is the OECR director?
How can I send a comment or question about OECR?


Q: What is OECR?

A: The Office of Emergency Care Research (OECR) is a focal point for clinical and translational emergency care research and training across NIH. Its mission is to help improve the health outcomes of patients who require emergency care.
Although OECR does not fund grants, it fosters innovation and improvement in emergency care and in the training of future researchers in this field by:

  • Coordinating funding opportunities that involve multiple NIH institutes and centers.
  • Working closely with the NIH Emergency Care Research Working Group, which includes representatives from many NIH institutes and centers.
  • Organizing scientific meetings to identify new research and training opportunities in emergency settings.
  • Catalyzing the development of new funding opportunities and informing investigators about funding opportunities in their areas of interest.
  • Identifying and addressing areas in which more research is needed, such as health services provided to patients in the pre-hospital setting, emergency department or intensive care unit; and medical issues that, while not time-critical, are best studied in the emergency care setting.
  • Fostering career development for trainees in emergency care research.
  • Representing NIH in government-wide efforts to improve the nation's emergency care system.

OECR is located within the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. More information about the structure of the office is available under Organization.

Q: When and why was OECR created?

A: The OECR History page contains a detailed description of the events that led to the establishment of OECR in 2012 as the culmination of more than 5 years of discussions between NIH and the emergency medicine community. The initial impetus for these conversations was three reports published in 2006 by the Institute of Medicine.

These reports identified several perceived barriers to emergency research and made recommendations for meeting research opportunities. In response, senior NIH leadership suggested the creation of a single office to coordinate NIH emergency care research and research training, which transcends the mission of any single NIH component. While many NIH institutes focus on specific diseases, organs or population groups (for example children or the elderly), emergency departments treat a broad range of conditions in patients from all demographic groups.

Q: What is emergency care?

A. Emergency care includes a wide variety of conditions, only some of which are life-threatening. These life-threatening conditions include heart attacks, strokes, traumatic injuries, burns, allergic reactions, fractures, infections, drug overdoses, bleeding, asthma attacks, poisoning and psychiatric crises.

Emergency medical services also deliver care for a larger number of conditions that do not require hospitalization and are not immediately life-threatening. These include a worsening chronic condition or the need for a prescription refill.

Q: Why is emergency care research so important?

A: Emergency departments handle an enormous number of patients, many of whom are the sickest and most vulnerable in the health care system. Consider these statistics from a report titled The Evolving Role of Emergency Departments in the United States Link to external Web site:

  • There are over 130 million visits to emergency departments in the U.S. each year. Of these, more than 20 million patients arrive by ambulance and about 17 million are admitted to the hospital.
  • Half of all hospitalized patients in the U.S. are admitted through the emergency department.
  • Other than pregnant women admitted for labor and delivery, more hospital patients are admitted through the emergency department than through any other department.
  • As many as 80 percent of patients who visit an emergency department do so simply because they cannot access other medical providers.

Q: What kind of research questions are of interest to OECR?

A: OECR is interested in the treatment of emergency conditions throughout the continuum from first response by emergency medical technicians to emergency department and intensive care units. Research in these settings addresses questions that can help guide patient care. For example:

  • Which medication should ambulance personnel give to someone who is having a seizure?
  • What is the best way for emergency department personnel to treat a wide range of issues, including:
    • People whose hearts have stopped?
    • Patients with sepsis?
    • Children with ear infections?
    • Elderly people in pain?
    • Patients with blood clots in their lungs?
    • People with kidney stones?

Emergency departments also consider the long-term health of patients by addressing questions like:

  • Which groups of patients can avoid radiation exposure from X-rays?
  • How can patients who use emergency departments be encouraged to give up tobacco?

Q: How will OECR work with other government agencies?

A: The OECR director works closely with other parts of the Federal Government and represents NIH in regular meetings with these partners. The office also works closely with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Link to external Web site (ASPR) in the Department of Health and Human Services.

Q: How can I find a list of emergency care research that NIH supports?

A. The OECR maintains a database of newly funded clinical emergency care research projects at http://publications.nigms.nih.gov/oecr/searchresults.asp. More details about each funded project may be obtained on the NIH RePorter.

Q: Who is the OECR director?

A. Jeremy Brown, M.D., became the first permanent director of OECR in July 2013.

Q: How can I send a comment or question about OECR?

A: Use the Contact Us form.

This page last reviewed on February 22, 2016