Spurred by the need for innovation in respiratory protection, National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI) Fellow Dr. Elizabeth Beam has won the competitive 2022 Clinical and Translational Research (CTR) Superstar Award granted by the Great Plains IDeA-CTR (GP IDeA-CTR). The $20,000 award begins July 1, 2023.
Dr. Beam’s project, “The Making of the Beam Helmet,” is an extension of her 2021 NSRI independent research and development (IRAD) project. Dr. Beam, assistant professor in the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing, with the support of NSRI Fellow Dr. Bethany Lowndes, will communicate with rural and urban healthcare professionals working in nursing, medicine, EMS, dentistry and other specialties to understand their experiences with respiratory protection during the pandemic. Beam and Lowndes, assistant professor in UNMC’s department of neurological sciences, will seek feedback on a better design for powered air purifying respirators for healthcare workers.
"There is no better time than now to ask care providers about their respiratory protection experiences," Beam said. "The current tools have significant challenges. There has to be a better way."
Dr. Beam’s NSRI IRAD funding allowed her to explore the outcomes of two training interventions focused on correct application and use of respiratory protective equipment. Participants watched videos focused on the critical safety behaviors for respiratory protective equipment (RPE) and viewed the same videos plus an interactive video scoring experience that highlighted common errors. Her work revealed that despite training, those involved in the study did not always use proper hand hygiene or check their mask’s seal.
"We often teach a complicated skill and assume people learned it," Dr. Beam said. "This study moves us toward assessing that learning and providing evidence for the best teaching methods."
Through NSRI IRAD, the institute develops technical capabilities and competencies for its sponsor, U.S. Strategic Command, as well as the broader Department of Defense community focused on detecting and countering weapons of mass destruction. The annual request for applications is administered through the University of Nebraska System Collaboration Initiative, which typically launches priorities in October with applications due in January.
The GP IDeA-CTR is a network of eight Nebraska institutions with the goal of bolstering infrastructure for research across the state. The GP IDeA-CTR is comprised of cores related to professional development, informatics, biostatistics and research design, and pilot projects to help meet this goal and work to provide funding and educational opportunities to investigators. The GP IDeA-CTR also hosts an Annual Scientific Meeting each year, which includes the CTR Superstar Competition. For more information on the GP IDeA-CTR and to become a member, please visit gpctr.unmc.edu.
About the National Strategic Research Institute
Through the National Strategic Research Institute at the University of Nebraska leading scientists deliver innovative national security research, technology, product and strategy development, training and exercises, and subject matter expertise to the Department of Defense and other federal agencies. One of only 15 DOD-designated University Affiliated Research Centers in the country, NSRI is sponsored by U.S. Strategic Command and works to ensure the United States’ safety and preparedness against increasingly sophisticated threats. Read about our mission.