We lose more than 225,000 Americans to sepsis each year. That’s more than we lose to most cancers, to strokes, and to heart attacks. And yet, sepsis remains largely unnoticed by patients and healthcare professionals alike, making the condition even deadlier.

A complication that occurs when the chemicals released by the body into the bloodstream to fight infection end up themselves setting off a lethal inflammation, sepsis is often difficult to diagnose and just as difficult to combat. Researchers at the Feinstein Institute are studying critical proteins implicated in sepsis and their role in organ damage associated with sepsis, including lung and heart injury and anemia caused by severe sepsis. Their efforts are also focused on developing better treatments, including novel compounds derived from Chinese herbal therapies, to prevent progression of organ damage associated with sepsis.

In addition, the Feinstein Institute has taken a leading role in creating and supporting research and advocacy initiatives in the fight against sepsis. This includes everything from collaboration with the University of Notre Dame on biomedical research and training, to the deployment of major sepsis awareness protocols and rapid sepsis response teams within the Northwell Health enterprise. Thanks to these protocols, the health system slashed the mortality rate from sepsis by 50 percent, equivalent to hundreds of New Yorkers annually. The fight against sepsis, however, is not just local but global: in 2010, the Feinstein Institute’s President and CEO Dr. Kevin J. Tracey co-founded the Global Sepsis Alliance, an organization that now represents more than a million caregivers in 70 countries around the world. The alliance’s mission is to provide a unified voice to those who treat sepsis, to elevate public and governmental awareness, and to aggressively meet the challenges of this global pandemic.

In addition, researchers in the Center for Bioelectronic Medicine believe there may be an opportunity to develop therapies for sepsis involving the regulation of vagus nerve activity. Click here to learn more.

Principal investigators conducting sepsis research include Yousef Al-AbedLionel Blanc; Clifford S. DeutschmanPatricio T. HuertaJared M. HustonWei LiShu Fang Liu; Christine Metz; Edmund Miller; Raj K. NarayanValentin A. PavlovBarbara SherryPravin C. Singhal; Kevin J. Tracey; Haichao Wang and Ping Wang.