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Versiti Blood Research Institute won a five-year, $13.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue its research into von Willebrand disease, the most common and undiagnosed bleeding disorder.

The Blood Research Institute, based at the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center in Wauwatosa, is focused on identifying changes to von Willebrand factor and bleeding symptoms in patients over time and determining additional molecular causes for the disease.

“By tracking the amount of bleeding in patients over time, and looking at variables such age, stress, surgery and genetic factors, this grant will not only help us pinpoint why factor levels and the effects of the disease can change throughout a patient’s life, but also provide more accurate diagnoses for VWD,” said Dr. Robert Montgomery, senior investigator at Versiti Blood Research Institute.

Montgomery’s research is part of a larger effort, called The Zimmerman Program on the Biology of VWD. Versiti Blood Research Institute has contributed research through the program for more than a decade.

Versiti will collaborate with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, the Medical College of Wisconsin, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Queens University in Kingston, the University of Colorado, Washington University in St. Louis, and 10 clinical hemostasis centers across North America. The program officially began in March and runs through February 2024.

“Our investigators strive to make discoveries that contribute to better patient care. As we continue our search to find better treatments for children and adults battling bleeding disorders, we are honored to participate in this prestigious program which will help make a life-changing impact on people with von Willebrand disease in our community and around the world,” said Dr. Gilbert White, executive vice president of research and chief scientific officer at Versiti.

Versiti Blood Research Institute was also recently awarded a seven-year, $7.4 million federal contract to participate in a national program aimed at protecting the nation’s blood supply and improving the collection and use of blood products. The institute said it has been awarded more funding than any other blood center in the country by the NIH.

The Blood Research Institute is part of Milwaukee-based Versiti Inc., an affiliation of blood centers that includes centers in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio.