Along with its research partners Drexel University and Hebrew University of Jerusalem, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute recently hosted a collaborative research symposium that gave researchers from all three institutions the chance to connect and share ideas.
The Advancing Healthcare for Children symposium, held Jan. 27-29 brought together investigators for presentations, discussions, and networking events.
Announced in November, the research agreement between Children’s Hospital, Drexel University, and Hebrew University will focus on pediatric translational research and moving investigations from the bench to the bedside. One of the goals of the symposium was to form collaborative “Dream Teams” of investigators who would unite to craft innovative solutions to challenges.
Saying in his opening remarks that “we must dare to cross disciplinary and national boundaries” to meet unmet medical needs, John A. Fry, president of Drexel University, noted “our job is to take bold steps” and break through barriers.
The symposium also featured a visit from Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. The research agreement between Children’s Hospital, Drexel University, and Hebrew University came about in part due to a trade mission Mayor Nutter led to Israel in November 2013. CHOP and Drexel’s “partnership with Hebrew University will allow all three parties to share research and ultimately improve children’s healthcare,” said Mayor Nutter when the agreement was signed.
And on the opening day of the symposium, after proudly noting that Children’s Hospital was “the best children’s hospital in the U.S.,” Mayor Nutter said that he could think of no better place to celebrate such a “tremendous collaboration.”
The symposium featured sessions on everything from the nervous system to orphan diseases to pediatric cancers and drug discovery. In addition to several plenary sessions, concurrent breakout sessions on topics such as nervous system disorders, nanomedicine, gene therapy, and autoimmunity promoted dialogue and collegiality between experts.
For example, during the session “Transformative Approaches to Diseases and Disorders of Childhood,” Director of CHOP Research Philip R Johnson, MD, said that defining the future of pediatric medicine “is a tall challenge.” But in Dr. Johnson’s talk, he challenged researchers to consider the interplay of genomics and microbiomes, as they considered ways to advance pediatric care.
Over the course of the symposium, investigators from all three organizations presented. Researchers from Children’s Hospital included Robert J. Levy, MD, Stewart Anderson, MD, Hakon Hakonarson, MD, PhD, and Marni Falk, MD. Drexel University’s representatives included Kenny Simansky, PhD, Amir Toib, MD, and Sriram Balasubramanian, PhD, while a number of Hebrew University investigators attended, including Rami Yaka, PhD, Eylon Yavin, PhD, and Galia Blum, PhD.
On the final day of the symposium, participants were given the opportunity to meet with meeting participants privately for one-on-one discussions. These meetings allowed investigators to follow up on presentations and discussions, and served as the first step in the development of new collaborations.
“The symposium really exceeded our expectations,” said CHOP Research’s Deputy Scientific Director Tom Curran, PhD, FRS, who led the organization of the symposium. “It set the tone for us to work together, transcending traditional boundaries, and forming unique collaborations with the common theme of improving the health and welfare of children.”
The investigators will continue their discussions in the coming weeks and work to develop and hone various “Dream Teams” to tackle pediatric diseases.
To learn more about the Advancing Healthcare for Children symposium, see the symposium’s website.