Children's Hospital to Coordinate New Multicenter Network in Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics

10/13/2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010

Philadelphia, Oct. 13, 2010—Recognizing both medical progress and unmet needs in the field of developmental disabilities, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia will house the Network Coordinating Center for a newly established collaborative organization, the Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics Research Network.

Launched this year with a three-year, $200,000 per year grant from the federal government’s Maternal Child Health Bureau, the Network brings together experts from 12 leading pediatric programs to focus on a broad range of neurodevelopmental disabilities, notably autism spectrum disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and intellectual disability (formerly referred to as mental retardation, and affecting an estimated 2 to 3 percent of children).

These disabilities often involve problems in learning, attention, inappropriate behaviors, sleep and social skills.

“These conditions are highly challenging to families, educational systems and caregivers,” said Nathan J. Blum, M.D., chair of the Network’s Executive Committee, and the director of the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Program at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Two of our largest challenges are how to best individualize treatments to our patients, and how to develop more effective interventions for these conditions.”

Even for the most effective treatments, added Blum, such as using stimulant medication for ADHD, a significant number of patients do not respond well to existing treatments. For many other developmental disorders, treatments remain to be developed or adequately evaluated.

By fostering collaboration among leading clinical and research programs, said Blum, the Network will be able to sponsor multi-site studies in many patients to provide a large enough sample size to properly evaluate new treatments as they are developed.

The Network will also provide opportunities to make use of recent advances in genetics and neuroimaging, as applied to neurodevelopmental disorders. As those technologies may lead to better diagnostic tools, they offer the potential of earlier diagnosis and possibly earlier interventions. In particular, genetic studies such as those conducted at Children’s Hospital’s Center for Applied Genomics and other facilities are identifying biochemical pathways that are altered in neurodevelopmental conditions.

“We expect that greater knowledge of these biological pathways will allow scientists to develop drugs to target specific disabilities and potentially reverse learning deficits,” said Blum. “Having a developmental-pediatrics research network will provide greater opportunities to investigate the effectiveness of new drug candidates, and more rapidly translate basic science findings into eventual clinical treatments.”

In its initial stages, said Blum, the new Network will develop the infrastructure to build itself, will agree on a research agenda, will standardize data collection from its member sites, and will initiate smaller projects to share data. The Network Coordinating Center, based at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, will organize the Network’s central administrative functions. The Network will then select and implement new research studies.

Other members of the Network are Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Boston University Medical Center; Children’s Hospital, Boston; Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center; Hasbro Children’s Hospital; Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital; Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital; the University of Arkansas Medical Center; the University of California at Davis MIND Institute; the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center; and the Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital.

About The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia: The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia was founded in 1855 as the nation's first pediatric hospital. Through its long-standing commitment to providing exceptional patient care, training new generations of pediatric healthcare professionals and pioneering major research initiatives, Children’s Hospital has fostered many discoveries that have benefited children worldwide. Its pediatric research program is among the largest in the country, ranking third in National Institutes of Health funding. In addition, its unique family-centered care and public service programs have brought the 460-bed hospital recognition as a leading advocate for children and adolescents. For more information, visit http://www.chop.edu.

Contact: John Ascenzi
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Phone: (267) 426-6055
Ascenzi@email.chop.edu