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In The News: COVID-19 Depression, Outstanding Science Award, Sports Injuries, Junior Investigator Awards, Philadelphia Magazine

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May 14, 2021
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In the News

mccannn [at] chop.edu (By Nancy McCann)

In this week's round-up of research news, read about the link between depression and pandemic-related income loss and financial strain, and changes in pediatric sports injury presentation during COVID-19. Learn who among us Philadelphia Magazine quoted in a feature article about gene therapy, and who received Young Investigator and Outstanding Science awards.

Depression Linked to Financial Strain Due to COVID-19

Ran Barzilay, MD, PhD

Ran Barzilay, MD, PhD

In the latest study from the COVID-19 Resilience Project, run by the Lifespan Brain Institute (LiBI) of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, researchers discovered depressive symptoms — independent of anxiety — were uniquely associated with pandemic-related income loss and financial strain in two countries — the United States and Israel. The Journal of Affective Disorders published the findings.

Across these two independent studies, the researchers found a specific link between financial factors and depression, above and beyond anxiety, which was greater than the association between COVID-19 health-related worries and depression. The researchers also learned that participants from both cohorts who reported a decrease in their income over the study period reported an increase in depressive symptoms over time.

"This study is an important first step in understanding the unique association between pandemic-related income loss and financial strain and depression, which we observed in two entirely unrelated cohorts," said senior author Ran Barzilay, MD, PhD, an assistant professor at LiBI. "Our findings may suggest that the 'financial COVID-19' could have a serious impact on mental health, and this is especially relevant as the post-vaccine world faces the challenges of COVID-19's long-term financial impact."

See this CHOP press release to learn more.

And the Outstanding Science Award Goes to … Lisa Young, MD

Lisa young, MD

Lisa young, MD

We're pleased to announce Lisa Young, MD, chief of the Division of Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine at CHOP, is the recipient of the 2021 Norman J. Siegel Outstanding Science Award. Dr. Young received the award for her considerable contributions to pediatric science May 3 during the Pediatric Academic Societies 2021 Virtual Meeting.

In addition to her duties as chief of the Division of Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine, Dr. Young is professor of Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania, and associate director of the Penn-CHOP Lung Biology Institute. Dr. Young is an international leader and expert on pediatric rare lung diseases, with particular emphasis in rare interstitial lung disease.

"Dr. Young is a talented scientist whose state-of-the art research addresses the underlying causes of genetic and developmental lung diseases in children," said CHOP Physician-in-Chief, Joseph St. Geme, MD. "With her renowned background in advancing care for children with rare forms of lung disease, she leads a dedicated team that is able to offer our patients and families the most cutting-edge medical care and the best possible outcomes."

Learn more in this CHOP press release.

Study Shows Changes in Pediatric Sports Injury Presentation During COVID-19

Theodore Ganley, MD

Theodore Ganley, MD

With the current coronavirus pandemic prompting public health response measures such as social distancing, school cancellations, and cessation of organized sports, Theodore Ganley, MD, and clinicians from the Sports Medicine and Performance Center at CHOP, examined the impact of COVID-19 and the related public health measures on the characteristics of common sports and pediatric musculoskeletal injuries, such as fractures, ligament tears, ankle sprains. The CHOP team, collaborating with clinicians nationally, evaluated sports injuries at geographically diverse level I pediatric trauma hospitals and orthopedic clinics in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic and a pre-pandemic period.

The findings, published in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, revealed that during the pandemic the overall volume of pediatric musculoskeletal injury presentation across the U.S decreased, sports injuries decreased, and the proportion of injuries occurring in the home, including clavicle fractures, increased. Throughout the pandemic, patients were seen without significant delay.

"With social distancing and working from home initiatives likely to remain in effect moving forward," said senior author Dr. Ganley, director of CHOP's Sports Medicine and Performance Center, "the information presented here highlights the changing epidemiology of musculoskeletal injuries in pediatric patients and represents an important opportunity for basic safety precautions for injury prevention at home."

Two CHOP Docs Receive 2021 Junior Investigator Awards

Alicia Alcomo, MD, MPH

Alicia Alcomo, MD, MPH

Congratulations go out to Alicia Alcomo, MD, MPH, and Ganesh Moorthy, PhD, as recipients of the 2021 Junior Investigator Preliminary/Feasibility Grant Programs (JIPGP) Award. The Center for Human Phenomic Sciences (CHPS) offers the JIPGP award to support the work of promising junior investigators by providing grant support, reduced cost access to the infrastructure, and support services. The awards are designed to allow junior faculty members and MD, PhD, or DMD post-doctoral trainees with appropriate mentors to obtain funds for pilot projects that are investigator-initiated, human-based, CHPS studies, enabling an applicant to obtain preliminary data.

Dr. Alcamo's grant, "Outcomes Following Acute Brain Dysfunction in Pediatric Sepsis," focuses on the fact that acute brain dysfunction occurs in up to 20 percent of sepsis episodes, but the current definition of acute brain dysfunction has significant limitations. Her project utilizes a computational phenotype of acute brain dysfunction, developed in collaboration with the CHOP Arcus Program, to more efficiently and reliably identify patients with acute brain dysfunction during sepsis. She hopes to determine the association of acute brain dysfunction during sepsis with mortality and morbidity outcomes.

Dr. Alcamo's mentors for this grant include Scott Weiss, MD, MSCE, Martha Curley, PhD, RN, FAAN, and Alexis Topjian, MD, MSCE.

Ganesh Moorthy, PhD

Ganesh Moorthy, PhD

With his grant "Clinical Validation of a Patient-Centric Creatinine Microsampling Assay," Dr. Moorthy, a research assistant professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, is looking to develop and investigate the utility of a small volume creatinine whole blood assay that has the potential to improve patient safety and enable remote sampling.

"I thank the JIPGP selection committee for their timely and enthusiastic support to investigate this novel patient-centric microsampling technology," Dr. Moorthy said.

Philadelphia Magazine Recognizes CHOP's Gene Therapy Contributions

Beverly Davidson, PhD

Beverly Davidson, PhD

In a feature article touting the scientific advancements and life-altering clinical applications of gene therapy today, Philadelphia Magazine spoke with four of our doctors exploring gene-based therapeutic approaches for diseases, from Huntington's disease to sickle cell disease.

Researchers Denise Sabatino, PhD, and Lindsey George, MD spoke of their work developing gene therapies for hemophilia, an inherited blood clotting disorder. Dr. George, a hematologist and director of clinical in vivo gene therapy at CHOP, is the lead investigator in the clinical trial testing of a gene therapy for hemophilia discussed in the article.

Pediatric Oncologist Stephan Grupp, MD, PhD, director of Translational Research in Center for Childhood Cancer Research, director of the Cancer Immunotherapy Frontier Program, and chief of the Cellular Therapy and Transplant Section, talked of a gene-editing technology, known as CRISPR-Cas9, which is a way to possibly edit out disease by revising a part of the genetic code a cell already possesses.

And Beverly Davidson, PhD, Chief Scientific Strategy Officer, director of the Raymond G. Perelman Center for Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics, and director of the Research Vector Core, has been exploring gene therapy as a means to treat degenerative neurological conditions for decades. Dr. Davidson shared her enthusiasm for the potential of gene therapy: "Having lived through a couple of decades of hype and hope and then realism, I think for the first time, there have been major advances in the gene therapy space that show us it can work."

Read the full article here.

Nose, Lungs in Concordance for SARS-CoV-2 in Pediatric Patients

Elaina Lin, MD

Elaina Lin, MD

In the second paper from the Concordance of Findings in Respiratory Sample Measurements (CONFIRM COVID-19) study, Elaina Lin, MD, and fellow CHOP researchers determined that there was 99.4 percent concordance of upper and lower respiratory samples for SARS-CoV-2 in asymptomatic children presenting for surgery. The findings appeared in Anesthesiology.

Their data also suggest that in asymptomatic pediatric patients, nasopharyngeal swab samples are more sensitive for detecting SARS-CoV-2 than tracheal aspirate samples, a method of obtaining tracheal secretions, or bronchoalveolar lavage samples, a procedure performed during a bronchoscopy that collects fluid from the lungs. False negative results were also found to be extremely rare.

"As pediatric specialists determine how to safely care for patients in the setting of COVID-19, understanding viral reservoirs and the accuracy of test sampling sites in children is vital," said Dr. Lin, an anesthesiologist in the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine. "The results of this systematic study are reassuring to providers who perform aerosol-generating procedures in children. The results support the pre-procedure use of upper respiratory sample testing as a safe and accurate screening."

Learn more about the CONFIRM study in this Cornerstone article.

ICYMI

Catch up on our headlines from our April 30 In the News:

  • Center for Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics Honored by ISPE for Advancing Technology, Innovation
  • Autistic Adolescents Learning to Drive Benefit From Individualized Training
  • Minimally Invasive Assay Accurately Predicts Clinical EoE Milk Allergy
  • Nurse Scientist Receives ATS 2021 Minority Trainee Development Scholarship
  • See You at the Virtual Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting

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