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In the News: Foerderer Awards, Megyn Kelly Today, Mitochondria and Aging, Pediatric Device Consortium, Breaking Through Podcast

Published on
August 10, 2018


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Are you looking for a little inspiration during these dog days of summer? This week’s roundup of research headlines features a fresh lineup of projects and people that get us excited for the months to come. Discover how an autoimmune disorder diagnosis changed one CHOP family’s life (and landed them on national TV), learn about six exciting pediatric medical devices (including one from a CHOP investigator) that recently received seed grant funding from the Philadelphia Pediatric Medical Device Consortium, and see the different ways our investigators and staff are reaching outside hospital walls to make an impact on children’s health in the media.

2018 Foerderer Grants Drive Novel CHOP Research

The Foerderer Grants, an internal award program at CHOP, are designed to help our investigators move their ongoing research into new and productive areas and apply new research techniques to their studies. Foerderer award winners often lead projects that foster interdisciplinary collaborations within CHOP and require a little extra support to generate pilot data so that they can later secure competitive external awards. This year, CHOP awarded 11 Foerderer Grants to researchers in a variety of disciplines with projects spanning topics in basic, translational, and clinical research. This year’s grantees are:

  • Aletha Akers, MD, MPH, FACOG, for her project, “Pilot Efficacy Trial of the Health Coaching for Contraceptive Continuation (HC3) Intervention”
  • Lisa N. Akhtar, MP, PhD, for her project, “Neurovirulence determinants of neonatal HSV disease”
  • Robert Avery, DO, MSCE, for his project, “Laser Speckle Flowgraphy in Sickle Cell”
  • Lamia P. Barakat, PhD, for her project, “Clinical Trials Decision Aid for Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer”
  • Margaret M. Chou, PhD, for her project, “Pathogenic mechanisms of a novel gender dimorphic cancer driven by PAX3-fusions”
  • Scott M. Gordon, MD, PhD, for his project, “Role of interleukin-15 in shaping the phenotype and function of novel decidual macrophages”
  • Misun Hwang, MD, for her project, “Novel ultrasound markers of brain injury in neonatal extracorporeal membrane oxygenation following ischemia-reperfusion injury” Chen Kenyon, MD, MSHP, for his project, “Automation of Asthma Adherence Incentive Rewards”
  • Charles Phillips, MD, for his project, “Improving Pediatric Cancer Patients’ Nutritional Outcomes: A Multi-Institutional Approach Using Electronic Health Records” Christopher Thom, MD, PhD, for his project, “Computational and biochemical investigation of platelet trait genetics”
  • Senbagam Virudachalam, MD, MSHP, for her project, “Every child nourished: Home cooking as a strategy to feed all young children”

CHOP Immunologist and Patient Family on Megyn Kelly Today

Seven-year-old CHOP patient Elijah Patino and his family joined Neil Romberg, MD, an immunologist at CHOP, live on NBC’s Megyn Kelly Today Aug. 2 to share their story about Elijah’s mystery illness and subsequent treatment. After a long diagnostic odyssey and years of painful symptoms, the Patinos had received a call from Dr. Romberg. With a team of clinicians and researchers at CHOP, Dr. Romberg identified the genetic defect that caused Elijah’s symptoms and named the condition CD40LG duplication-associated autoimmune disease. The team developed a personalized treatment for Elijah using his own cells that controlled the symptoms and gave Elijah the full and active life of baseball and big dreams he leads today.

“After five straight years of being in and out of the hospital, to see Elijah so active for the past year and a half has been wonderful,” said Elijah’s mom, Noami Patino, in this story about Elijah’s journey.

Read the press release and be sure to watch the TV interview.

Dr. Marni Falk Weighs in on New Mitochondrial Research

On top of conducting cutting-edge research, our clinician-investigators often engage in conversations about advances in their field for the mainstream media. In a recently published Philadelphia Inquirer article, Marni Falk, MD, director of the Mitochondrial Medicine Frontier Program at CHOP, gave her two cents concerning a new study from the University of Southern California that described how mitochondria, the miniscule cellular batteries of our bodies, play a role in human aging and in how our cells respond to stress.

“A lot of aging is mitochondrial failure,” Dr. Falk is quoted in the article.

At CHOP, Dr. Falk and other mitochondrial researchers seek to better understand how mitochondria exchange signals with a cell’s nucleus and how this communication can have consequences on overall health and disease.

Read the full Philly Inquirer article and learn more about Dr. Falk’s research within the Mitochondrial Medicine Frontier Program.

Pediatric Device Consortium Awards New Seed Grants

The CHOP-based Pennsylvania Pediatric Medical Device Consortium (PPDC) announced its latest round of seed grants, with six companies chosen among 10 finalists set to receive up to $50,000 toward their development of commercial medical devices for children. The PPDC joins CHOP, Drexel University, and the University of Pennsylvania in a collaboration funded by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to provide expertise and funding for innovators with promising ideas.

This year’s batch of projects range from brain injury to vision impairment to cystic fibrosis, and include one CHOP investigator, Jason Van Batavia, MD, attending urologist in the Division of Urology. With seed grant funding, Dr. Van Batavia is creating a device for pediatric patients and their families to keep track of urinary flow rates and patterns at home. The device uses real-time biofeedback, and data will be sent wirelessly to a smart phone or tablet while the patient’s doctor will also be able to remotely monitor the progress of their patient’s treatment. Other projects that received funding include an eye-tracking test for traumatic brain injury patients, a vision acuity test for preverbal children, and an airway clearance system.

“We are once again delighted to support innovators of promising medical devices that address unmet clinical needs in children,” said Matthew R. Maltese, PhD, the Consortium’s executive director and principal investigator, and the Director of Biomechanics Research for the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine at CHOP. “We received a strong field of proposals from which to choose.”

Find the full list of seed grant recipients and projects in the press release.

Learn more about Dr. Van Batavia’s current research in this blog post.

Breaking Through with Madeline Bell

If, like us, you love to learn about what goes on behind-the-scenes of our breakthroughs and discuss ways in which we can improve children’s health, get excited for a brand-new podcast from our own President and CEO, Madeline Bell. The podcast, named “Breaking Through with Madeline Bell”, will feature our world-renowned scientists, doctors, and nurses along with celebrities and community and business leaders. The first three episodes will feature Stephan Grupp, MD, PhD, director of our Cancer Immunotherapy Program who will offer insights into how CAR T-cell therapy is transforming pediatric cancer as well as Stefano Rivella, PhD, hematology researcher, and William Peranteau, MD, surgeon, who will describe their groundbreaking efforts to cure sickle cell disease.

“I’ve enjoyed hearing about my guests’ personal and professional breakthroughs and learning more about what inspires, challenges and motivates them,” said Bell in a press release. “There are so many amazing stories at CHOP, and ‘Breaking Through’ gives me the opportunity to share them with many more people.”

Read more in the press release and check out the podcast on iTunes or Podbean.