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In the News: Philadelphia Teens Drink Less Soda, CHOP Partners With YouTube, Early Investigator’s Award, Adenovirus Discovery

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October 29, 2021
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In the News

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

As the leaves and temperature continue to fall, warm up while reading this week's roundup of research headlines. Learn about CHOP's partnership with YouTube to create informative vaccine videos, the reduction of soda drinking among Philadelphia teens, and who among us earned an Early Investigator's award. We also report on a study from CHOP researchers whose discovery challenges the principles of what scientists thought they understood about DNA viruses.

Senbagam Virudachalam, MD, MSHP

Senbagam Virudachalam, MD, MSHP

Beverage Tax Linked to Reduction of Soda Drinking Among Philadelphia Teens

With soda holding the tarnished trophy as the leading source of added sugars in the American diet, CHOP researchers set out to estimate the association between the Philadelphia sweetened beverage tax and teen soda intake. The study findings published in JAMA Pediatrics, revealed adolescent soda consumption in Philadelphia dropped by 15 percent two years after the city's tax on sugary drinks went into effect January 2017. In subgroup analysis, the beverage tax was associated with a drop of over one serving per week in Hispanic/Latinx adolescents (1.13) and in adolescents with obesity (1.2).

The study included more than 86,000 high school students, grades 9 to 12, in school districts participating in the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, a database of national survey results conducted by the Center for Disease Control to monitor and track health behaviors in children and young adults that lead to death, disability, and social problems. They reviewed data of soda servings per week from 2013 to 2019 for high school students in Philadelphia, compared to seven other cities that do not have a sugar-sweetened beverage tax.

"This economic evaluation found that a sweetened beverage tax was associated with a reduction in soda intake among adolescents, providing evidence that such taxes can improve dietary behaviors," noted the authors, including senior author Senbagam Virudachalam, MD, MSHP, a faculty member in the Center for Pediatric Clinical Effectiveness and PolicyLab.

Read this BillyPenn newsletter to learn more.

Wesley Baker, PhD

Wesley Baker, PhD

And the Early Investigator Award Goes to … Wesley Baker, PhD

Congratulations go out to Wesley Baker, PhD, CHOP's director of the Biomedical Optical Devices to Monitor Cerebral Health Frontier Program, who was selected as the winner of The Society for functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (SfNIRS) 2021 Early Investigator Award. SfNIRS is a professional global organization whose members are basic and clinical scientists who seek to understand the functional properties of biological tissues, especially the brain, using optical methods.

"I'm very honored to be selected for this prestigious award," Dr. Baker said. "My translational research on using diffuse optics technologies to enhance care for pediatric hydrocephalus has truly been a team effort. I'm extremely grateful to the members of the June and Steve Wolfson Family Laboratory for Clinical and Biomedical Optics, my clinical collaborators, and the clinical staff at CHOP. Without their extensive support, my research would not be possible."

This prestigious award is given out biannually at the SfNIRS scientific meeting, which was held this month, and takes into account research contributions to date, as well as an oral presentation of three short-listed candidates. Dr. Baker's presentation "Optical Detection of Shunt Failure in Pediatric Hydrocephalus," highlighted the exciting results of the hydrocephalus clinical studies to a conference audience of several hundred attendees.

Paul Offit, MD

Paul Offit, MD

CHOP Plus YouTube Equals Informative Vaccine Videos

Creating informative vaccine videos is the charge of a new partnership between the popular video platform YouTube and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American College of Physicians. This new venture is part of YouTube's commitment to dispelling vaccine misinformation and providing trusted, science-based information.

Paul Offit, MD, director of CHOP's Vaccine Education Center, an internationally recognized expert in the fields of virology and immunology, and a leader in the global movement to reduce vaccine hesitancy, will be featured in a series of 15 videos focused on common questions about pediatric vaccines. In some of the videos, Dr. Offit will be featured alongside other influential pediatricians to provide science-based information and address misinformation.

"The Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is thrilled to partner with YouTube on this important initiative," Dr. Offit said. "By bringing together accurate, up-to-date science related to vaccine safety concerns and YouTube's commitment to ensuring the best vaccine information for its global audience, we see this partnership as a win for children and their families."

To learn more about this partnership visit CHOP News and YouTube's website.

Matthew Weitzman, PhD

Matthew Weitzman, PhD

Study Reveals Discovery Regarding Adenovirus Infection and Double-stranded RNA

Challenging the principles of what scientists thought they understood about DNA viruses, CHOP researchers have shown that adenovirus uses its own efficient RNA splicing mechanisms to prevent the formation of double-stranded RNA — which otherwise would trigger a host immune response. The study revealed that adenovirus evades host sensors that activate the immune system in the presence of double-stranded RNA, by splicing its RNA transcripts in a way that prevents them from pairing with other viral messages. Nucleic Acids Research published the novel findings.

"Through highly collaborative work, this study highlights a novel mechanism by which viruses can escape innate immune recognition by modulating host factors to promote efficient viral RNA production," said senior author Matthew Weitzman, PhD, co-director of the Division of Protective Immunity at CHOP. "Future research will need to account for this new discovery and investigate factors like small viral RNAs that were thought to block double-stranded RNA responses but, as these findings indicate, must exist for some other reason."

See this CHOP press release to learn more.

ICYMI

Catch up on our headlines from our October 15 In the News:

  • Dr. Susan Furth Featured on Becker's Women's Leadership Podcast
  • Researchers Find Dramatic Drop in Vaccinations During Early Pandemic
  • CHOP Researchers Find Golf Carts Injure More than 6,500 Children Annually
  • CHOP-led Study Finds Healthy Newborns Had Shorter Hospital Stays During COVID-19 Pandemic with No Change in Readmissions
  • Two CHOP Researchers Receive NIH Funding for "High Risk, High Reward" Research
  • CHOP Clinicians Closely Monitor Lingering Effects of COVID-19

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