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Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting Packed With Discovery and Discussion

Published on May 4, 2018 in Cornerstone Blog · Last updated 3 months ago


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For many of our researchers, the annual Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) Meeting is more than just another conference or convention: It’s an exciting and educational event filled with discovery and discussion about the myriad ways we can improve children’s health. This year, experts from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia will convene in Toronto from May 5 to 8 for four days of networking, presentations, poster sessions, and awards. They’ll represent a range of pediatric fields — from behavioral health to bone health, injury research to emergency medicine, neonatology to autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and almost everything in between.

In this special edition of In the News, we look ahead to this weekend’s meeting and highlight a handful of presenters. Of course, we couldn’t fit everyone in, so we invite you to check out the full lineup of CHOP participation at PAS. And be sure to check out this video from our friends at PolicyLab, a Center of Emphasis at the Research Institute, to can hear what some of our investigators are looking forward to the most at PAS!

Elizabeth Bhoj Receives SPR Physician Scientist Award

Monday, May 7, SPR Presidential Scientific Plenary Session

Last year, we were thrilled to share that the inaugural recipient of the Society for Pediatric Research’s (SPR) Physician Scientist Award was one of our own, Sagori Mukhopadhyay, MD, an attending neonatologist at CHOP Newborn Care at Pennsylvania Hospital. This year, we are equally excited to announce that this year’s recipient is once again a CHOP faculty member:

Elizabeth Bhoj, MD, PhD, clinician-researcher in the Division of Human Genetics at CHOP. During the SPR’s Presidential Scientific Plenary Session, Dr. Bhoj, whose expertise lies in the field of translational genomics, will give a lecture titled “Novel Gene Discovery in a Cohort of Patients with Craniofacial and Neurologic Syndromes.”

Dr. Bhoj’s research, conducted in the laboratory of Hakon Hakonarson, MD, PhD, director of the Center for Applied Genomics at CHOP, focuses on the discovery of novel neurogenetic syndromes and the development of new therapies. A true “bench to bedside” scientist, Dr. Bhoj’s research involves bringing what she discovers through diagnostic clinical and molecular genetics under the microscope to unravel the mechanisms of the genes involved. Last year, Dr. Bhoj was a key part of a CHOP team who discovered a new growth disorder, Mulchandani-Bhoj-Conlin Syndrome (MBCS), that was named in recognition of their work. Currently, Dr. Bhoj studies patients who have undiagnosed neurologic and craniofacial syndromes.

Read more about Dr. Bhoj’s research in Bench to Bedside.

Driving After a Concussion: Moving Toward Objective Measures

Saturday, May 5

Over the last few years, our investigators have led the field of concussion research to keep up with increasing diagnosis rates among children and teens. And while clinicians currently implement protocols for when youth should return to school or sports after experiencing a concussion, researchers have not yet established objective measures that could guide when a teen driver can return to the road.

At this year’s meeting, a team of researchers from our Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) will present new research that establishes the feasibility of measuring physiologic differences between healthy and recently concussed adolescents during complex driving situations. By having a small group of adolescents — three recently concussed and two controls — complete a simulated driving assessment while wearing eye trackers, the team observed how the injured teens exhibited different pupillary responses to increasingly complex driving compared to their non-injured counterparts. These results suggest that a standardized driving simulator protocol along with other assessment tools could help researchers detect physiologic deficits that might guide objective measures and a return-to-drive protocol.

Presenters: Olivia Podolak, MD, postdoctoral fellow at CIRP; Kristy Arbogast, PhD, co-scientific director of CIRP; Christina Master, MD, sports medicine pediatrician; Catherine McDonald, PhD, RN, senior fellow at CIRP; Divya Jain, doctoral student at CIRP.

Read more about concussion studies in Bench to Bedside and driving safety research on Cornerstone.

An App for That: Customizing Asthma Medication Reminders and Incentives

Saturday, May 5

Our researchers are constantly finding new ways to innovate and improve technology-based interventions to help patients and families adhere to their asthma control plans. This Saturday, a team of researchers from PolicyLab and Clinical Futures will present their research into whether daily push notifications, delivered through a smartphone app, as well as incentivizing strategies could help to further improve inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) regimens. The research focused on urban minority children with persistent asthma, which is a high-risk population shown to have high rates of asthma hospitalization and low adherence to ICS regimens.

After enrolling 20 families into their study, the team found that average ICS adherence proved significantly higher when participants received daily medication reminders and incentives (in the form of $1 a day toward any $40 reward of the child’s choice) compared to monitoring alone. Some of the themes that emerged from the participants’ feedback included the helpfulness of tracking medication use and the incentives as a motivator for the child to take their medicine.

Presenters: Kavya Sundar, clinical research assistant at PolicyLab and Clinical Futures; Siobhan Gruschow, MPH, MED, clinical research coordinator at PolicyLab and Clinical Futures; Tyra Bryant-Stephens, MD, medical director of the Community Asthma Prevention Program; William Quarshie, member of the Healthcare Analytics Unit at PolicyLab and Clinical Futures; Victoria Miller, PhD, psychologist in the Division of Adolescent Medicine; Chris Feudtner, MD, MPH, PhD, director of research for the Pediatric Advanced Care Team; Chen Kenyon, MD, pediatrician in the Division of General Pediatrics.

Demographic-Based Disparities in Referral Rates After ASD Screening

Sunday, May 6

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that when children fail standardized screening for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), they should be referred to Early Intervention (EI), audiology, and further diagnostic evaluation. But despite AAP guidelines for ASD screening in early childhood, and nearly universal screening in CHOP’s large primary care network, researchers at our Center for Autism Research (CAR) wondered whether some groups of children were more likely to be referred to EI than others.

On Sunday, the team will present research that found referrals made in response to failed ASD screening are not universal: Boys were more likely to be referred than girls, while Asian and black children were less likely to be referred than white children. These demographic differences in referral rates may play a role in disparities in the age and rates of ASD diagnosis in minority patients.

Presenters: Kate Wallis, MD, MPH, fellow in the Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics Fellowship at CHOP; Whitney Guthrie, PhD, postdoctoral fellow at CAR; Judith Miller, PhD, senior scientist and training director at CAR; Amanda Bennett, MD, MPH, developmental pediatrician at CAR; Marsha Gerdes, PhD, senior psychologist with PolicyLab; Kristin Fleming, fellow with the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics; Juhi Pandey, PhD, senior scientist at CAR; Susan Levy, MD, MPH, medical director at CAR; David Mandell, ScD, associate director at CAR.

Learn about what else investigators at CAR are up to on Cornerstone.

Equity in the ED: Examining Racial Differences in Sepsis Alerts

Tuesday, May 8

Treatment for sepsis, the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in children worldwide, continues to improve in its timeliness and impact with ongoing research into the use of electronic alerts; however, until now, researchers have not studied equity as an element of quality healthcare when it comes to sepsis. Addressing this gap in knowledge, a team from our Division of Emergency Medicine and Clinical Futures will share their results from a study that examined whether racial differences might affect sepsis recognition in the pediatric emergency department (ED).

When using an electronic alert system, white patients were more likely than black patients to have a positive sepsis alert, but there were no differences in the actual use of sepsis protocol. Outside of the alert system — when decisions were based on clinical judgement — white patients were more likely than black patients to be treated with the sepsis protocol. This difference persisted after the team adjusted for insurance status and high-risk conditions, suggesting that electronic alerts could potentially reduce racial differences in care.

The study builds on impactful work into implicit racial bias led by Tiffani Johnson, MD, attending physician in the Division of Emergency Medicine who was also involved in the current research. Dr. Johnson’s research illustrates how unconscious biases can affect how a physician in the ED might treat a child of a particular race or ethnicity.

Presenters: Jenny Raman, CHOP Research Institute 2017 Summer Scholar; Tiffani Johnson, MD, attending physician in the Division of Emergency Medicine; Katie Hayes, Research Program Coordinator at Clinical Futures; Frances Balamuth, MD, PhD, attending physician in the Division of Emergency Medicine.

Learn more about Dr. Johnson’s research into implicit racial bias on Bench to Bedside.

If you’ll be attending PAS, visit CHOP’s booth, No. 918, to pick up materials with new details about our research, clinical programs, and resources. Check the PAS final program guide for any updates on dates, times, and locations.