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Dr. Flake is a general pediatric surgeon with a clinical and research focus on prenatal treatment ranging from the fetal surgical repair of anatomic anomalies to prenatal stem cell and gene therapy. He has extensive experience in developing rodent, canine, and sheep models for in utero transplantation and for investigating fetal surgery for anatomic malformations.
Dr. Flake’s research focuses on prenatal treatment ranging from the fetal surgical repair of anatomic anomalies to prenatal stem cell and gene therapy. He has extensive experience developing models for in utero transplantation and for investigating fetal surgery for anatomic malformations.
He has been involved in numerous clinical trials, including randomized trials comparing prenatal and postnatal repair of congenital diaphragmatic hernia and a trial comparing prenatal and postnatal repair of myelomeningocele.
He is the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia surgeon for the Biliary Atresia Research Consortium and the NICHD/Neonatal Research Network NEST trial, as well as a member of CHOP’s Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Therapy.
Dr. Flake was the first to investigate the therapeutic potential of in utero stem cell transplantation (IUSCT) for treating hematopoietic and other genetic disorders by demonstrating that transplanting allogeneic hematopoietic cells early in gestation achieve clinically significant levels of hematopoietic chimerism. He continues to study the requirements to engraftment and developed a pre-clinical canine model of IUSCT in which he has achieved clinically relevant levels of donor engraftment with a goal of prenatal treatment of hemoglobinopathies.
Another area of research for Dr. Flake involves in utero gene therapy; he was one of the first investigators in this field and helped define the potential advantages and limitations of the approach. He has investigated the tropisms of a variety of vector types at various stages of development and studied the efficacy of the therapeutic approach in the treatment of animal models of human disease.
Dr. Flake is renowned for his fetal surgery research and ultimately helped bring it to clinical application. He was instrumental in developing many innovative aspects of fetal surgery and he has published extensively on the subject, particularly on prenatal repair of congenital diaphragmatic hernia, myelomeningocele, and sacrococcygeal teratoma.
Education and Training
BS, University of Arkansas (Chemistry), 1977
MD, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, 1981
Fellowship, University of California at San Francisco (Fetal Therapy), 1986
Fellowship, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (Pediatric Surgery), 1990
Titles and Academic Titles
Director, Center for Fetal Research
Ruth M. and Tristram C. Colket Jr. Endowed Chair in Pediatric Surgery
Professor of Surgery and Obstetrics
Young Investigators Award, American Academy of Pediatrics, Surgical Section, 1985
Sheen Award, American College of Surgeons, 2007