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Three Reasons Why the Research Institute is an Amazing Place for Discovery

Published on Dec 15, 2022 · Last Updated 1 year 4 months ago


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Brenda Banwell, MD, chief of the Division of Neurology and co-director of the new Neuroscience Center, describes the unparalleled breadth and depth of experience at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute, where our investment in excellence powers new discoveries, new diagnoses, and new therapies for families all over the world.


CHOP is a wonderful place to be involved in research for a number of really terrific reasons. First and foremost, is the patient population community that we are embedded in and serve. We have a large city and tri-state region that come to us as their main home for patient care. As such, our research is really and truly meeting the needs of our community. Our community needs us and we need them.

Second, we are the place that people come to when they really can’t find an answer anywhere else. We are the place that discovers new diagnoses. We are the place that develops new therapies. We’re the place that people come to when their child doesn’t have an option elsewhere, and those children come to us from all over the world. And so when you’re looking at understanding pediatric health and certainly understanding it at the depth and level that we can do in a resourced institution like CHOP, it’s an amazing place for discovery.

Rare diseases in most places, we may have several hundred children with that diagnosis. Well, that matters when you want to understand what’s going on in a child’s history and what’s going on in their health. If you can say to them, ‘Well, I have a large group of children who look like you do, who have some of the same challenges that you have.’ To say to a parent: ‘We have other parents you can talk to who know what you’re going through.’ That’s a world of difference and makes a difference on every level. So CHOP embodies all of that.

CHOP also really puts its money where its mouth is in that old expression in terms of saying, ‘We will invest in excellence and we’ll do it in innovative ways.’ So the Frontier programs, which I think have been a pivotal advance at CHOP, are really well funded programs that allow researchers to bring forward innovative ideas that encompass both clinical care, basic science, translational medicine, and sustainability. And those centers of excellence become the home for many families worldwide because they are fostering work that just simply can’t be done elsewhere by teams that wouldn’t exist everywhere else.

And I think the third is numbers. There is power in numbers of people. We employ at CHOP an amazing cadre of individuals. Our frontline providers, our frontline desk staff, our coordinators. To a person, they’re here because they care about children.

But beyond that as well, we have the incredible breadth and depth of research innovation where you can go down the hall and find the world expert in a particular disorder sitting right beside the world expert in another disorder. And you can keep going down the hall. And literally, that’s what’s happening in every room that you go down. And that’s just unparalleled. I have never yet, in 10 years, not been able to find someone to help in the care of a child who is unbelievably knowledgeable and unbelievably willing to share that knowledge.

So when you put that all together — this is an incredible place to be involved in clinical discovery.