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Clinical Futures Putting Research Into Practice With Pilot Grant Program

Published on September 6, 2017 in Cornerstone Blog · Last updated 3 months 4 weeks ago


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As summer fades, it’s exciting to embrace a new season filled with vibrant opportunities. Clinical Futures, a CHOP Research Institute Center of Emphasis, is ushering in the fall with a call for applications to its Pilot Grant Program. The program aims to support CHOP investigators who are interested in conducting studies designed to gather evidence about novel strategies that could shift current research or a clinical practice paradigm.

But we can’t say so long to summer without looking back at the latest Clinical Futures pilot grant winners whose projects began in June and are going strong. We asked the three recipients — Kate Henry, MD, MSCE, a child abuse fellow; Rachael Ross, MPH, a senior research associate with the division of Infectious Diseases; and Jenna Streicher, MD, a clinical assistant professor of Dermatology — about what makes their projects innovative and how the results could lead to future research.

Kate Henry: Assessing a Radiation-free Imaging Alternative for Young Children

Dr. Henry will use her award to evaluate the effectiveness of contrast-enhanced ultrasound in the detection of abdominal solid organ injury in young children presenting with concern for blunt abdominal trauma. The current standard diagnostic tool for evaluation of abdominal trauma, computed tomography, is associated with radiation exposure. Alternatively, standard ultrasound has relatively low sensitivity for intra-abdominal injury. Contrast-enhanced ultrasound increases the sensitivity without radiation, and has shown promising results as an imaging tool in adults and older children. The goal of this study is to obtain pilot data to assess whether contrast-enhanced ultrasound is effective as a radiation-free imaging alternative in the evaluation of young children with suspected blunt abdominal trauma.

“I am grateful to the Clinical Futures Pilot Grant program for funding our study,” Dr. Henry said. “Identifying a sensitive and radiation-free way to evaluate for abdominal injuries could reduce barriers to screening for injuries in young children. This is especially important among children who may be victims of physical abuse, as identification of an abdominal injury may affect abuse recognition. I am excited to collaborate with a multidisciplinary team of dedicated mentors.”

Rachael Ross: Improving Judicious Use of Antibiotics

Ross will use electronic health record data to develop population definitions that can be used to assess antibiotic prescribing for acute respiratory tract infections (ARTIs) in children. ARTIs are common indications for antibiotic prescribing in children, but not all of these prescriptions are necessary. The project will inform antimicrobial stewardship interventions, which aim to improve the judicious use of antibiotics in the CHOP primary network and beyond.

“In the CHOP network, we previously observed large differences in the proportion of children diagnosed with ARTIs who receive antibiotics,” Ross said. “But we don't know what is driving this variation. I am excited to investigate this issue and to understand if the variation changes depending on how we define the patient population.”

Jenna Streicher: Informing Treatment Protocols for Infantile Hemangiomas

Dr. Streicher will study the treatment of infantile hemangiomas (IH), the most common vascular tumor in children. While usually benign, sometimes complications warrant treatment of IH with oral propranolol. Currently the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends inpatient administration for infants younger than 8 weeks and outpatient administration for infants 8 weeks or older. However, there is little data about the rate of hospitalization for infants under 8 weeks old for propranolol initiation, or about the incidence of side effects of the treatment in these young patients. Better characterization will inform future treatment protocols.

“Pediatric dermatologists routinely treat children with IH with propranolol, but providers often struggle deciding when it is truly necessary to admit young infants for initiation of treatment, as it can be arduous for families,” Dr. Streicher said. “This study has potential to directly impact clinical guidelines by allowing us to better understand whether there are increased risks in these infants warranting an admission versus consideration of updating initiation protocols to the outpatient setting.”

Contact Holly Burnside with any questions about the Clinical Futures Pilot Grant Program, eligibility, or the application and submission process. Applications for the fall funding cycle are due no later than 4 p.m. Oct. 2, 2017.