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Kids First Data Center (DRC), CHOP's Health Hero, Concussions on Air, Coping for Parents, Madeline Bell Modern Healthcare

Published on August 25, 2017 in Cornerstone Blog · Last updated 6 days 10 hours ago


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Every day, we learn about the exciting new ways our investigators and staff at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia modernize medicine and revolutionize healthcare for children. This week, we’re thrilled to report on a handful of new headlines about those breakthroughs, including a data-driven collaboration led by CHOP that aims to uncover the ties between cancer and birth defects through cloud-sharing technology, Madeline Bell’s recent inclusion into Modern Healthcare’s “100 Most Influential People in Healthcare” for 2017, and how our clinicians are improving community health beyond the clinic. Here are your latest highlights in CHOP research news.

d3b Leads Data Collaboration for Cancer and Structural Birth Defects

Scientists are continually discovering more about the developmental connection between pediatric cancer and structural birth defects. With the right research tools for sharing data across institutions, these discoveries can only amplify. The Center for Data-Driven Discovery in Biomedicine (D3B) at CHOP announced that they will lead a new collaborative program called the Kids First Pediatric Data Resource Center (DRC), funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Common Fund. The DRC seeks to discover the causes of pediatric cancer and structural birth defects by building a centralized cloud-based database.

The platform will contain clinical and genetic sequences of patients and their families from dozens of cancer and birth defect cohorts. Access to a discovery portal of this size will give researchers the power to search large genomic datasets and detect the genetic pathways that potentially link congenital heart defects, hearing loss, or cleft palates to cancer. The DRC’s strength lies in its unique partnership with the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, the University of Chicago, Children’s National Health System, the Oregon Health and Science University, and Seven Bridges, a biomedical data analysis company

“For clinicians, structural birth defects and cancer have been some of the most challenging areas of pediatric medicine,” said N. Scott Adzick, MD, CHOP’s surgeon-in-chief and director of the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment, in a press statement. “For the first time, clinicians and researchers, along with academic, government and commercial partners, are coming together to fully harness the power of emergent technologies, shared data, and precision medicine. This collaboration will lead to improved outcomes for every child across all of these diseases."

Learn more in the press release.

Be Well Philly Names Dr. Senbagam Virudachalam a Semifinalist in ‘Health Hero’ Challenge

Every community needs healthy role models, and we’re excited to share that one CHOP faculty member has made the semifinals as the city of Philadelphia’s 2017 official “Health Hero.” Be Well Philly, the health and wellness news section of Philadelphia Magazine, recently announced their top 10 nominees for this year’s “Health Hero,” an individual who actively helps their communities live “healthier and happier.”

Out of hundreds of nominations, the list included Senbagam Virudachalam, MD, pediatrician and PolicyLab faculty member. Dr. Virudachalam is a passionate advocate for helping kids develop smarter eating habits. She currently leads the Home Plate study at CHOP, which aims to teach parents the necessary skills to cook healthy food at home in order to prevent child obesity amongst low-income families. The three-year study received $750,000 in funding from the Aramark Charitable Fund in 2014 and began to roll out its efforts in the spring of 2015, including weekly cooking classes, formal research, and the development of a sustainable, low-cost model of the program for communities. We previously covered Dr. Virudchalam’s inspiring community participation in other programs (such as Healthy NewsWorks) on Cornerstone and look forward to seeing what she does next!

You can read more about the Philadelphia Health Hero Challenge and vote for Dr. Virudchalam as this year’s Health Hero on Philadelphia magazine’s website.

CHOP Researchers Talk Sports Concussion Prevention and Research on Air

As we prep for back to school and sports team tryouts begin, our clinicians and researchers want to make sure parents, children, and teens know the basics about preventing and detecting a sports-related concussion. This week, two CHOP sports medicine experts dropped by the WMMR studio to share their thoughts, tips, and the latest research about sports-induced head injuries. In a podcast for the station, Christina Master, MD, sports medicine pediatrician, and Roni Robinson, MSN, nurse practitioner in the division of Orthopedics & Sports Medicine at CHOP, covered everything from the signs parents and teachers should look out for, the protocol for diagnosing and treating a concussion, as well as discussions about the latest studies in sports injury research.

Dr. Master is currently involved in a number of concussion research investigations, including a Penn collaboration that received $4.5 million in funding from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The five-year study will conduct both human and animal studies in order to develop new assessment tools using objective metrics for diagnosing and treating youth concussions. Dr. Master also helped to develop CHOP’s evidence-based initiative, Concussion Care for Kids: Minds Matter, a program intended to educate and help parents, coaches, healthcare providers, and school staff about recognizing and recovering from a concussion.

You can listen to the podcast and learn more about concussion research at CHOP on the WMMR website.

Do Coping Interventions for Parents and Hospitalized Children Improve Outcomes?

Whether it’s for one week or one month, it can be difficult for parents to cope when their child is admitted to the hospital. In some cases, the psychological distress of anxiety or depression that parents experience can, in turn, negatively affect a child’s outcomes. In a new meta-analysis published in Pediatrics, researchers at CHOP looked at the breadth of research done on support interventions for parents whose children have been acutely hospitalized in order to describe the current state of coping support provided to parents. Stephanie K. Doupnik, MD, core faculty member in Clinical Futures, a CHOP Research Institute Center of Emphasis, led the study, which also included senior author Christopher Feudtner, MD, director of Research for the Pediatric Advanced Care Team at CHOP. The researchers combed through over 3,450 abstracts, selected 12 studies that met the criteria for systematic review, and identified 12 studies whose methods and results could be analyzed for the purpose of the meta-analysis. Based on these studies, the authors concluded that support interventions can indeed help alleviate a parent’s psychological distress, but more research must be done to see if those same interventions benefit the outcomes of children.

Read more in the study abstract.

Madeline Bell Named One of Modern Healthcare’s ‘100 Most Influential’

Modern Healthcare, a leading news outlet for healthcare business, policy, and research news, recently announced their “100 Most Influential People in Healthcare” for 2017 – a list that, out of among 6,800 nominated executives, academics, and thought leaders, includes Madeline Bell, president and CEO of CHOP. According to the publication’s website, the 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare recognition program honors individuals “deemed by their peers and the senior editors of Modern Healthcare to be the most influential individuals in the industry.” The organization selected its finalists with the input of more than 74,000 readers of Modern Healthcare. Bell, who is listed among government leaders and the largest health systems in America, has been an active and influential force in the healthcare industry, acting as Chair of the Children’s Hospital Association’s Board of Trustees and protecting children’s hospitals from harmful Medicaid cuts. She also oversees the execution of CHOP strategy in order to drive better treatment, care, and outcomes for our patients.

Learn more about the exciting honor on Modern Healthcare’s website.


Recently on Cornerstone, we met our very first Research Hero, 6-year old Brynn Connor, who has participated in a number of Rett studies at CHOP. We also took a snapshot of exciting new mobile health research that tests a smartphone app allowing parents to send in pictures of their child’s skin condition for a quick diagnosis.  And a new study by Douglas Wallace, PhD, director of the Center for Mitochondrial and Epigenomic Medicine at CHOP, traces differences in mitochondrial function that reveal the origins of autism spectrum disorders.

Catch up on our headlines from our August 11 edition of In the News:

  • Toyota Teams Up with CHOP for Child Safety
  • CHOP Ranked Among Healthcare’s ‘Most Wired’ Organizations
  • New Study Examines Breastfeeding Experiences in the N/IICU
  • Dr. Jeffrey Gerber Weighs in On Pediatrics Ear Infection Findings
  • Dr. Brian Jenssen Blogs About Youth E-Cigarette Use

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