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Press Releases

Media Coverage

Press Releases 


VM drug  March 14, 2014

TaiRx, Inc. Contracts with Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago to Test Novel Anti-cancer Drug  

Taipei, Taiwan: Chicago, Illinois - TaiRx, Inc. and researchers at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Research Center have announced a contractual arrangement for the assessment of molecular mechanisms underlying TRX-818 suppression of tumor cell vasculogenic mimicry. Specifically, TRX-818 will be evaluated for its ability to target key signaling pathways involved in the de novo formation of tumor cell-derived vascular networks (which ultimately facilitate tumor growth and metastasis). These data will provide critical foundational observations necessary for the preparation of a regulatory submission to the FDA.

TaiRx, Inc., established in 2011, is a privately-held company focused on developing novel drug products for patients with difficult to treat diseases such as cancer and sepsis. The TaiRx team has extensive experience and knowledge in new drug development and is specialized in the rapid development of unique drug candidates into phase II proof-of-concept clinical study or new drug application stage, which significantly increases the product value. TaiRx has successfully developed 60 key prescription pharmaceutical products launched globally including 17 blockbuster drugs.

(Above, left) Aggressive tumor cells form vascular-like networks (called vasculogenic mimicry) when cultured on three-dimensional matrices and the networks are similar to what is seen in some patient tumors.

(Right) Aggressive tumor cells treated with a newly discovered vascular disrupting drug cannot form vascular-like networks when cultured on three-dimensional matrices.

Candidate drug provides substantial benefit in SMA animal models

Christine DiDonato, PhD  
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a devastating hereditary disease that is a leading cause of infant and early childhood mortality. There is currently no cure for the disease. The laboratory of Christine DiDonato, PhD has been testing a promising drug called RG3039 in SMA animal models with disease phenotypes ranging from mild to severe. The laboratory reported this year on their pharmacological characterization of the drug, demonstrating that RG3039 can extend survival and improve function in two SMA animal models. They have determined the minimum effective dose and drug action, thus contributing to dose selection and exposure estimates for the first studies with RG3039 in humans. As in cellular assays, they have shown that drug treatment leads to improvement in gem numbers in motor neurons, in addition to improved functional outcomes, including treadmill walking and gait dynamics. 

Read the full press release
PNAS2008_Hendrix Figure from: Postovit LM, Margaryan NV, Seftor EA, Kirschmann DA, Lipavsky A, Wheaton WW,  Abbott DE, Seftor RE, Hendrix MJC. Human embryonic stem cell microenvironment suppresses  the tumorigenic phenotype of aggressive cancer cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Mar 18; 105 (11):4329-34. Copyright (2008) National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A.
Exclusive licensing agreement

An exclusive licensing agreement between StableBody Technologies, LLC and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago to develop new cancer therapies and diagnostic predictors based on scientific discoveries in the laboratory of Mary J.C. Hendrix, PhD at the research center was recently announced. The terms of the license include $1.5 million in research laboratory support over 3.5 years, up front licensing fees, and 1.5 percent royalties to Lurie Children’s when the newly developed cancer therapies, diagnostic and other products are commercially available. During a time of financial constraint, Lurie Children’s continued to invest in the promise of basic and translational research for tomorrow’s cures. This is a proud time for all of us who believe in the mission of Lurie Children’s. Peter Bensinger, Jr. devoted significant time and expertise to advising our negotiating team, in addition to Scott Silverman, DPhil (both members of Children’s Research Fund and the research center board) and Philip Spina, CRA, which resulted in this licensing agreement.
Schematic representation of standard bladder augmentation procedure
 (top panel) along with the alternative urinary bladder tissue patch
procedure (bottom panel). DOI (10.1073/pnas.1220764110).
Image courtesy of PNAS.
Study demonstrates potential for bladder regeneration

Spina bifida (SB) is the most common disabling birth defect in the United States. Patients with SB typically possess a neurogenic bladder and exhibit varying degrees of bladder dysfunction. Although surgical intervention is the current end-stage standard of care in which to treat the neurogenic bladder, it is associated with many complications. Contemporary bladder tissue engineering strategies lack the ability to reform bladder smooth muscle, vasculature, and promote peripheral nerve tissue growth when utilizing populations of cells from the patient.

In a publication in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), Arun Sharma, PhD, Earl Cheng, MD and colleagues demonstrate the role of two specific populations of bone marrow (BM) stem/progenitor cells used in combination with a synthetic elastomeric scaffold that provides a novel and alternative means to current bladder regeneration approaches.

“The utility of autologous sources of bone marrow stem/progenitor cells in a bladder regenerative setting provides a novel and alternative means to combat the current issues that affect bladder tissue engineering strategies,” explains Sharma, the senior and corresponding author of the publication. “This proof of concept study further demonstrates that specific populations of bone marrow cells can enhance bladder regeneration for a wide range of patients in need of bladder replacement measures. These groups could potentially include those suffering from bladder cancer or trauma as well as other debilitating bladder diseases.”

Read the full press release.  


Scientific Reports 2012 figure  

A hypothetical working model depicting FRα as a transcription factor.
FRα, a GPI-anchored protein, gets internalized in a caveolar
structured early endosomes, which undergo acidification and
subsequent fusion with lysosomes. GPI-specific phospholipase D
cleaves FRα from its GPI-anchor. FRα is released and translocates
to the nucleus via an unknown mechanism(s) where it binds
cis-regulatory elements of different gene promoters.


Protein critical for embryonic development gets a new role

December 14, 2012 - Folic acid (FA) has traditionally been associated with prevention of neural tube defects; adequate amounts of FA in women before and during pregnancy are essential for the prevention of major birth defects. More recent work suggests that FA may also be involved in the prevention of adult onset diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, neuropsychiatric disorders, cardiovascular diseases and cerebral ischemia. Research spearheaded by Kyu-Won Shim and initiated by Vanda Boshnjaku from the Pediatric Neurosurgery Laboratory at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Research Center highlights a novel role of folate receptor alpha (FRα) as a transcription factor (a protein that functions as a molecular switch, turning genes on or off). As the role of FA in human health and disease expands, it becomes increasingly critical to understand the mechanisms behind FA action.

Read the full press release.


Biomarker for malignant breast cancer shows promise for diagnosis, therapy

Breast Cancer Research 2012

Immunohistochemistry localization
of Nodal in human breast tissues.
Nodal staining was generally
intracytoplasmic (D) and occasionally
detected in the surrounding stroma
(E; red arrows).
 (Strizzi L. et al.
Potential for the embryonic morphogen
Nodal as a prognostic and predictive
biomarker in breast cancer. Breast
Cancer Research
2012, 14: R75)


May 15, 2012 - Early diagnosis of breast cancer is crucial to the long-term survival of patients. One tool upon which clinicians increasingly rely is the use of molecular markers to identify malignancies. However, breast cancer is heterogeneous, which means that established biomarkers are useful only for certain types and stages of disease. This leaves room for new discoveries.

A collaborative study involving investigators from Mayo Clinic and Children’s Memorial Research Center, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, led by Mary J.C. Hendrix, PhD and Edith Perez, MD, investigates the clinical significance of Nodal expression in breast cancer. Nodal, a gene that is essential for cellular and structural organization in early development reappears in certain types of aggressive cancers. In the current study, the authors determined the immunohistochemical level of Nodal in breast tissues. The data reveal that Nodal expression is significantly higher in malignant versus benign breast disease; moreover, the degree of Nodal staining correlates with poorly differentiated, advanced stage and lymph node positive breast cancer. The researchers then treated two human breast cancer cell lines with a Nodal blocking antibody, which significantly reduced proliferation and colony-forming ability.

The article, published in BioMed Central’s open access journal Breast Cancer Research, was the subject of a commentary and selected as an “Editor’s pick” in the journal.

Read the full press release.


Identifying biomarkers to avoid the burden of invasive procedures

April 16, 2012 - Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is a chronic inflammatory disorder in children and adults that causes injury to the esophagus. At the present time, the only way to make the diagnosis and follow the response to therapies is by repeated endoscopies of the upper GI tract to obtain tissue biopsies for examination under the microscope. This creates a heavy burden on patients and families. The procedure is invasive and has inherent risks. It is also expensive, causes missed school days, and forced time off from work for the parents.

Currently, there is no highly sensitive and specific non-invasive blood test available to monitor the disease.

Gastroenterologists Barry Wershil of Children’s Memorial Hospital and Children’s Memorial Research Center and Amir Kagalwalla of Children’s Memorial Hospital have joined forces with molecular biologist Steven Ackerman of the University of Illinois at Chicago to investigate a panel of non-invasive biomarkers in the blood and/or urine of subjects with EoE that may ultimately be used for the diagnosis and assessment of remission, and recurrence or exacerbation of disease. This research is being funded through the HOPE grant from the American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders (APFED).

Read the full press release.

Hendrix AACR award 2012 AACR honors Mary J. C. Hendrix, PhD

March 23, 2012 - The AACR will honor Mary J. C. Hendrix, PhD, president and scientific director of Children’s Memorial Research Center at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, with the sixth annual Princess Takamatsu Memorial Lectureship at the AACR Annual Meeting 2012, held here March 31 – April 4.

Read the full press release.

Left: Philip Hanawalt (at right) and Susumu Nishimura present the Princess Takamatsu Memorial Award and Lectureship to Mary J. C. Hendrix, PhD. © 2012 AACR/Todd Buchanan.

Karen Sheehan   Jenifer Cartland 
Karen Sheehan, MD, MPH (left) and
Jenifer Cartland, PhD
Children’s Memorial spearheads effort to create a public health approach to youth violence

February 1, 2012 - Children’s Memorial recently unveiled an antiviolence movement called Strengthening Chicago’s Youth (SCY), a group of stakeholders that will be taking a public health approach to violence prevention. SCY is modeled on the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC) which supports, coordinates and unites partners to promote policy and environmental change. “Children are exposed to violence in their communities, schools and homes, and the effects of exposure to violence can last throughout a lifetime,” said Karen Sheehan, MD, MPH, medical director of Children’s Memorial’s Injury Prevention and Research Center, interim co-director of the Mary Ann & J. Milburn Smith Child Health Research Program of the research center, and professor of Pediatrics and Preventive Medicine at the Feinberg School. “Children’s Memorial has the resources and the expertise to convene the many organizations that are working together to curb violence and to create a comprehensive violence prevention initiative.” Sheehan leads SCY with Jenifer Cartland, PhD, research associate professor of Pediatrics and Preventive Medicine at the Feinberg School and director of the Child Health Data Lab at the research center.

SCY’s work will entail taking a public health approach by adopting consistent messaging and will use evidence based strategies to prevent violence and to foster multisector collaboration. CLOCC, which is housed at Children’s Memorial, has attracted national attention and has quickly developed into one of the country’s largest grassroots approaches to childhood obesity prevention. SCY will be building off that successful model, encouraged by the more than 130 people who attended its kickoff meeting. “If we want Chicago to be the healthiest city in the nation for children then we need to build a community where families and children feel safe,” said Sheehan. “We are grateful to all those who are interested in being a part of SCY.”

 “Life Skills” intervention may reduce HIV risk behaviors in a marginalized population

Robert Garofalo    
January 10, 2012 - Young transgender women are at increased risk for HIV infection due to factors related to stigma/marginalization and participation in risky sexual behaviors. To date, no HIV prevention interventions have been developed or proven successful with this population. To address the gap, Robert Garofalo, MD, MPH and colleagues developed a behavioral intervention targeting the unique mechanisms of HIV risk among an ethnically diverse sample of young transgender women aged 16–24 years. The Life Skills intervention curriculum included information on sexual health, HIV 101, safer sex techniques, healthy communication, partner negotiation, and how to identify and access community services. 

Read the full press release.




Earliest steps in stem cell differentiation revealed

September 8, 2011 - Regenerative medicine using stem cells is a fast growing field of research. Its applications to patient care are widespread, from repairing the body after injury, to re-growing fingertips, to fixing a failing heart. However, this emerging discipline suffers from a lack of understanding by researchers as to the basic mechanisms driving stem cell differentiation. Without this understanding, scientists are as yet unable to control the differentiation process, and thus have limited abilities to develop effective and consistent therapeutic applications.

In a new study published online in the journal Stem Cells and Development, a team of researchers looked at the earliest steps involved in human embryonic stem cell (hESC) development, from undifferentiated stem cells to epithelial cells. They sought to ascertain which molecular and cellular markers are involved in this transitional phase, using cells grown in culture.

Read the full press release.



Hardy CR 2010 figure Study suggests another embryonic link to cancer

December 15, 2010 - Metastatic melanoma is a highly aggressive skin cancer associated with poor clinical outcome. One key feature is the expression of a cellular type resembling embryonic stem cells in its molecular profile. Both stem cells and aggressive melanoma cells participate in bidirectional communication with the microenvironment, which can profoundly influence cell behavior.

During early vertebrate development, the expression of Nodal, an embryonic substance that governs the pattern and position of tissue development, is specifically regulated by a Notch signaling pathway, a receptor protein involved in many instances of choice of cell fate in animal development. Cancer cells can exploit normally dormant embryonic pathways to promote tumor development. The reactivation of Nodal in metastatic melanoma has previously been shown to regulate the aggressive behavior of these tumor cells.

In a study published in the December 15 issue of Cancer Research, the laboratory of Mary J.C. Hendrix hypothesized that cross-talk between the Notch and Nodal pathways can explain the reactivation of Nodal in aggressive metastatic melanoma cells. Here they demonstrate a molecular link between Notch and Nodal signaling in aggressive melanoma, via the activity of a Nodal enhancer element. They show a precise correlation between Notch4 and Nodal expression in multiple aggressive cell lines, but not poorly aggressive cell lines. 

Read the full press release.


Arun Sharma (left) and Earl Cheng
(photo: Andrew Campbell) 


New Study into Bladder Regeneration Heralds Organ Replacement Treatment

November 22, 2010

Researchers in the United States have developed a medical model for regenerating bladders using stem cells harvested from a patient’s own bone marrow. The research, published online in Stem Cells, is especially relevant for paediatric patients suffering from abnormally developed bladders, but also represents another step towards new organ replacement therapies.

The research, led by Arun Sharma, PhD and Earl Cheng, MD from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Children’s Memorial Research Center, focused on bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) taken from the patient. Previously studies into the regenerative capacity of cells in bladders have focused on animal models, but these have translated poorly in clinical settings.

“Advances in the use of bone marrow stem cells taken from the patient opens up new opportunities for exploring organ replacement therapies, especially for bladder regeneration”, said senior author Sharma. “Several findings from our study have demonstrated the plasticity of stem cells derived from bone marrow which make them ideal for this type of work.” 

 Read the full press release.

Read the December 13, 2010 HealthLeaders Media story.


hESC hiPSC cartoon

Comparison of expression profiles between hESC
hiPSC lines. 
Image courtesy of Vasil Galat, PhD.

June 18, 2010 -- EurekAlert! ESC & iPSC News Top Story

Therapeutic potential of embryonic stem cells

Are stem cells ready for prime time?

The therapeutic potential of embryonic stem cells has been an intense focus of study and discussion in biomedical research and has resulted in technologies to produce human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs). Derived by epigenetic reprogramming of human fibroblasts, these hiPSCs are thought to be almost identical to human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and provide great promise for patient-tailored regenerative medicine therapies. However, recent studies have suggested noteworthy differences between these two stem cell types which require additional comparative analyses.

Scientists at the research center and the Feinberg School investigated the expression of key members of the Nodal embryonic signaling pathway, critical to maintaining pluripotency, in hiPSC and hESC cell lines. Nodal is an important morphogen – a soluble molecule that can regulate cell fate – in embryological systems that requires tight regulatory control of its biological function.

Read the full press release.


Peter F. Whitington

Whitington receives the 2010 CLF/CASL Sass‐Kortsak Award

Chicago, Illinois, December 14, 2009 — Peter F. Whitington, MD has been named the recipient of the 2010 Canadian Liver Foundation (CLF)/Canadian Association for the Study of the Liver (CASL) Sass‐Kortsak Award for sustained excellence in pediatric liver‐related research. The award will be presented at the 2010 Canadian Digestive Diseases Week (CDDW) in Toronto, Ontario on February 28. Whitington is director of the Siragusa Transplantation Center at Children’s Memorial; Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at the Feinberg School; and the Sally Burnett Searle Professor of Pediatrics and Transplantation.

Read the full press release.



Christopher Ott and Ann Harris

Hidden signals in a well-studied gene

Chicago, Illinois, November 9, 2009 — For the past 20 years, regulatory mechanisms controlling a large gene that is mutated in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients have eluded scientists. CF is a severe genetic disease that results in lung damage and nutritional deficiencies. Although treatments for CF patients have improved, therapeutics that target the underlying cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) defect could make a major difference to the health and longevity of these individuals.

In a study published online on November 6, 2009 (doi:10.1073/pnas.0908755106) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS)the laboratory of Ann Harris, PhD has found that the CFTR gene adopts a very specific three-dimensional conformation in cells that express the gene and thus are affected by the disease.

Read the full press release.

 Amira ad Image from Topczewski laboratory featured by Visage Imaging

An image created by postdoctoral fellow Rodney Dale, PhD and researcher Jacek Topczewski, PhD is being featured by Visage Imaging, Inc®. This is a confocal microscopy image highlighting the nucleus and cells of an embryonic zebrafish cartilage element. The image was rendered with Amira visualization software by Visage Imaging. At its 2009 annual meeting in Chicago, the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) distributed copies of its publication, the Journal of Neuroscience, and the image was included. The SfN meeting typically draws approximately 30,000 attendees. Jacek Topczewski, PhD and Rodney Dale, PhD are members of the Developmental Biology Program of the research center. Topczewski is Assistant professor of Pediatrics at the Feinberg School. To learn more about the Topczewski laboratory, please visit:
Jhumku Kohtz

Control of development and disease from an unlikely source

Chicago, Illinois, August 17, 2009 — Can mental disorders result from altered non-coding RNA-dependent gene regulation during embryonic development? This is a question posed by Jhumku Kohtz, PhD, of the research center. Kohtz, along with her laboratory and colleagues at the Feinberg School, has published research in the August 2009 issue of Nature Neuroscience that finds for the first time that a non-coding RNA (ncRNA) called Evf2 is important for gene regulation and the development of interneurons that produce GABA, the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. The absence or reduction of GABA is implicated in different psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, Tourette’s syndrome, epilepsy, and Rett syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder.

Read the full press release.

Vasil Galat

Uncovering stem cell biology

Chicago, Illinois, July 30, 2009 — Vasil Galat, PhD, HCLD, with Philip M. Iannaccone, MD, PhD of the research center and Bert Binas of Texas A&M University have been studying extraembryonic endoderm precursor (XEN-P) cells, a type of stem cell that displays a unique molecular signature sharing some of the characteristics of embryonic stem cells, trophoblast stem cells and extraembryonic endoderm stem cells. In a paper published online in the May 2009 issue of Stem Cells and Development, they demonstrate that these cells integrate not only into the visceral and parietal extraembryonic endoderm lineages as observed before, but also into the inner cell mass (ICM), the primitive endoderm, and the polar and mural trophectoderm of cultured embryos.

Read the full press release.

A genetic basis for schizophrenia 

Chicago, Illinois, July 8, 2009 — Schizophrenia is a severely debilitating psychiatric disease that is thought to have its roots in the development of the nervous system; however, major breakthroughs linking its genetics to diagnosis, prognosis and treatment are still unrealized. Jill A. Morris, PhD studies a gene that is involved in susceptibility to schizophrenia, Disc1 (Disrupted-In-Schizophrenia 1). Two recent publications by Morris and colleagues focus on the role of Disc1 in development, particularly the migration of cells to their proper location in the brain and subsequent differentiation into their intended fate.

The first paper, published in the July 2009 online issue of the journal Development followed the role of Disc1 in cranial neural crest (CNC) cells, which are multi-potent cells that give rise to multiple cell types including craniofacial cartilage and the peripheral nervous system during development. The second paper, published in the June 2009 online issue of Human Molecular Genetics studied the hippocampus, a brain area that is involved in learning and memory, and is also associated with the pathology of schizophrenia.

Read the full press release.

Bento Soares

Research center becomes a member of GeneGo's Metaminer Stem Cell Partnership Program

St. Joseph, Michigan, April 14, 2009 — GeneGo, Inc., the leading systems biology tools company, announced today that Marcelo Bento Soares, PhD of the research center has joined the MetaMiner Stem Cell Partnership Program. The goal of the program is to develop a series of blue print pathway maps for adult, embryonic, fetal, fibroblasts, hematopoietic, mesenchymal, multipotent, neoplastic, pluripotent and totipotent stem cells.

Read the full press release.

William Tse

Researchers at Children’s Memorial Hospital propose a new model of stem cell memory and plasticity

Chicago, Illinois, March 23, 2009 — How does a human cell remember its past and decide its future? This is a six million dollar question that biomedical researchers have long sought to answer in their attempts to control cell fate and develop better cellular therapy. Working with human bone marrow stem cells that can turn into bone or muscle, researchers at Children's Memorial Research Center, led by William T. Tse, MD, PhD, have recently demonstrated how these cells juggle decision-making processes that determine their fate. They showed that these stem cells respond to environmental stimulation by producing bone- or muscle-forming factors. The research was published in the April 2009 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Read the full press release.



Karen Gouze

 Integrative module-based family therapy: Combining the "art" and "science" of family therapy

Chicago, Illinois, November 12, 2008 — The field of marriage and family therapy is currently at a crossroads. The challenge for contemporary therapists is how to incorporate the wisdom of previous models of family assessment and treatment for child and adolescent emotional and behavior disorders with the accountability that comes from evidence-based practice. The integrative, module-based family treatment model (IMBFT) provides a formalized series of steps that clinicians can use in their case planning and implementation. It is based on nine clinically relevant modules for assessment and intervention that are consistent with current best practices and empirically supported treatments.

Developed by Karen R. Gouze, PhD, and Richard Wendel, DMin, IMBFT guides therapists through a number of layers of analyses, or modules, in considering assessment issues relevant to child, adolescent, adult, and family functioning. This process allows therapists to access and integrate evidence-based methods within a comprehensive treatment plan that is sensitive to both the art of clinical judgment and the developing science of family therapy.

Read the full press release.

 Joon Won Yoon and David Walterhouse

Defining a developmental pathway for medulloblastoma

Chicago, Illinois, October 7, 2008 —Medulloblastoma, a rapidly growing tumor of the cerebellum, accounts for almost 1 in 5 of all childhood brain tumors1. Younger children have poor outcomes, while those who survive are at risk for long-term neurological effects. Understanding of the underlying mechanisms of medulloblastoma is necessary in order to develop better therapies for this devastating disease2. Previous research has shown that the GLI1 oncogene, part of the Sonic hedgehog (Shh) pathway, is overactive in a subset of medulloblastomas. In a publication in the International Journal of Cancer, Joon Won Yoon, PhD, David Walterhouse, MD, and colleagues studied changes in gene expression profiles in experimental cells transformed by GLI1. They compared the genes they identified to those found in the medulloblastomas with activation of the Shh pathway. Of the 25 resulting genes, several hold possibilities for further study. One of these is CXCR4, which plays a role in cerebellar development and whose expression may re-initiate developmental programs that contribute to medulloblastoma. Another is p53, a tumor suppressor. The group identified a mutation in the p53 gene in their experimental cells, suggesting that inactivation of p53 may shift the balance toward cell survival and proliferation in this subset of medulloblastomas.

Read the full press release.

Robert Garofalo

Family-based HIV prevention study of young men who have sex with men

CHICAGO, Illinois, July 7, 2008 — Is it time for HIV prevention programs for young men who have sex with men to involve families and parents – similar to approaches used for other adolescent/young adult populations? This is the question asked by a team of investigators at Children's Memorial Hospital, Howard Brown Health Center and the University of Illinois at Chicago. HIV surveillance data suggest that in the U.S., the majority of HIV-infected adolescent males and young adult men are infected through having sex with other men. However, there are few intervention efforts targeting this vulnerable population, and no family-based approaches, despite the fact that these approaches have shown promise with other groups of young people. Rob Garofalo, MD, MPH, is lead author on the study.  It was published in the July 2008 issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Read the full press release.

John Lavigne

Therapies for oppositional defiant disorder depend on family characteristics

Chicago, Illinois, May 22, 2008 — Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is the most common psychiatric disorder among preschool children, and sometimes leads to conduct disorder. Relatively few preschool children with ODD are treated in the mental health service system, and the need to extend treatment services to other settings is increasingly being recognized.

In two studies published in the June 2008 issue of Journal of Pediatric Psychology, John V. Lavigne, PhD and colleagues tested two types of therapies for ODD: minimal intervention bibliotherapy treatment (MIT), or a 12-session parenting program led by a nurse or psychologist. The team found that MIT was as successful as therapist-led treatment unless parents attend a significant number of sessions. Treatment success depends on degree of pre-treatment dysfunction, gender of the child and other factors.

Read the full press release.


Media Coverage



Helen Binns, MD,
MPH, director of the
Lurie Children's
Wellness & Weight
Management Program
Lurie Children’s Wellness & Weight Management Program joins national registry for pediatric obesity care  

Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago's Center on Obesity Management and Prevention (COMP) is excited to announce a newly established collaboration between the Lurie Children’s Wellness & Weight Management Program, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and over 20 pediatric obesity treatment sites across the U.S. This group is developing a two-year prospective registry called the Pediatric Obesity Weight Evaluation Registry (POWER). This is a registry of pediatric patients presenting for weight management at comprehensive pediatric weight management programs that serve overweight and obese youth. Registry data will provide information on weight management strategies and outcomes of comprehensive pediatric weight management programs. This endeavor will help to identify best practices and advance pediatric obesity care nationwide. Funding for participation in POWER was provided by the Mary Ann & J. Milburn Smith Child Health Research Program and the research institute. For more information about POWER, download this PDF document.


Peter F. WhitingtonPeter Whitington featured on WTTW Chicago Tonight  

Peter Whitington, MD, co-director of the Siragusa Transplantation Center at Lurie Children’s, and Sally Burnett Searle Professor of Pediatrics and Transplantation, joined the chief of the Surgery- Organ Transplantation Division at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Michael Abecassis, MD, MBA and Jose Oberholzer, MD, chief of the Transplant Division at the University of Illinois at Chicago to discuss the past, present and future of organ transplantation, and the next big step – using stem cells and 3-D printing to create organs for transplant. 


Cynthia LaBella 2014Cynthia LaBella, MD, medical director of the Institute for Sports Medicine at Lurie Children’s has launched an exciting new study entitled “The effects of serial sports Training Risk Assessment and Counseling in Kids (T.R.A.C.K.).”

Pediatricians say training can help teens avoid knee injuries
by Katherine Hobson
Adapted from NPR (April 28, 2014)

If you’re a teenage athlete, or the parent of one, you probably live in fear of a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), one of the knee’s key stabilizing ligaments. A torn ACL often requires surgical repair. But so-called neuromuscular training programs can cut the risk of a serious ACL injury and should be recommended to at-risk young athletes, especially girls, according to a clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

ACL injuries, which can sideline an athlete for months, hit both genders, but right after puberty they occur as much as six times more frequently in young women, depending on the sport. The theory is that during the growth spurt that is part of puberty, a burst of testosterone helps boys get bigger muscles to go along with their new larger frames, says Cynthia LaBella, MD, lead author of the report. “Girls don’t get that burst” or the resulting bigger muscles, she says, which makes it harder to control their new, taller bodies. But their muscles can be trained.

A host of different approaches used in the preseason, active season or both, have been studied for their ability to prevent injuries in sports including soccer, basketball and volleyball. The report cites a 2013 analysis of existing research that found a 72 percent lower risk of an ACL injury in female athletes aged 18 and younger who used the programs.

The authors of the AAP report say the successful routines included plyometric training – progressively more difficult jumping exercises – instruction on proper technique and feedback on using the right form. Programs that included strength training were among the most effective, though some of the successful routines didn’t include strength work.

While these programs were designed specifically to prevent ACL injuries, studies show they can also stave off other lower leg injuries like ankle and knee sprains, says LaBella. She hopes this report will encourage coaches and parents to seek out the programs. “We still see people who are unaware of them, or who are unwilling to change their usual routine,” she says.


Senator Richard Durbin and the American Cures Act  

Several members of the research institute attended the press conference of Assistant Senate Majority Leader Richard Durbin at the University of Illinois College of Medicine on March 24 where he discussed his recently introduced legislation, the American Cures Act (S.2115), which proposes a new funding model to supplement appropriated medical research funding. Under this legislation, a mandatory trust fund built on annual appropriations would be created for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Defense Health Program, and the Veterans Medical and Prosthetics Research Program. The fund would only be triggered if annual appropriations meet specified levels, in order to ensure federal support of medical research at levels more closely aligned with the importance of medical progress in the U.S.

Lurie Children’s Gender & Sex Development Program featured on National France 2 TV
Watch the YouTube video. 

Neonatal chest simulation modelSurgical Simulation Lab highlighted in Crain’s and on WGN-TV  

Katherine Barsness, MD is featured with Tim Lautz, MD and Eric Grossman, MD as they simulate complicated surgical procedures at Northwestern University’s simulation lab. Highlights include the making of tiny molds from a 3-D printer.

See the Crain’s story.  See the WGN story.


Shulman writes book on the 130 year history of Children’s Memorial Hospital of Chicago

Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago News & Events (January 14, 2014)

Stanford T. Shulman, MD, head of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Lurie Children’s and Virginia H. Rogers Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, signed copies of his newly released book, Children’s Memorial Hospital of Chicago, chronicling the hospital’s 130 year history. Read more.



CAMP video    
A Week at a Special CAMP

This video, produced and directed by Aaron Cahan, follows the story of 10 year old Emily, a patient with Congenital Central Hypoventilation Syndrome (CCHS), a genetic disorder that keeps her body from automatically regulating functions that are normal in others - such as breathing and temperature control. Emily and other children with CCHS visit the Center for Autonomic Medicine in Pediatrics (CAMP) at Lurie Children’s once a year to be evaluated for functions controlled by the autonomic nervous system.


Ben Katz

Factors that may lead to chronic fatigue syndrome  

Ben Katz, MD is co-investigator on two recently awarded NIH grants to study biological and/or psychological factors present in adolescents who will go on to develop chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) following infectious mononucleosis (IM). “Identification of risk factors predisposing patients towards developing CFS may help us figure out the underlying mechanisms of this illness and allow for early intervention and prevention,” says Katz.

Along with psychologists at DePaul University and the University of Illinois at Chicago, Katz has been studying CFS since the 1990s. In one project, they followed adolescents who developed IM: 12 percent of those who had IM had CFS at six months, 7 percent at one year, and 4 percent at two years. They were curious as to why some individuals do not recover from IM.

There are two likely possibilities:

These individuals may have a psychological predisposition to non-recovery – e.g., people who don’t cope well may do worse recovering.

People who are sicker and have worse mono to start with have a harder time recovering. 

Data to support both positions exist. Katz and colleagues previously found that two months after IM, given a questionnaire regarding autonomic symptoms, those who scored high were more likely to go on to develop CFS.

Katz believes that the only way to solve this puzzle is to study subjects before they get sick. College students tend to get IM. If his group enrolls healthy freshmen, some should develop IM over three years; some of those won’t recover completely, and will develop CFS. The researchers will then compare pre-illness questionnaires and blood testing as well as the severity of mono to determine which of these leads to the development of CFS.

Seth Corey 2

Platelet production affected by key protein  

by Roger Anderson courtesy of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine (Oct 23, 2013)

Northwestern Medicine® scientists have uncovered a critical protein in the formation of normal platelets, a finding that could someday help turn large-scale production of the blood product into a reality. “What we found is a novel mechanism for how platelet precursors are generated,” said principal investigator Seth Corey, MD, MPH, Professor of Pediatrics-Hematology, Oncology, and Stem Cell Transplantation and Cell & Molecular Biology, and Sharon B. Murphy, MD, and Steven T. Rosen, MD, Professor of Cancer Biology and Chemotherapy. “The loss of CIP4, a protein that bridges the barrier of these cells with their skeleton-like infrastructure, causes a defect in platelet production.” The discovery was recently published in the journal Blood. Read more.

Hande Ozdinler

Feinberg ALS efforts get funding boost  

by Roger Anderson courtesy of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine (Oct 30, 2013)

With more than $2.5 million in new grants, P. Hande Ozdinler, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Ken & Ruth Davee Department of Neurology, is continuing to investigate the development of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The awards, two from NIH and one from the ALS Association (ALSA), will fund projects investigating the molecular mechanisms behind the disease, further studying a gene crucial to the lab’s most recent discovery, and creating new mouse models.

“As we learn more about the genetics of ALS, we have come to realize that there are multiple genes involved,” said Ozdinler, a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. “With that as our starting point, one of our goals is to identify the pathways these genes affect.” Read more.

Nikia Laurie 2013

Scientists uncover new treatment target for pediatric eye cancer  

by Roger Anderson courtesy of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine (Nov 22, 2013)

The discovery of a novel molecular pathway in retinoblastoma, the most common pediatric eye cancer, holds the potential for new treatment targets. Considered rare and treatable in the United States, in parts of Africa and Asia late detection has led to mortality rates as high as 70 percent. What Nikia Laurie, PhD uncovered is that increased levels of microRNA (miRNA) 449a and 449b lead to both a decrease in cancer cell growth and an acceleration of cancer cell death. “Any time you see a change like that, it indicates the particular pathway may be an ideal therapeutic target,” said Laurie. Laurie is Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Feinberg School, a member of the Lurie Cancer Center and the Cancer Biology and Epigenomics Program of the research center, and the Warren and Eloise Batts Research Scholar. Read more.


Monitoring temperature in lab settings  

by Tony Rankin (Dec 12, 2013)

In a Web Exclusive article for Today’s Facility Manager, Tony Rankin explains the importance of using an automated temperature monitoring system for ultracold freezers that store critical research samples. This type of system allows researchers and their lab groups to receive freezer temperature alerts via email and cell phone. Rankin has found this monitoring system to be reliable and effective, allowing early notification that can make the difference between saving or losing critical research samples. Rankin is facility manager for the research center. 


Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH

Economic impact of childhood food allergies  

adapted from EurekAlert! (September 16, 2013) by Julie Pesch

The overall cost of childhood food allergies was estimated at nearly $25 billion annually in a study of caregivers that quantified medical, out-of-pocket,
lost work productivity and other expenses, according to a report published by JAMA Pediatrics. Food allergy is a growing public health issue in the United States that affects about eight percent of children. The condition results in significant medical costs to the health care system but also inflicts substantial costs on families. Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, of Lurie Children’s and the Feinberg School, and colleagues, surveyed 1,643 caregivers of children with food allergy. Overall food allergy costs were $24.8 billion annually or $4,184 per child. Total costs included $4.3 billion in direct medical costs and $20.5 billion in annual costs to families. “In summary, childhood food allergy in the United States places a considerable economic burden on families and society. Given these findings, research to develop an effective food allergy treatment and cure is critically needed,” the study, which was supported by Food Allergy Research & Education, concludes.


Parenting a transgender child  

WILL - Illinois Public Media (October 11, 2013)

Raising kids is already a challenge, so what do you do when your kids express that they are uncomfortable in their own skin? When Sara and Micah’s oldest daughter Naima showed resistance to wearing dresses and playing typical “girl” games, they thought she was a tomboy who someday could be a lesbian. Then one day Naima told Sara she shouldn’t keep correcting people when they confused Naima for a boy. It’s been about a year now since Naima became Daniel, with full support from his school, friends and parents. But as he grows older, there are lots of unanswered questions. Daniel is 8, but what happens in a few years when he hits puberty?

On Focus, a radio program on WILL - Illinois Public Media, host Jim Meadows spoke with Sara and Micah about their son and about his transition from Naima to Daniel at school, at home and in the community. Psychologist Marco Hidalgo, PhD, who works with transgender youth and gender non-conforming youth at Lurie Children’s, also joined the discussion. He described what options transgender children and parents have as kids grow older and talked about some of the social obstacles transgender youth face.

Adam Becker Morning Shift

Becker appears on WBEZ’s Morning Shift (October 31, 2013)

Adam Becker, PhD, MPH, director of the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC), and co-director of the Smith Child Health Research Program of the research center, appeared on Morning Shift with Tony Sarabia to discuss a report showing that obesity rates have dropped among school kids in Chicago. The Chicago Department of Public Health released the report, which showed that over the last decade, the rates among Chicago Public School kindergarteners dropped five percentage points.



Malchenko Gene 2013  
 Publication by Soares and Hendrix labs featured on ESC & iPSC News   


ESC & iPSC News 8.33 August 21, 2013

Investigators examined the involvement of early neural markers - OTX2, PAX6, Sox1, Nestin, NR2F1, NR2F2, and IRX2 - in the onset of rosette formation, during spontaneous neural differentiation of human embryonic stem cells (hESC) and human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) colonies.

Onset of Rosette Formation During Spontaneous Neural Differentiation of hESC and hiPSC Colonies
Malchenko S, Xie J, de Fatima Bonaldo M, Vanin EF, Bhattacharyya B, Galat V, Goossens W, Seftor RE, Crispino J, Miller R, Bohn MC, Hendrix MJ, Soares MB

Gene. 2013 Aug 15. [Epub ahead of print]

Figure shows the differentiation of GFP positive RNSC (SR2R) into mature pyramidal and serotonergic neurons. 


Nanodiamonds deliver
doxorubicin to human
neuroblastoma and
glioblastoma cells.
Image courtesy of
Guifa Xi, PhD

New system uses nanodiamonds to deliver chemotherapy drugs directly to brain tumors  

Adapted from UCLA Newsroom (September 11, 2013) by Shaun Mason

Researchers have developed an innovative drug delivery system in which tiny particles called nanodiamonds are used to carry chemotherapy drugs directly into brain tumors. The method was found to result in greater cancer-killing efficiency and fewer harmful side effects than existing treatments. The research, published online in Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine, was a collaboration between Dean Ho of the UCLA School of Dentistry and the laboratory of Tadanori Tomita, MD, Division head, Neurosurgery; Director, Falk Brain Tumor Center; Yeager Professor and Chairman of Pediatric Neurosurgery; and Professor of Neurological Surgery, Feinberg School.

Glioblastoma is the most common and lethal type of brain tumor. The tumors are notoriously difficult to treat, in part because chemotherapy drugs injected alone often are unable to penetrate the blood–brain barrier. Drugs that do cross the barrier do not stay concentrated in the tumor tissue long enough to be effective. Doxorubicin has served as a model drug for the treatment of brain tumors when injected directly into the tumor. The researchers developed a strategy for strongly attaching doxorubicin molecules to nanodiamond surfaces, creating a combined substance called ND–DOX. While tumor cell proteins are able to eject most anticancer drugs before they have time to work, they can’t get rid of the nanodiamonds.

The team used a technique known as convection-enhanced delivery to inject ND–DOX directly into brain tumors in rodent models. ND–DOX levels were retained for a duration far beyond that of doxorubicin alone, and ND–DOX increased programmed cancer cell death and decreased viability in glioma cell lines. In addition, the ND–DOX delivery limited the amount of doxorubicin that was distributed outside the tumor. This reduced toxic side effects and kept more of the drug in the tumor for longer, increasing the drug’s tumor killing efficiency without affecting the surrounding tissue. Survival time increased significantly with ND–DOX, compared with unmodified doxorubicin. 

Sookyong Koh

New therapy for fever-induced seizures  

by Marla Paul  

Courtesy of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine (June 11, 2013)

Fever-induced childhood seizures, known as febrile seizures, can be terrifying for parents to witness. The full-body convulsions can last from seconds to more than 40 minutes. Currently, children are not treated with daily anticonvulsant medication because toxic side effects outweigh potential benefits.

In a study appearing in the June 12, 2013 Journal of Neuroscience, a team of researchers has identified a key factor in the generation of febrile seizures. Nimodipine, a commonly available L-type calciumchannel blocker, dramatically reduced the incidence and duration of febrile seizures in animals. “Until now, most scientists believed L-type calcium channels were not engaged in the initiation of the brain electrical activity,” said lead author Marco Martina, MD, PhD of the Feinberg School. “We show that the activation of these channels drives the electrical activity. As such, these channels may play a key role in seizure associated with high body temperature.”

Febrile seizures affect about 5 percent of children in the U.S. and carry a risk of negative long-term consequences on brain development. Since many drugs that block L-type calcium channels are FDA-approved, and drugs such as nimodipine are safe,
toddlers could be treated. Co-author Sookyong Koh, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of PediatricsNeurology at the Feinberg School and a member of the Neurobiology Program of the research center, adds that the findings could be helpful for children with genetic epilepsy syndromes whose seizures are triggered by fever, and for whom most anticonvulsants acting on sodium channels are harmful.

Funding was provided by the Epilepsy Foundation, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Lurie Children’s and the Department of Pediatrics at the Feinberg School. First author Daniel Radzicki is a graduate student in Northwestern University’s Interdepartmental Neuroscience PhD Program (NUIN).

Robert Garofalo
Robert Garofalo, MD, MPH
 Gender identity clinic opens for children

by Rex W. Huppke

Adapted from Chicago Tribune (March 24, 2013)

At about age 6, there was dissonance in Jae’s life. “I started to play with dolls and to do all these things that girls would do,” Jae said. “But people would say, ‘Why are you doing that?’ And I thought, ‘I’m just doing what I want to do.’” With the help of a supportive family, Jae soon realized the truth: Jae’s gender-identity is female, regardless of anatomy. Jae adopted the feminine pronoun “she” and is, in her heart and mind, a girl, now 12.

Jae is one of about 30 transgender or gender-nonconforming children from Chicago and across the Midwest now receiving guidance and support from a pediatric gender identity clinic launched by Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, the first of its kind in the region and one of only a few such facilities in the country.

The clinic is headed up by Robert Garofalo, MD, MPH, and works with children as young as 3, offering comprehensive care for the child and support for family members. “What’s hard for some people to wrap their head around is that this condition actually exists,” said Garofalo, Associate professor of Pediatrics and Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and director of the Center for Gender, Sexuality and HIV Prevention of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago Research Center. “Many of these families really suffer from a sense of isolation. We try to foster healthy childhood development, allowing the children some freedom to decide who they may be,” whether it’s a gender consistent with their anatomical sex or not.

Read more.
Kathryn Farrow
Kathryn Farrow, MD, PhD
Oxygen exposure linked to pulmonary hypertension in preterm babies

by Roger Anderson

Courtesy of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine (March 22, 2013)

In the smallest of humans, Kathryn Farrow, MD, PhD, Associate professor of Pediatrics, finds enormous motivation. “All it takes is for me to help that one child, get really close to that one family, and I am back in the lab with fervor,” said Farrow, who works in the Pediatric Cardiopulmonary Disease Laboratory and as a neonatologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Lurie Children’s.

Farrow studies pulmonary hypertension, abnormally high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs, in preterm infants. “When babies are born very premature, their lungs are not fully developed, and as smaller and younger babies are surviving, we are seeing a subset also develop pulmonary hypertension,” Farrow said. Recently, Farrow’s lab has focused on the signaling pathway involving cyclic GMP, a critical mediator for relaxing the pulmonary arteries. “With very short exposure to oxygen, the signaling pathways get completely dysregulated,” Farrow said. “This has huge impact for us clinically, because babies with this lung disease often sit in oxygen-rich environments for months.”

Farrow’s group has determined that expose to extremely high levels of oxygen for just 24 hours causes the signaling pathways to be disrupted for 13 days. Preterm babies are often exposed to moderately high oxygen levels for a month or more, and Farrow theorizes that this may exacerbate pulmonary hypertension. If correct, her work may change the way newborns get treated. 
Thousands of Schools Nationwide are Receiving Free EpiPen(R) (epinephrine) Auto-Injectors Through the Mylan Specialty L.P. EpiPen4Schools(TM) Program

Several Schools Have Already Turned to EpiPen Auto-Injector for Life-Threatening Allergic Reactions

BASKING RIDGE, N.J., Feb. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Since Mylan Specialty L.P., the fully-integrated specialty pharmaceutical business of Mylan Inc. (Nasdaq: MYL), launched the EpiPen4Schools™ program in August 2012, thousands of schools across the country have elected to participate and redeem free EpiPen® or EpiPen Jr® (epinephrine) Auto-Injectors. The program was created to help schools have improved access to epinephrine in the event a person experiences a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) at school.

"Starting in the fall of 2012, all Chicago Public Schools (CPS) have undesignated epinephrine auto-injectors, provided through the EpiPen4Schools program. To date, we have already had several events in Chicago schools requiring the use of these EpiPen Auto-Injectors. If symptoms of anaphylaxis are identified, a person should be treated with an epinephrine auto-injector and seek immediate emergency medical care after use," said Ruchi Gupta , MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. "As we work with CPS to help facilitate the anaphylaxis policies CPS has implemented, we are pleased to see them having the intended effect."

Read the full press release.  
More Kids Suffering From Kidney Stones

by Mary Kay Kleist

February 14, 2013

Link to the story at CBS Chicago

Kidney stones: not something you’d expects in kids.

But more and more of them are ending up in emergency rooms. So what’s causing this drastic increase? CBS 2′s Mary Kay Kleist explains.

“It felt like I was getting stabbed in the side, and it hurt really, really bad,” 13-year-old Michael Wiggins says of the kidney stone he had two years ago.

Madison Ryan had three kidney stone episodes. She’s 15 now.

“The big increase is in the young adolescent population. So from age 10 to 16, is where the big increase we’re seeing in stones,” Craig B. Langman, MD, professor of pediatrics at the Feinberg School, says.

Langman is head of the Division of Kidney Diseases at Lurie Children's and a member of the Developmental Biology Program of the research center.

Read more.

Kids with psoriasis likely to be obese or overweight

By Marla Paul  

Adapted from Northwestern News (November 19, 2012)

The largest study of physician-treated children with psoriasis around the world shows children with the skin disease are about twice as likely to be overweight or obese as children who don’t have the disease. In the U.S., children with psoriasis had four times the odds of being overweight or obese as healthy controls. Within this population, Hispanics and African American children had significantly greater rates of obesity and overweight than whites and Asians. The odds ratio were particularly high for U.S. children with more severe psoriasis.

“There has been increasing attention to the association of psoriasis and metabolic risks in adults, but this study shows that the association of being overweight or obese and having psoriasis may be even higher in affected children,” said lead author Amy Paller, MD, Chair of Dermatology and the Walter J. Hamlin Professor of Dermatology at the Feinberg School, and a dermatologist at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. The paper was published in Archives of Dermatology.

“This is incredibly significant,” Paller said. “It tells us these children are at increased risk of health complications (cardiac risk and insulin resistance) and need to be watched closely and treated.”

“Psoriasis is driven by many of the same cytokines (proteins) that drive insulin resistance and being overweight,” she continued.

The study was supported by a grant from the International Psoriasis Council.

/uploadedImages/News/InTouch/Sky Garden.jpg

Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago launches pioneering study on how creative spaces help healing  

Adapted from PRNewswire (October 24, 2012)

Researchers at Lurie Children’s are embarking on a pioneering study to understand the extent to which healing spaces promote health and healing during hospitalization. A major focal point of the study will be the Crown Sky Garden, a five thousand square foot garden. Named in honor of Chicago’s philanthropic Crown family, the garden includes bamboo trees, an interactive wall and carved benches made from trees planted by Frederick Law Olmsted (designer of Central Park) for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

“There has been little work on understanding the role of respite spaces in children’s hospitals and I believe this study will have a significant impact on how hospitals are designed in the future,” said Paula Crown, who had a leadership role in the development of the unique garden.

Lurie Children’s is partnering with the internationally-recognized Center for Health Design to examine the impact of hospital design on stress levels in hospitalized children and their parents. “One of the things we know about children is that they need to be engaged in addition to needing a quiet place,” said Jenifer Cartland, PhD, director of the Child Health Data Lab at Lurie Children’s, and the study’s principal investigator. “There is a lot of activity in the Crown Sky Garden that gives children a break from the hospital setting including the wooden benches that emit sounds of animals and nature.”

World-renowned landscape architect Mikyoung Kim worked closely with the Crown family in carefully designing the playful natural oasis. The garden brings in a needed connection to light, sound, water and wood elements. Bamboo planters divide the space to allow for active use as well as a more quiet respite. Lurie Children’s is also part of the Pebble Project, a group of 50 hospitals worldwide that are committed to studying specific innovations in hospital design. Research on the Crown Sky Garden will be shared with other hospitals as they move from conception to design in their own spaces.

 Amir Kagalwalla  
 Hector Melin-Aldana  
String test easier for patients to swallow

by Jessica Tobacman  

Adapted from the Chicago Tribune (October 31, 2012)

A University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine study tested a new way to measure inflammation caused by a condition called eosinophilic esophagitis, a chronic disorder that causes injury to the esophagus. Lead author Steven Ackerman, a professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics at UIC, worked with clinicians at Lurie Children’s and Children’s Hospital Colorado to assess a new, less invasive method. The Enterotest diagnostic device was used to develop an oesophageal string test (EST). Oesophageal mucosal biopsies and EST samples were obtained from children undergoing upper endoscopy. Ackerman said, “We were extremely happy with the results, which suggested that the test is as good as a biopsy for assessing the level of inflammation in the esophagus.” Lurie Children’s clinicians Amir Kagalwalla, MBBS (photo top left) and Hector Melin-Aldana, MD (photo bottom left) are co-authors on the paper that appears online in the journal Gut.




Horizontal FA display

Lower income and minority households more likely to have a child with an undiagnosed food allergy
by Erin White

Adapted from Northwestern News (September 13, 2012)

More can be done to properly manage the care of American children with food allergies, especially when it comes to diagnostic testing and recognizing non-visual symptoms of severe allergic reactions, according to a new Northwestern Medicine study.

“Every child with a food allergy should be diagnosed by a physician, have access to life-saving medication and receive confirmation of the disease through diagnostic testing,” said lead author Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, associate professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, a physician at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and a member of the Mary Ann & J. Milburn Smith Child Health Research Program of Children's Hospital of Chicago Research Center. “Not all children are receiving this kind of care.”

The study was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. It’s the first of its kind to offer insight on how pediatric food allergies are typically diagnosed and what can be done to keep affected children safe.

Here are key findings from the study:
• 70 percent of parents received a physician’s diagnosis for their child’s food allergy.
• Lower income and minority households were more likely to have a child with an undiagnosed food allergy.
• Of the physician-diagnosed children, 32 percent did not receive diagnostic testing such as a blood, skin or oral food challenge test.
• A skin test was the most popular diagnostic test. A blood test was second.
• Only one in five parents reported that their child received an oral food challenge test, the gold standard of food allergy diagnoses.

“An oral food challenge might be scary for parents because their child is being fed the allergenic food,” Gupta said. “Some physicians think the risks outweigh the benefits, but it is the best tool we have to diagnose a food allergy.”

Key findings on the kind of reactions children had to the top nine food allergies include:
• Cutaneous symptoms, such as hives, puffy eyes or lips, and eczema occurred in 80 percent of food-induced anaphylactic reactions.
• During severe, life-threatening reactions, hives only occurred in 40 percent of the cases and puffy eyes or lips in 34 percent of the cases.

Gupta said, “If you suspect your child has eaten something they’re allergic to and you don’t see a visible sign of a reaction, you need to think about what might be going on internally.”

“This study shows why it’s vital that children receive an accurate diagnosis, and that parents and other caregivers know the signs of a severe reaction and are equipped to respond immediately,” said Mary Jane Marchisotto, executive director of the Food Allergy Initiative (FAI), which provided financial support. A nonprofit founded in 1998 by concerned parents and grandparents, FAI is the world’s largest private funder of food allergy research.


FoodAllergyExperience coverRuchi Gupta, MD, MPH authors a food allergy book for the general public - "The Food Allergy Experience: Real voices. Real disease. Real insights.”

The Food Allergy Experience is a source of reliable information and sound advice to help parents, caregivers, friends, relatives, health care providers and teachers better understand how food allergies impact all aspects of a child's life. Beyond statistics, the book provides tools for generating greater awareness, including inspiring quotes, useful tips and light-hearted comics, which put a positive and more realistic face on food allergies. Read more.

Mark Wainwright  
Mark Wainwright, MD, PhD
New drug could treat Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis and brain injury 

By Marla Paul

Adapted from Northwestern University Newscenter (July 25, 2012)

A new class of drug developed at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine shows early promise of being a one-size-fits-all therapy for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and traumatic brain injury (TBI) by reducing inflammation in the brain. Northwestern University has been issued patents to cover this drug class and has licensed the commercial development to a biotech company. The drugs target neuroinflammation, which is increasingly believed to play a major role in the progressive damage characteristic of these chronic diseases and brain injuries.

After TBI, the glia cells in the brain become hyperactive and release a continuous cascade of proinflammatory cytokines that can result in cognitive impairment and epilepsy. As a result, researchers believe the brain is more susceptible to serious damage following a second neurological injury. In a study with mice, Mark Wainright, MD, PhD, professor of Pediatrics at the Feinberg School, a physician at Lurie Children’s and a member of the Neurobiology Program of the research center, showed that when MW151 is given during an early therapeutic window after the injury, it blocks glial activation and prevents the flood of proinflammatory cytokines after TBI.

“If you took a drug like this early on after TBI or a stroke, you could possibly prevent the long-term complications including the risk of seizures, cognitive impairment and, perhaps, mental health issues,” Wainwright said. In another study, Wainwright showed MW151, when given after TBI, prevented the increased risk of epileptic seizures.

Read more.

City kids more likely to have deadly food allergies

By Hans Villarica

Adapted from the Atlantic (July 2, 2012)

The first study to map food allergies across the U.S. finds that children growing up in the suburbs are at greatly reduced risk of dangerous peanut and shellfish allergies. Every three minutes, a food-related allergic reaction sends an American to the emergency room. Since past research has shown that asthma, eczema and conjunctivitis are more prevalent in urban areas than rural ones, are allergies more rampant in cities as well? In urban areas nearly ten percent of children have food allergies, compared to just over six percent in rural communities. Peanut allergies are twice as common in urban centers, while shellfish allergies are more than twice as prevalent. Still, regardless of where a child lives, almost 40 percent of food-allergic kids in the survey had already experienced a life-threatening reaction. Lead author Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH says higher population density appears to be a risk factor for developing food allergies. “The big question is: what in the environment is triggering them? A better understanding of environmental factors will help us with prevention efforts.” The full study is published in Clinical Pediatrics.

Gupta is associate professor of Pediatrics and the Center for Healthcare Studies at the Feinberg School, attending physician in Academic General Pediatrics and Primary Care of Lurie Children’s and a member of the Smith Child Health Research Program of the research center.
Leon Epstein  
Leon Epstein, MD
Childhood virus infection linked to prolonged seizures with fever

Adapted from Wiley Press Room (June 14, 2012)

New research shows that human herpesviruses (HHV)-6B and HHV-7, commonly known as roseola virus, account for one third of febrile status epilepticus (FSE) cases. Results of the FEBSTAT prospective study now available in Epilepsia suggest that HHV-6B may be involved in the development of epilepsy. FEBSTAT is a multi-center study of the consequences of FSE, designed to identify the factors that increase the risk of injury to the hippocampus, an area of the brain implicated in the development of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). Up to five percent of children under the age of five have febrile seizures. Five to eight percent of cases meet the criteria for status epilepticus (SE), a critical condition where a persistent seizure lasts more than 30 minutes. FSE accounts for 25 percent of all childhood SE and for more than 70 percent of SE cases that occur in the second year of life. FSE is associated with increased risk of TLE. “One aim of the FEBSTAT study is to determine the frequency of these herpesviruses as a cause of FSE and whether infection with any of them increases the risk of brain injury and epilepsy,” said lead author Leon Epstein, MD, Derry and Donald L. Shoemaker Professor of Pediatric Neurology and professor of Pediatrics at the Feinberg School, head of the Division of Neurology at Lurie Children’s and a member of the Neurobiology Program of the research center. The team enrolled children who presented with FSE and received an assessment for herpesvirus infection within 72 hours of the episode. Findings indicate that approximately one third of children with FSE had HHV-6 or HHV-7 viremia. FEBSTAT researchers will continue to follow the children, expecting up to 40 percent to develop TLE. “TLE can take 8 to 11 years to develop following an episode of FSE, so more time is needed before the role of HHV-6B is fully understood,” concludes Epstein. “If the FEBSTAT study finds that FSE caused by HHV-6B leads to TLE, this would provide a basis for clinical trials of antiviral and anti-inflammatory therapies to prevent TLE.”
Vasil Galat  
Vasil Galat, PhD
Dynamic changes in gene regulation in human stem cells

By Debra Kain

Adapted from The Scripps Research Institute News (May 3, 2012)

A team led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute and the University of California (UC) San Diego has discovered a new type of dynamic change in human stem cells. The report, which appears in the May 2012 issue of Cell Stem Cell, shows that these cells can change their epigenomes, the patterns of DNA modifications that regulate the activity of specific genes. These changes may influence the cells’ abilities to serve as models of disease and development. Louise Laurent, assistant professor in the UC San Diego School of Medicine, Professor Jeanne Loring of Scripps Research and their colleagues focused on understanding gene silencing via DNA methylation, a process whereby bits of DNA are chemically marked with tags that prevent the genes from being expressed. Errors in this process are known contributors to serious developmental defects and cancer. The team assessed the state of DNA methylation and gene expression in the most comprehensive set of human stem cell samples to date. The results showed surprising changes in patterns of DNA methylation in the stem cells.

Since female cells contain two X chromosomes and males only one, one X chromosome in females is normally silenced by DNA methylation. The study demonstrated that a majority of female human pluripotent stem cells cultured in the lab lost their X chromosome inactivation over time.

Human cells contain two copies of most genes, with equal expression of the maternal and paternal copies. For imprinted genes, however, some are only expressed from either the paternal or maternal chromosomes. The study found that the patterns of DNA methylation required to maintain imprinted gene silencing were stable in the somatic tissues, but frequent aberrations existed in the stem cells; some of these aberrations were linked to the conditions under which the stem cells were cultured.

Scientists have assumed that most genes are active at the earliest stages of human development, and unnecessary ones are switched off as the cells develop specialized functions. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the team observed that the genes responsible for transforming stem cells into tissue cells were initially silent and then switched on during the process of differentiation.

Vasil Galat, PhD, research assistant professor of Pathology at the Feinberg School and director of the research center’s iPS and Human Stem Cell Core Facility, is a member of the research team. 
  John Crispino  
John Crispino, PhD 

Unraveling why children with Down syndrome have increased leukemia risk

February 22, 2012    Adapted from EurekAlert!

Children with Down syndrome (DS) have an increased risk of developing acute megakaryoblastic leukemia (AMKL) and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). A team of researchers led by John Crispino, PhD, has now identified a potential explanation for the increased risk of AMKL. In doing so, they have also identified a candidate therapeutic target. DS is a genetic condition in which a person has an extra copy of chromosome 21. Crispino’s group found that increased expression of the protein templated by the chromosome 21 gene Dyrk1a promotes AMKL in a mouse model of DS. Interestingly, an inhibitor of DYRK1A activity inhibited the growth of AMKL cell lines from individuals with DS. The researchers suggest that developing small molecule inhibitors may have therapeutic potential. Shai Izraeli and Yehudit Birger, at Sheba Medical Center, Israel, second this idea in an accompanying commentary.  This research, funded by the National Cancer Institute, is published in the March 1, 2012 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation. Gina Kirsammer, PhD, a postdoctoral associate in the laboratory of Mary J. C. Hendrix, PhD and former Crispino graduate student, is a co-author of the study.
Estella Alonso  Udeme Ekong 
Estella Alonso, MD (left) and Udeme Ekong, MD

Discontinuing immunosuppression in transplant patients

February 1, 2012    Adapted from EurekAlert!

Physicians at three transplant centers have found that a majority of children who receive liver tissue from a parent can eventually stop using immunosuppression (anti-rejection) medications safely. These drugs have been linked to a bevy of complications. Published in the January 18, 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, the research found three factors that appear to predict which patients are most likely to do well if the medications are withdrawn. “These findings bring us closer to the Holy Grail of transplant medicine, which is to give a patient an organ and then taper off use of drugs that prevent rejection,” says co-author Steven J. Lobritto of Columbia University and New York-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. All patients had received liver tissue donated by a parent. Immunosuppressant drugs were tapered off while the patients were closely monitored. These three clinical factors predicted which patients could withdraw from their medications without repercussions: a longer time between transplant and withdrawal, absence of liver inflammation, and absence of C4d activity in the liver. These institutions and others expect to launch a larger study in a wider variety of pediatric liver transplant patients. The Immune Tolerance Network, an international clinical research consortium founded by the NIH, funded the study. Udeme Ekong, MD and Estella Alonso, MD are co-authors.

Link discovered among spectrum of childhood diseases  

October 31, 2011   Adapted from ScienceDaily

An international collaboration of scientists has identified a genetic mutation that causes a rare childhood disease characterized by inflammation and fat loss. The research suggests that chronic atypical neutrophilic dermatosis with lipodystrophy and elevated temperature (CANDLE) represents a spectrum of diseases that have been described under a variety of names. Since no effective treatment exists, the findings may have uncovered a target for treatments. When National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases rheumatologist Raphaela Goldbach-Mansky, MD started seeking the cause of inflammatory skin lesions, fat loss and fevers in two young patients, she learned about recent publications by two other groups -- one led by Antonio Torrelo, MD from the Boy Jesus Hospital, Madrid, and Amy Paller, MD from Northwestern University and Children’s Memorial Hospital, and the other by Abraham Zlotogorski, MD from the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center, Jerusalem -- describing similar conditions. She immediately emailed them. “They had found each other and were looking for a genetic cause and additional cases,” said Goldbach-Mansky. The researchers suspected that the children must have the same disease, and subsequent analyses confirmed this. All but one child had at least one mutation in the gene PSMB8. The discovery, described in Arthritis & Rheumatism, could enable doctors to identify more children and develop a better understanding and treatment of the disorders.

Rajesh Kumar

Why black children may be more likely to develop food allergies  

September 5, 2011   Adapted from Time Healthland

Rajesh Kumar, MD and colleagues reported in the October 2011 issue of Pediatrics that black children are more than twice as likely as white children to have sensitivities to foods that commonly cause allergic reactions, and are especially vulnerable to peanut allergies. African ancestry was associated with peanut sensitization. The results suggest that race and ancestry may play an important role in food allergies. Kumar acknowledges that the findings probably won’t translate into useful guidelines for parents or pediatricians yet. But they serve as a good foundation for a better understanding of which factors related to race and ancestry might affect how we react to common allergens. “Once we identify the genes or environmental factors specifically responsible, we will be in a better position to pinpoint individuals at risk,” he says. “This opens the door to that work.” Kumar is associate professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, attending physician in Allergy and Immunology at Children’s Memorial, and a member of the Mary Ann and J. Milburn Smith Child Health Research Program of Children's Memorial Research Center.


Too few food allergies confirmed by oral food challenge  

by Ashley Mattys  

November 5, 2011   American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI)

Oral food challenges are the gold standard for diagnosis of food allergy, yet few physicians are using the diagnostic method, according to a study presented at the ACAAI Annual Meeting in 2011. Among the 40,104 children surveyed, 3,339 cases of food allergy were identified. Only 61.5 percent received a formal physician diagnosis. About 15 percent of these children underwent an oral food challenge. The authors conclude that food allergy may be under diagnosed in the U.S. When it is suspected, ACAAI recommends patients be referred to an allergist to determine which tests to perform and determine if food allergy exists, and counsel patients on management. “Oral food challenge provides a definitive diagnosis which is critical to providing proper disease management and prevents unnecessary avoidance of certain foods,” says Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH

Emalee Flaherty

Much child abuse is unreported  

December 16, 2011   Adapted from UPI

Laws that could punish adults who keep silent when they suspect a child has been abused go largely unenforced in the U.S., research shows. A USA Today investigation into police and court records found that irregular enforcement and small penalties mean adults face little repercussions for concealing abuse. Child welfare agencies estimate that at least 695,000 children were abused or neglected in the past year -- but much abuse is not reported. Of the 222 cases USA Today reviewed, 102 people were convicted and only 14 served jail time. Most often, people who knew of abuse and didn’t report it were given probation or a fine if they weren’t acquitted. A 2008 study published in the journal Pediatrics found that many doctors chose not to report physical injuries they suspected were “likely” or “very likely” caused by abuse. “That really surprised us,” said Emalee Flaherty, MD, a pediatrician at Children’s Memorial, one of the study’s authors. “The doctors told us that they didn’t report because they weren’t certain. The laws are written so that they don’t have to be certain to report it. But they don’t want to be wrong.”

 Youth Risk Behavior Survey   
 One in every four high school students is sexually active

August 26, 2011
  Adapted from FOX Chicago News

This statistic has been generating a lot of talk, especially among parents – one in four high school students is having sex. The survey was conducted by the Cook County Department of Public Health in collaboration with the Child Health Data Lab of the Mary Ann and J. Milburn Smith Child Health Research Program. The questionnaire was completed by 1,718 students in 20 public high schools in suburban Cook County during the fall of 2010. The survey asked questions about a variety of topics including drug usage, smoking and obesity. Thirty-seven percent of students surveyed said they had ever had sexual intercourse. Six percent of students said their first sexual encounter was before the age of 13. Seven percent said they were raped. Some other key findings: 14 percent of boys admitted carrying a weapon at least once in the past month and 12 percent of high school students consider themselves smokers.

For sleeping babies, softer isn’t safer

August 23, 2011
  Adapted from Reuters Health

Lots of African American moms put soft bedding where babies sleep, despite warnings that the cushioning increases the risk of infant death, according to a new study. That’s because many parents are under the impression that a soft sleeping environment means the baby will be more comfortable or protected from injuries. Researchers know that black babies are at least twice as likely as white, Latino and Asian babies to die of accidental suffocation, strangulation or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Much of that higher incidence is probably due to parents unknowingly putting infants in a dangerous sleeping place or position. To find out whether black families know about the risks, a group from Children’s National Medical Center asked women if they used soft bedding -- and why or why not. More than half of the moms reported using soft bedding for their baby, according to findings published in Pediatrics. “People use it because they think it’s going to make their baby safer,” said lead author Rachel Moon.

Although the interviews were only done with black mothers, parents of all races may misinterpret a pediatrician’s recommendations on what constitutes a safe sleeping environment, said Debra Weese- Mayer, MD. The study “is a humbling lesson that even though we think we’re giving a very clear message, if the parent and the caretaker are interpreting it in a way different from what we intended, we’re not doing a good job,” Weese-Mayer said. “If it can save babies because we do a better job of translating our
recommendations, that’s wonderfully important.”

Profile of Health and Health Resources     
 Comprehensive report of Chicago’s health and health resources
A Profile of Health and Health Resources within Chicago’s 77 Communities credits the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC) with:
“leading the enhanced evaluation for the suburban Cook County Communities Putting Prevention to Work project (CPPW). The CPPW is part of a national initiative to change policy, systems and environments to support healthy diet, physical activity and reduce tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke across the U.S. Funded by the CDC, the enhanced evaluation has led to the development of a data set of nearly 20,000 cases for Body Mass Index for suburban Cook County school-aged children. This is one of the largest data sets available for obesity surveillance in the U.S. CLOCC also serves as bona fide agent of the Chicago Department of Public Health and manages Healthy Places, a CPPW obesity prevention initiative in the City of Chicago.”

Part of the Smith Child Health Research Program of the research center, CLOCC is a nationally recognized leader in childhood obesity prevention and advocacy.

Young gay men who use meth may risk HIV

August 3, 2011
  Adapted from Reuters Health

Young gay and bisexual men who use methamphetamine are more likely to take sexual risks that boost their chances of contracting HIV. Methamphetamine triggers a massive release of the feel-good chemical dopamine in the brain, making users feel disinhibited and energized. Studies of gay and bisexual men have found that roughly 43 percent have ever used meth, and that the habit is strongly linked to their risk of contracting HIV.

Much less has been known about meth use and HIV risk among teenagers and young men. In a new study researchers surveyed 595 12- to 24-year-old gay and bisexual males from eight U.S. cities. They found that 31 percent had ever used hard drugs, onethird of whom had used methamphetamine. Young men who’d used meth were more likely to report a range of risk factors for HIV, including having sex with multiple partners, with an injection-drug user and/or with someone who was HIV-positive; and being less consistent with condom use. That’s concerning, Robert Garofalo of Children’s Memorial told Reuters Health, and it also points to a large public health need. “There are not a lot of proven HIV prevention programs for this age group,” Garofalo said. More programs need to be piloted, he said. The findings, which appear in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, are not representative of all young gay and bisexual men in the U.S. The researchers recruited their participants from venues where they might find higher-risk young men. But, said lead researcher Peter Freeman, also with Children’s Memorial, “it tells us something about where to find these young men, and where we might be able to run some type of intervention.” In 2004, Americans between the ages of 13 and 24 accounted for 13 percent of new HIV diagnoses. Gay and bisexual males, especially minorities, have been particularly vulnerable. 


Manu Jain

Cancer drug may also work for scleroderma

September 22, 2011
  Adapted from Northwestern University News

A drug used to treat cancer may also be effective in diseases that cause scarring of the internal organs or skin, such as pulmonary fibrosis or scleroderma. Bortezomib stopped the production of fibrotic proteins in human cells and the development of fibrous scarring in a mouse model, according to a new study in the journal Thorax. “This drug appears to put the brakes on abnormal development of scar tissue in the lungs and skin and may also work in other organs,” said lead author Manu Jain, MD, Associate professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at the Feinberg School and a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Children’s Memorial. “These diseases have a high fatality rate, and there is no truly effective treatment for them.” Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that causes progressive thickening and tightening of the skin and can lead to serious internal organ damage and, in some cases, death. Scleroderma affects an estimated 300,000 people in the U.S. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a scarring or thickening of the lungs without any known cause that makes it increasingly difficult to breathe. It may affect up to 200,000 people in the U.S. Jain said the drug appears to inhibit a protein called transforming growth factor beta, which is essential for the growth of the scar tissue. Patients with fibrosis have increased levels and activity of the growth factor. Bortezomib is currently used to treat multiple myeloma and lymphoma.


Study: Food Allergies Affect One in 13 Children  

June 20, 2011 Adapted from CBS Chicago News

A new study by researchers in Chicago finds food allergies in children are much more common than previously believed. As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports, the study, published in the journal Pediatrics finds that about one in 13 U.S. children suffers from food allergies. The figure is double the latest government estimate. Researchers say about 40 percent of the children have severe reactions — a finding they hope will erase misconceptions that food allergies are just like hay fever and other seasonal allergies that are troublesome but not dangerous. The findings suggest that food allergies affect two kids per classroom, said lead author Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, a pediatrician and researcher with Children’s Memorial. She provided WBBM 780 with an explanation of why the numbers were so high. “It is partially genetic and partially environmental, and something in our environment has changed to cause this increase over the past 20, 30 years,” she said. Read more.

 Jami Josefson

Excessive Pregnancy Weight Gain Raises the Risk of Having a Fat Baby  

June 7, 2011
Adapted from ScienceDaily

Women who gain too much weight during pregnancy tend to have newborns with a high amount of body fat, regardless of the mother’s weight before pregnancy, a new study finds. The results were presented at The Endocrine Society’s
93rd annual meeting
in Boston. High fat at birth is a possible risk factor for childhood obesity, said the study’s principal investigator Jami Josefson, MD, a pediatric endocrinologist at Children’s Memorial and assistant professor at the Feinberg School. “Previous studies have shown that children of mothers who gain too much weight during pregnancy are more likely to be overweight for their age,” Josefson said. “However, not all these studies accounted for the mother’s diabetes status during pregnancy, which is a known risk factor for offspring obesity.” The new study evaluated only pregnant women without gestational diabetes, therefore ruling out the chance that this disorder could account for their findings.Read more.

Barbara Burton

Children’s Memorial is One of 12 Sites in U.S. to Evaluate Liver Cell Infusion in Children with Life-Threatening Urea Cycle Disorders  

April 25, 2011
Children’s Memorial News Room

Children’s Memorial is enrolling patients in a national clinical research trial which, for the first time in the U.S., is using an investigational liver cell infusion to treat urea cycle disorders (UCDs) in children. UCDs are congenital and often life-threatening disorders of ammonia metabolism in the liver. Neurotoxic ammonia accumulates in the body, which may lead — depending on the severity of the disease — to massive damage of the nerves and the brain and can be fatal. Children who remain untreated rarely experience normal physical and mental development. The only cure is liver transplantation, which may be difficult for very young children and neonatal patients. Additionally, there is a shortage of suitable organs available for transplantation. “We are pleased to be participating in this trial because it has the potential to provide a treatment option for children with a rare and complicated diagnosis for which there are few options now. We are looking forward to conducting this clinical trial and learning more about this investigational product,” said Barbara Burton, MD, attending physician, Genetics, Children’s Memorial. The clinical trial, called SELICA III, is sponsored by the biotechnology company Cytonet and is designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of liver cell therapy in infants to children up to 5 years old with UCD. Read more.


Nancy Young 
Nancy Young, MD 

 Newborn Hearing Screenings Do Not Appear to Identify All Children At Risk for Hearing Loss  

March 21, 2011
adapted from ScienceDaily

Although universal newborn hearing screening programs appear to identify children with hearing loss at a younger age, nearly one-third of pediatric cochlear implant recipients pass newborn screening only to be diagnosed later in infancy or early childhood, according to a report in the March issue of Archives of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery. “When universal newborn hearing screening programs (UNHS) were initially conceived, it was presumed that most hearing-impaired children, especially those without risk factors for progressive hearing loss, would fail the objective screening performed during the newborn period, thus making early diagnosis and intervention possible on a widespread basis,” the authors write. In Illinois, UNHS became mandated by law in 2003 for use in all birthing hospitals. Nancy M. Young, MD and colleagues examined data for 391 children who received cochlear implants in Illinois from 1991 through 2008. Implant patients were divided into those born before mandatory UNHS and those born after the screening became legally required.
Children born after the law was implemented were screened at a much higher rate than those born before. Of those born after the UNHS mandate, 65.4 percent had a known cause of or at least one risk factor for hearing loss, and 25.3 percent of those children passed hearing screenings. Overall, children screened after the mandate were significantly younger at diagnosis of hearing loss, age at diagnosis of severe to profound hearing loss and age at implantation than children born prior to passage of the law. Additionally, children who failed screenings were diagnosed and underwent implantation significantly earlier than those who passed or were not screened as newborns. “Almost one-third of our pediatric implant recipients pass UNHS and are older at the time of initial diagnosis and implantation than their peers who fail UNHS,” the authors conclude. “Delayed onset of sensorineural hearing loss [hearing loss stemming from the inner ear or central processing centers in the brain] limits our ability to achieve early diagnosis and implantation of a significant number of deaf children.”

 Center for Applied Innovation logo Berg Biosystems Working to Make Available Potassium Iodide to Japanese Children

March 18, 2011
Adapted from Vocus/PRWEB

Berg Biosystems, a Boston-based biopharma firm and the Chicago-based non-profit Center for Applied Innovation (CAI) announced that they are accelerating the transfer of more than fifty kilograms of potassium iodide active pharmaceutical ingredient to Japan, seeking to protect Japanese children and nursing mothers in the wake of the recent nuclear disaster. The donation was the brainchild of Carl E. Berg, chairman of Berg Biosystems and Silicon Valley visionary. The material will be used to manufacture thousands of potassium iodide pills to combat radiation due to leaking radioactive iodine. The ingestion of iodide can help to prevent the accumulation of radioactive iodine in the thyroid. Paul Y. Song, president-chief medical officer of Cytotech Labs and a Los Angeles-based radiation oncologist, explained that potassium iodide is a safe and easy preventative step recommended for kids, nursing mothers and pregnant women because of their increased susceptibility to the potential carcinogenic effects of radiation. Mary J.C. Hendrix, PhD, president and scientific director of the research center and a CAI Fellow, served as a technology advisor to the transaction. 
Debra Weese-Mayer

Debra Weese-Mayer is Revolutionizing Pediatric Respiratory Medicine
American Thoracic Society News May 2011

In this feature article, Debra Weese-Mayer, MD discusses her decision to become a doctor, how she founded the Center for Autonomic Medicine in Pediatrics at Children’s Memorial Hospital, her research and her awesome family.




Marleta Reynolds 
Marleta Reynolds, MD

 Surgical Disparities

November 16, 2010 
adapted from Medical News Today

Thyroid cancer is the third most common malignancy in children, and the incidence is rising approximately one percent per year. Now a new analysis published in the October issue of Annals of Surgical Oncology indicates that although the proportion of young patients undergoing total thyroidectomy (TT) increased by 34 percent between 1985 and 2007, a variety of hospital and patient factors including disparities in access to surgeons and state-of-the-art care affect whether a child actually receives TT or another less extensive operation. Lead study author Mehul V. Raval, MD was an American College of Surgeons research fellow at the time the analysis was performed and is a surgical resident at the Feinberg School. According to coauthor Marleta Reynolds, MD, head of the Department of Surgery at Children’s Memorial, the study is valuable because it characterizes some of the disparities in access for children across the country. “I’d like to think that all children could have access to physicians who are practicing surgery based upon the latest medical data,” she said.


Cochlear Implant on Young Toddler First Step in Long Journey

December 17, 2010  
adapted from FOX Chicago News

It’s been said that a journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step. This fall, 13 year old Skye Carter danced the tango at the Alfred E. Mann Foundation Gala in Santa Monica, California. With every beat, every move and every turn, Skye proves miracles are just steps away. “I said if we just touched one parent it would have been worth it, and I’ve seen her touch so many families,” Skye’s mother Cheryl Carter said. Thirteen years ago, Cheryl didn’t even know if her daughter would walk. “She wasn’t sitting up, she wasn’t alert as other children were, so in denial I had her hearing checked and she ended up having a profound sensorineural hearing loss,” Cheryl said. Doctors told Cheryl her little girl would never hear or speak. But through the silence, Cheryl found a voice of hope from doctor Nancy Young at Children’s Memorial. At two years old, Dr. Young performed a successful cochlear implant surgery. Cheryl vividly remembers the first time Skye could hear. “They said, ‘Okay mom, we’re ready for her to feel her first words,’ and I got myself together and said, ‘Hi Skye,’ and she looked at me and laughed and dove into my chest, and it was just a miraculous moment.” 


Mark Wainwright 
Mark Wainwright,

Boy Who Was in Coma 3 Years Ago Returns to Hospital as Santa

December 21, 2010
adapted from the Chicago Tribune

Charlie Benson recalls a past holiday season when his life seemed bound by an unending streak of good luck: terrific job, great marriage and, above all, a happy, healthy son, Sam. “We were living the perfect life,” said Benson. “Like most people, I thought nothing bad could ever happen to us.” But that idyllic life began to unravel in October 2007, when Sam, then 10, was stricken by a barrage of grand mal seizures. Soon, doctors at Children’s Memorial would be presenting the Bensons with a heartbreaking decision. “They had done every test you can think of, and they still couldn’t get a handle on what was causing the seizures,” Charlie Benson said. “The doctors were worried about the damage the seizures were doing to Sam’s brain, so they suggested that the best thing was to put him in a coma to stabilize him while they searched for an answer.” Three weeks later, doctors had solved the mystery: A rare autoimmune disease was causing Sam’s body to produce deadly antibodies that were attacking the blood vessels of his brain. The diagnosis was a breakthrough, but as doctors slowly brought Sam out of the drug- induced coma, it was clear that the family’s challenges were not behind them. While halting the seizures had protected Sam from further permanent brain damage, he awoke
unable to talk, walk or swallow.

Three years after he was forced to reboot his young life, Sam returned to Children’s Memorial walking proudly alongside his dad as the pair delivered Christmas presents for critically ill children who will spend their holiday season in the pediatric intensive care unit. “Sam has got a tremendous sense of humor, and he takes everything in stride,” said Dr. Mark Wainwright, Sam’s pediatric neurologist and director of the neurocritical care program at Children’s Memorial. Wainwright described his patient’s amazing recovery as “a credit to Sam’s parents and a whole team effort at the hospital.” “Sometimes he still gets sad, and he asks, ‘Dad, why did this happen to me?’” added Benson, “and I always tell him, ‘Sam, you are a miracle.’”

-by Karen Ann Cullotta


Genetic Abnormalities Found in Stem Cell Lines

January 6, 2011  
adapted from the Los Angeles Times

Pluripotent stem cells, because of their amazing capacity to morph into other cell types, have been touted as a potential source for replacement tissues that might someday help reverse spinal cord injuries, Alzheimer’s disease, and even the damage caused by heart attacks. But so far only two companies have been granted permission by the FDA to move ahead with trials in humans. A new study, published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, may illustrate part of the reason why. Scientists still haven’t figured out how to make sure most stem cells are safe. Using a molecular technique called single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis, the researchers found that both embryonic stem (ES) cells and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells — adult cells rewound to an embryonic state — had more genetic abnormalities than other cell types. ES cells tended to have duplications, while iPS cells were more likely to have deletions. In ES cells, the duplications were near genes that allow the cells to turn into any other kind of cell. In iPS cells, duplications involved cell proliferation genes, and deletions involved tumor suppressor genes.

The danger of such genetic abnormalities? They are often associated with cancers, said senior author Jeanne F. Loring of the Scripps Research Institute. The changes would not have been detected by traditional microscopic techniques. “SNP analysis has not been a part of routine monitoring of these cell cultures, but our results suggest that perhaps it should be,” Loring said. “We don’t know yet what effects, if any, these genetic abnormalities will have on the outcome of basic research studies or clinical applications,” said lead author, UC San Diego professor Louise Laurent. “We need to find out.” Until they do, don’t expect an explosion of ES- or iPS-based cures for disease. Vasil Galat, PhD of the Department of Pathology at the Feinberg School and director of the iPS and Human Stem Cell Core Facility of the research center, contributed to the study.

-by Eryn Brown

Darius Loghmanee

 Sleep Centers for Kids Grow in Suburbs — For Some Children, Bedtime Brings Grown-Up Problems

September 8, 2010

adapted from the Chicago Tribune

Many parents have stories of children’s sleep difficulties, from the babies who wake up every hour to the toddlers who try to delay bedtime with requests for a glass of water, another story, or an answer to just one more question. But for some, the problems go deeper. Sleep apnea or periodic limb movements keep children from sleeping deeply. Some can’t fall asleep easily or stay asleep. Some are chronic bed-wetters. Others sleepwalk or have night terrors. And, like adults with sleep issues, they might find help at a sleep center. “During an initial visit, I’ll get to know the patient and family,” said Dr. Darius Loghmanee, attending physician in the Sleep Medicine Center at Children’s Memorial and Assistant professor of Pediatrics at the Feinberg School. “I’ll ask about the bedtime routine: ‘What time does the child go to sleep and wake up, is there sleepwalking, is the child sleepy during the day?’ I’ll also take a medical history and ask if the sleep problem is impacting the family.” Poor sleep can contribute to mental and developmental health issues as well as underperformance in school.

In recognition of the growing desire for specialized care, some hospitals are creating sleep centers designed especially for kids. Children’s Memorial, which already offered children’s sleep services at Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, opened a stand-alone pediatric sleep medicine program in July at its outpatient center in Westchester. Loghmanee agrees that one was needed. “There are very few pediatric sleep specialists in the country, much less in Illinois,” he said. “We felt it was our responsibility to increase our availability to families and pediatricians in the western suburbs.” Children’s Memorial’s Westchester location provides the same services as the sleep program on the hospital’s main campus in Lincoln Park, he said. Those services include initial and follow-up consultations, behavioral and medical treatments, and the recording and interpretations of sleep studies that closely monitor patients while they sleep. Read the full story.

--by Karen Schwartz

Fish Topczewski Featured in DePaul Magazine excerpted from Go Fish! by Elizabeth Gardner

DePaul researchers take “fishing trips” as far as Ecuador and as nearby as Chicago’s Children’s
Memorial Hospital, unraveling mysteries of evolution and genomics. Even though DePaul is nowhere near the ocean, its Department of Biological Sciences has spawned a cadre of fish researchers. They bypass Lake Michigan to study vertebrate fauna in Alaska, Ecuador or the aquaria in their own labs. And, they collaborate with local medical researchers to push the boundaries of knowledge for both fish and humans. Elizabeth LeClair, Associate professor at DePaul, has teamed with Jacek Topczewski, an Assistant professor of Pediatrics at the Feinberg School, to explore how mutations cause defects in cartilage development. She recently spent 15 months under DePaul’s paid leave program to study craniofacial development in mutant zebrafish. Because zebrafish and humans share many embryonic processes, studying such mutations may lead to understanding the genetic basis of common human birth defects like cleft lip and cleft palate. LeClair did the work under Topczewski’s NIH grant, and is now waiting to hear whether she’ll receive her own NIH support. She says the primary goal of further funding will be to train students in handling, breeding and raising zebrafish and in studying genetics and cell biology. “I want to teach them all the methods they need to be well-rounded biomedical scientists.”

Adjusting for Genetic History Would Improve Results for Asthma

July 7, 2010 -- adapted from HealthDay News

The lung function tests used to diagnose conditions like asthma may need to be adjusted to account for differences in patients’ genetic ancestry, a new study suggests. Now, physicians adjust the test results to account for factors like age, sex, race and weight, but not for mixed ancestry. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates more adjustments may be necessary because many people have mixed ancestry, which influences the test results. “People throughout the world have a richer genetic heritage than can be captured by our current definitions of race,” said study senior author Esteban G. Burchard. “When we force patients into an individual box, such as ‘African-American’ or ‘Caucasian,’ we’re missing a lot of genetic information,” added Burchard, director of the University of California, San Francisco’s Center for Genes, Environment and Health.

In the study, which looked at data from more than 3,000 patients, the researchers found that genetic ancestry significantly affects performance on the lung function tests. The breathing tests can detect signs of illness like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Test results can help doctors make decisions about disability claims and eligibility for lung transplants. “Taking genetic ancestry into account could result in more appropriate treatment for patients,” said lead author Rajesh Kumar, attending physician in Allergy and Immunology at Children’s Memorial, Associate professor of Pediatrics at the Feinberg School and a member
of the Smith Child Health Research Program of the research center.

-- by Randy Dotinga 

On the cover of CenterPiece: Confocal microscopy image of a head of four-
day-old zebrafish embryo.  Image
courtesy of Jacek Topczewski, PhD.

CenterPiece features work of Morris and Topczewski

CenterPiece, a magazine about research scholarship, collaboration, and outreach at Northwestern University, highlights the zebrafish work of Jill Morris, PhD and Jacek Topczewski, PhD in its Spring 2010 issue.  In the story, "Fishing for Answers", publications editor Amanda Morris discusses Morris' research on the Disrupted-in-Schizophrenia-1 (DISC-1) gene and Topczewski's work on craniofacial defects.  Both use zebrafish, an increasingly popular model organism, in their research.  Topczewski is also highlighted as the manager of Children's Memorial Research Center's Fish Facility, "the biggest fish facility affiliated with Northwestern".  The story also features David McLean, PhD, and Sergei Revskoy, MD, PhD, both of Northwestern University.  Morris is Assistant professor of Pediatrics at the Feinberg School and a member of the Human Molecular Genetics Program of the research center.  Topczewski is Assistant professor of Pediatrics at the Feinberg School and a member of the Developmental Biology Program of the research center.


American Thoracic Society Issues Statement on Disorder of Respiratory and Autonomic Nervous System Regulation

ATS has released a new official clinical policy statement on congenital central hypoventilation syndrome (CCHS), a disorder of respiratory and autonomic nervous system (ANS) regulation. The ANS regulates reflexive acts, including heart rate and blood pressure, digestion, body temperature and pain perception. The statement appears in the March 15, 2010 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

In 2003, a gene called PHOX2B was found to be the disease-defining gene for CCHS. The specific manner in which the gene mutates predicts the severity and form of the disease. “This discovery confirmed what we had long believed to be true: first, that CCHS is a genetic disorder; second, that the gene responsible for CCHS has a key role in the early embryology of the ANS; third, that inheritance of CCHS and the PHOX2B mutation is autosomal dominant; fourth, that the nature of the PHOX2B mutations can explain the spectrum of the CCHS,” explained Debra E. Weese-Mayer, MD, who chaired the committee that wrote the guidelines. “The discovery that PHOX2B is the gene that defines CCHS offers endless opportunities in terms of basic science inquiry and clinical care — all with the long-term goal to improve quality of life for these patients.”

Neurology Today Interview

Weese-Mayer was interviewed by Neurology Today about a February 2010 report in the Journal of the American Medical Association that identified abnormalities in serotonin (5-HT) and tryptophan hydroxylase levels, and significantly reduced 5-HT receptor binding in the brains of babies who had died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Weese-Mayer said “As proposed previously, and confirmed in this new manuscript, there is likely a spectrum of serotonin deficiency such that some babies will need to be exposed to modifiable risk factors to succumb to SIDS but others will die regardless of risk factor exposure. It was this logic that originally led us to consider a genetic basis for SIDS.” Weese-Mayer is Professor of Pediatrics at the Feinberg School, Medical director, Center for Autonomic Medicine in Pediatrics at Children’s Memorial Hospital and a member of the Clinical and Translational Research Program of Children's Memorial Research Center.
Jenifer Cartland

Tackling the race gap in infant mortality

April 9, 2010 -- WBEZ, Chicago Public Radio

It’s the stuff of nightmares – a parent goes to check on a sleeping infant, only to find that the worst has happened. Sleep-related infant deaths have been on the decline in the U.S. But new research shows the problem around Chicago is more complicated. African-American infants in Cook County are 12 times more likely to die of sleep-related causes than white babies. Researchers aren’t sure why – but that hasn’t stopped people from trying to do something about it.

Jenifer Cartland is a professional number cruncher. But when she uncovered the huge disparity in sleep-related infant deaths, she had to run it by a few people.
CARTLAND: Because I wanted to make sure it was accurate before I would go out with something that was so shocking.
Cartland runs the Child Health Data Lab at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. And unfortunately, she didn’t find any math errors. The numbers aren’t huge – but they’re unevenly spread.


Karen Sheehan, Maryann Mason and Jenifer Cartland, Child
Health Data Lab

Racial disparity seen in infant sleep deaths

March 28, 2010 -- Chicago Tribune
African-American infants in Cook County are 12 times more likely to die of sleep-related causes than white infants, according to researchers at Children's Memorial Research Center. Sleep-related deaths include sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), unintentional suffocation in bed and those in which the cause was undetermined but investigations found that the infant died during sleep. When researchers took a closer look at the undetermined deaths, they found an even more striking racial disparity: African-American infants were almost 17 times more likely to die of unknown sleep-related causes. In most cases, the infants had been sleeping in unsafe situations that put them at risk, such as being placed in a bed with a parent. Read the full story.


Research shows Chicago teens exercise less than teens statewide

Chicago--- A new study by Children's Memorial Research Center finds that fewer than one-third of Chicago teens exercise, compared to the Illinois average of slightly fewer than half. As a result, researchers fear Chicago’s youth could be at risk for chronic illness as adults.

The research, conducted by Jenifer Cartland, PhD, director of the research center’s Child Health Data Lab, and Tracie L. Smith, MPH, Child Health Data Lab, reveals the percentage of Chicago teens participating in the amount of physical activity recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is strikingly low. The CDC recommends a number of activities including running or walking 60 minutes a day to improve one’s bone strength, reduce fat, maintain weight and increase mental health. Read the full story.  



Alexis Thompson Studies Investigate Emerging Trends and Treatment Options for Patients with Sickle Cell Disease

December 6, 2009 — PRNewswire-USNewswire (Source: American Society of Hematology)

Sickle cell disease, a condition characterized by deformed and dysfunctional red blood cells, is one of the most common genetic blood disorders affecting millions of people around the world, including more than 70,000 Americans. Research presented at the 51st annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology highlights intriguing studies on the acute danger that the H1N1 pandemic presents for children with this blood disorder, evaluations of both new and standard treatments for common complications of sickle cell disease, and an expansion of the current understanding of hemoglobin expression in red blood cells that may lead to new treatments.
“Treatment for sickle cell disease consists primarily of life-long supportive care, with the only cure being bone marrow transplantation — a risky procedure that is not readily available for most patients,” said Alexis Thompson, MD, MPH, moderator of the press conference, director of Hematology Services at Children’s Memorial; Associate professor of Pediatrics at the Feinberg School; a member of the Clinical and Translational Research Program of the research center; and A. Watson and Sarah Armour Chair of Childhood Cancer and Blood Diseases. “Therefore, research in this area is particularly important to help ensure that improved therapies continue to be developed and that patients with sickle cell disease have access to the best possible care.”
Cynthia LaBella

September 1, 2009 — Chicago Sun-Times

Girls who play sports in Chicago’s public schools are getting an assist from Children’s Memorial Hospital. For the fifth year, the hospital is offering free training to city schools coaches on preventing knee injuries in female athletes by teaching them warm-up exercises that improve muscle control and coordination. Girl athletes — especially those who play basketball and soccer — are as much as six times more likely than boys to injure the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, which helps control rotation of the knee. That’s because girls “don’t seem to use their muscles as well as boys do to control their knees during sports activities,” says Dr. Cynthia LaBella, medical director of Children’s Memorial’s Institute for Sports Medicine, which is providing the training. The Knee Injury Prevention Program — called KIPP — teaches coaches and athletes a 15-minute warm-up drill that emphasizes proper alignment of the toes, knees and hips when jumping, changing directions and performing other movements on the field or on the court. The program is geared toward middle school and high school-age girls. The initial research on girls who have taken part in the program has been promising.

by Monifa Thomas, Health Reporter

Seth Corey October 6, 2009 — adapted from Northwestern News

Think of a protective fence that blocks the neighbor’s dog from charging into your backyard. The body, too, has fences — physical and biochemical barriers that keep cells in their place. When breast cancer spreads or metastasizes, it crashes through the body’s protective fences. The disease becomes fatal when it travels outside the mammary ducts, enters the bloodstream and spreads to the bones, liver or brain. Until now, drugs that try to stem the uncontrolled division of cancer cells within the ducts existed, but no drugs specifically targeted the invasion and spread of breast cancer to the organs. Seth Corey, MD, MPH has found a way to strengthen the breast’s “fence” to prevent cancer from metastasizing. He has discovered that when the leukemia drug dasatinib is combined with the breast cancer drug doxorubicin, the potent mix inhibits cell invasion by half in breast cancer cells. “This is an entirely new way of targeting a cancer cell,” said Corey. The study was recently reported in the British Journal of Cancer. Dasatinib targets an enzyme called Src kinase, which is believed to play a key role in breast cancer invasion and metastases. “Perhaps this drug could be given to prevent invasion from happening in the first place,” said Corey. “This might keep the disease in check and prevent it from progressing.” Corey is director of oncology research at Children’s Memorial Hospital, co-director of the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Program at Children’s Memorial and the Feinberg School, and a member of the Cancer Biology and Epigenomics Program of the research center. He is the Sharon B. Murphy, MD and Steven T. Rosen, MD Research Professor of Cancer Biology and Chemotherapy and a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. 

Blazowski featured in FSM Research Newsletter 
Francine Blazowski, MSW, Special Assistant to the President and Scientific Director of Children's Memorial Research Center, was profiled in the April 2009 issue of the Feinberg School's Research Newsletter.

Hendrix testifies on NIH funding before Congress
Mary J.C. Hendrix, PhD, testified before the United States Congress Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health & Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies on March 18, 2009. Dr. Hendrix represented the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research -- a coalition of more than 300 patient and voluntary health groups, medical and scientific societies, academic and research organizations, and industry. Her testimony advocated for increased funding for the National Institutes of Health in 2011 and beyond, in order to advance the new directions charted with the support of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  Read the full text of the testimony. 

See also the March 20, 2009 edition of FASEB Washington Update featuring Dr. Hendrix.



November 21, 2008 — Reuters Health 

A “distressingly high” proportion of inner-city children with asthma are exposed to cigarette smoke at levels that could be harming their health. More than two-thirds of the 8- to 14-year-olds in a study conducted by Rajesh Kumar, MD, Assistant professor of Pediatrics at the Feinberg School and attending physician in the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Children’s Memorial and colleagues, had levels of the nicotine byproduct cotinine in their saliva, demonstrating that they were breathing enough second-hand smoke to affect their asthma. Identifying caregivers of asthmatic children who are smokers and providing intense intervention to help them quit could help reduce harm from asthma in poor inner city children, the researchers conclude. The study was published in the October 2008 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Karen Sheehan November 28, 2008 — Washington Post (HealthDay News)
In response to the annual toy safety report, Trouble in Toyland, issued by the nonprofit U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), Karen Sheehan, MD, MPH, medical director of the Injury Prevention and Research Center at Children’s Memorial, and medical director of the Injury Free Coalition for Kids, thinks more must be done to protect children from dangerous toys. “For decades, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has been under-funded and lacked the resources to be proactive in screening for hazards. Parents need to carefully choose toys — especially for young children,” Sheehan said. 

A study conducted by Jill Morris, PhD during her tenure as a postdoctoral fellow at the NIH, was featured in the November 2008 issue of The Scientist. The 1997 study, published in Science, was the first to describe the NPC1 gene, which is responsible for a rare neurodegenerative disorder called Niemann-Pick Type C. As a result of this discovery, the NIH is currently conducting drug screens for the treatment of NPC and Alzheimer’s disease. Morris is Assistant professor of Pediatrics at the Feinberg School and a member of the  Human Molecular Genetics Program  of the research center.

Craig Langman

Langman's research featured on ABC 7
A Vitamin D story featuring the research of Craig B. Langman, MD, head of the Division of Kidney Diseases, aired on ABC 7 Chicago on Thursday, January 15, during the HEALTHBEAT section of the program.

Researchers put a microscope on food allergies
December 9, 2008 -- The Children's Memorial Food Allergy Project, Inc., featuring Drs. Xiaobin Wang and Jacqueline Pongracic, is the feature story in the New York Times health section.

WGN Radio's thee-part series on the growing problem of food allergies
A three-part series on food allergies featuring Jacqueline Pongracic, MD, head of the Division of Allergy and Immunology; Rachel Story, MD, Allergy and Immunology; and the Bunning Family of the Bunning Food Allergy Project based at Children’s Memorial, aired twice daily on WGN Radio April 30 - May 2. 

Hidden Wounds of Violence Deborah L. Shelton, Chicago Tribune reporter

April 28, 2008 -- In a Chicago Tribune article about violence and its effects on children in Chicago, Karen Sheehan, MD, MPH, attending physician at Children's Memorial Hospital, Medical Director of the hospital's Injury Prevention and Research Center and Injury Free Coalition for Kids, said that some of the children she sees confide that they have difficulty falling asleep because they feel afraid. She said, "Lack of sleep leads to obesity, attention-deficit disorders and other things that feed into a cycle of poor health."

Her colleague, Maryann Mason, PhD, associate director of the Child Health Data Lab at Children's Memorial Research Center, is conducting research on the physical activity levels of children ages 5 to 10 who live in five primarily low-income black and Hispanic neighborhoods in Chicago. Her team has found that the parents most likely to keep their children indoors weren't always the ones living in areas with the most crime; they were the ones who thought the crime rate was highest. "The higher the parental perception of crime, the more sedentary the kids are after school," Mason said. "It's probably true that they are keeping them inside to play video games and watch TV." 

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