Critical Care

Boy lying in a hospital bed, surrounded by medical equipment

Black, Hispanic children at greater risk for complications during hospitalization

Boy lying in a hospital bed, surrounded by medical equipment

The research team found that patients who are Black and Medicaid-insured patients experienced the greatest disparities in postoperative sepsis, a rare complication in which patients suffer from infection that can cause multi-organ failure.

Evaluating more than 5 million pediatric hospital stays nationwide, researchers found children who are Black, Hispanic or insured with Medicaid face a greater risk of health events after surgeries than white patients, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics.

“We looked at the data, and we calculated the risks,” said Kavita Parikh, M.D., MSHS, medical director of Quality & Safety Research, research director of the Division of Hospital Medicine and first author on the multi-institute study. “Despite decades of focus on eliminating medical errors, we know that children continue to suffer substantial harms in hospital settings, and our study highlights where children who are Black, Hispanic or insured with Medicaid are at the greatest risk.”

The big picture

The study analyzed data from more than 5.2 million hospitalizations collected by the 2019 Kids’ Inpatient Database, a national repository of data on hospital stays. It includes a 10% sample of newborns and an 80% sample of other pediatric discharges from 4,000 U.S. hospitals. More than 80% of patients were younger than 1 year of age.

The research team found that patients who are Black and Medicaid-insured patients experienced the greatest disparities in postoperative sepsis, a rare complication in which patients suffer from infection that can cause multi-organ failure. Patients who are Hispanic experienced the greatest disparity in postoperative respiratory failure, a complication that can limit breathing and ventilation.

Plausible factors cited include structural racism in the U.S. healthcare system, clinician bias, insufficient cultural responsiveness, communication barriers and limited access to high-quality healthcare.

What’s ahead

The study – “Disparities in Racial, Ethnic, and Payor Groups for Pediatric Safety Events in U.S. Hospitals” – is foundational in understanding what is happening among pediatric patients. Dr. Parikh said that researchers now must conduct further studies into these alarming disparities and qualitative work to understand drivers, with the action-oriented goal of developing interventions to improve patient safety in the hospital for all children.

“We brought together leaders in pediatric medicine, health policy and public health to analyze this data, and we are committed to taking the next steps to improve outcomes for pediatric patients,” Dr. Parikh said. “It will take more patient-centered work and research, resources and multifaceted strategies to resolve these worrying disparities for our pediatric patients nationwide.”

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Children’s National in the News: 2023

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Explore some of the notable medical advancements and stories of bravery that defined 2023, showcasing the steadfast commitment of healthcare professionals at Children’s National Hospital and the resilient spirit of the children they support. Delve into our 2023 news highlights for more.

1. COVID during pregnancy dramatically increases the risk of complications and maternal death, large new study finds

According to a study published in British Medical Journal Global Health, women who get COVID during pregnancy are nearly eight times more likely to die and face a significantly elevated risk of ICU admission and pneumonia. Sarah Mulkey, M.D., prenatal-neonatologist neurologist, discussed findings based on her work with pregnant women and their babies.

2. Rest isn’t necessarily best for concussion recovery in children, study says

A study led by Christopher Vaughan, Psy.D., pediatric neuropsychologist, suggests that — despite what many people may presume — getting kids back to school quickly is the best way to boost their chance for a rapid recovery after a concussion.

3. Pediatric hospital beds are in high demand for ailing children. Here’s why

David Wessel, M.D., executive vice president, chief medical officer and physician-in-chief, explained that one reason parents were still having trouble getting their children beds in a pediatric hospital or a pediatric unit after the fall 2022 respiratory surge is that pediatric hospitals are paid less by insurance.

4. Anisha Abraham details impact of social media use on children: ‘True mental health crisis’

Anisha Abraham, M.D., M.P.H., chief of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, joined America’s Newsroom to discuss the impact social media access has had on children’s mental health.
(FOX News)

5. Saving Antonio: Can a renowned hospital keep a boy from being shot again?

After 13-year-old Antonio was nearly killed outside his mom’s apartment, Children’s National Hospital went beyond treating his bullet wounds. Read how our Youth Violence Intervention Program team supported him and his family during his recovery.
(The Washington Post)

6. Formerly conjoined twins reunite with doctors who separated them

Erin and Jade Buckles underwent a successful separation at Children’s National Hospital. Nearly 20 years later they returned to meet with some of the medical staff who helped make it happen.
(Good Morning America)

7. Asthma mortality rates differ by location, race/ethnicity, age

Shilpa Patel, M.D., M.P.H., medical director of the Children’s National IMPACT DC Asthma Clinic, weighed in on a letter published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, asserting that the disparities in mortality due to asthma in the United States vary based on whether they occurred in a hospital, ethnicity or race and age of the patient.

8. How one Afghan family made the perilous journey across the U.S.-Mexico border

After one family embarked on a perilous journey from Afghanistan through Mexico to the U.S.-Mexico border, they eventually secured entry to the U.S. where Karen Smith, M.D., medical director of Global Services, aided the family’s transition and provided their daughter with necessary immediate medical treatment.

9. When a child is shot, doctors must heal more than just bullet holes

With the number of young people shot by guns on the rise in the U.S., providers and staff at Children’s National Hospital are trying to break the cycle of violence. But it’s not just the physical wounds though that need treating: young victims may also need help getting back on the right track — whether that means enrolling in school, finding a new group of friends or getting a job.
(BBC News)

10. This 6-year-old is a pioneer in the quest to treat a deadly brain tumor

Callie, a 6-year-old diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, was treated with low-intensity focused ultrasound (LIFU) at Children’s National Hospital and is the second child in the world to receive this treatment for a brain tumor. LIFU is an emerging technology that experts like Hasan Syed, M.D., and Adrianna Fonseca, M.D., are trialing to treat this fatal childhood brain tumor.
(The Washington Post)

11. F.D.A. approves sickle cell treatments, including one that uses CRISPR

The FDA approved a new genetic therapy, giving people with sickle cell disease new opportunities to eliminate their symptoms. David Jacobsohn, M.B.A., M.D., confirmed that Children’s National Hospital is one of the authorized treatment centers and talked about giving priority to the sickest patients if they are on Vertex’s list.
(The New York Times)

12. 6-year-old fulfils wish to dance in the Nutcracker

After the potential need for open-heart surgery threatened Caroline’s Nutcracker performance, Manan Desai, M.D., a cardiac surgeon, figured out a less invasive procedure to help reduce her recovery time so she could perform in time for the holidays.
(Good Morning America)

2023 with a lightbulb

The best of 2023 from Innovation District

2023 with a lightbulbAdvanced MRI visualization techniques to follow blood flow in the hearts of cardiac patients. Gene therapy for pediatric patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. 3D-printed casts for treating clubfoot. These were among the most popular articles we published on Innovation District in 2023. Read on for our full list.

1. Advanced MRI hopes to improve outcomes for Fontan cardiac patients

Cardiac imaging specialists and cardiac surgeons at Children’s National Hospital are applying advanced magnetic resonance imaging visualization techniques to understand the intricacies of blood flow within the heart chambers of children with single ventricle heart defects like hypoplastic left heart syndrome. The data allows surgeons to make critical corrections to the atrioventricular valve before a child undergoes the single ventricle procedure known as the Fontan.
(3 min. read)

2. Children’s National gives first commercial dose of new FDA-approved gene therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Children’s National Hospital became the first pediatric hospital to administer a commercial dose of Elevidys (delandistrogene moxeparvovec-rokl), the first gene therapy for the treatment of pediatric patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Elevidys is a one-time intravenous gene therapy that aims to delay or halt the progression of DMD by delivering a modified, functional version of dystrophin to muscle cells.
(2 min. read)

3. New model to treat Becker Muscular Dystrophy

Researchers at Children’s National Hospital developed a pre-clinical model to test drugs and therapies for Becker Muscular Dystrophy (BMD), a debilitating neuromuscular disease that is growing in numbers and lacks treatment options. The work provides scientists with a much-needed method to identify, develop and de-risk drugs for patients with BMD.
(2 min. read)

4. First infants in the U.S. with specially modified pacemakers show excellent early outcomes

In 2022, five newborns with life-threatening congenital heart disease affecting their heart rhythms were the first in the United States to receive a novel modified pacemaker generator to stabilize their heart rhythms within days of birth. Two of the five cases were cared for at Children’s National Hospital. In a follow-up article, the team at Children’s National shared that “early post-operative performance of this device has been excellent.”
(2 min. read)

5. AI: The “single greatest tool” for improving access to pediatric healthcare

Experts from the Food and Drug Administration, Pfizer, Oracle Health, NVIDIA, AWS Health and elsewhere came together to discuss how pediatric specialties can use AI to provide medical care to kids more efficiently, more quickly and more effectively at the inaugural symposium on AI in Pediatric Health and Rare Diseases, hosted by Children’s National Hospital and the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech.
(3 min. read)

6. AAP names Children’s National gun violence study one of the most influential articles ever published

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) named a 2019 study led by clinician-researchers at Children’s National Hospital one of the 12 most influential Pediatric Emergency Medicine articles ever published in the journal Pediatrics. The findings showed that states with stricter gun laws and laws requiring universal background checks for gun purchases had lower firearm-related pediatric mortality rates but that more investigation was needed to better understand the impact of firearm legislation on pediatric mortality.
(2 min. read)

7. Why a colorectal transition program matters

Children’s National Hospital recently welcomed pediatric and adult colorectal surgeon Erin Teeple, M.D., to the Division of Colorectal and Pelvic Reconstruction. Dr. Teeple is the only person in the United States who is board-certified as both a pediatric surgeon and adult colorectal surgeon, uniquely positioning her to care for people with both acquired and congenital colorectal disease and help them transition from pediatric care to adult caregivers.
(3 min. read)

8. First-of-its-kind holistic program for managing pain in sickle cell disease

The sickle cell team at Children’s National Hospital received a grant from the Founders Auxiliary Board to launch a first-of-its-kind, personalized holistic transformative program for the management of pain in sickle cell disease. The clinic uses an inter-disciplinary approach of hematology, psychology, psychiatry, anesthesiology/pain medicine, acupuncture, mindfulness, relaxation and aromatherapy services.
(3 min read)

9. Recommendations for management of positive monosomy X on cell-free DNA screening

Non-invasive prenatal testing using cell-free DNA (cfDNA) is currently offered to all pregnant women regardless of the fetal risk. In a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, researchers from Children’s National Hospital provided context and expert recommendations for maternal and fetal evaluation and management when cfDNA screening is positive for monosomy X or Turner Syndrome.
(2 min. read)

10. Innovation in clubfoot management using 3D anatomical mapping

While clubfoot is relatively common and the treatment is highly successful, the weekly visits required for Ponseti casting can be a significant burden on families. Researchers at Children’s National Hospital are looking for a way to relieve that burden with a new study that could eliminate the weekly visits with a series of 3D-printed casts that families can switch out at home.
(1 min. read)

11. Gender Self-Report seeks to capture the gender spectrum for broad research applications

A new validated self-report tool provides researchers with a way to characterize the gender of research participants beyond their binary designated sex at birth. The multi-dimensional Gender Self-Report, developed using a community-driven approach and then scientifically validated, was outlined in a peer-reviewed article in the American Psychologist, a journal of the American Psychological Association.
(2 min. read)

12. Cardiovascular and bone diseases in chronic kidney disease

In a study published by Advances in Chronic Kidney Disease, a team at Children’s National Hospital reviewed cardiovascular and bone diseases in chronic kidney disease and end-stage kidney disease patients with a focus on pediatric issues and concerns.
(1 min. read)

father touching newborn baby's head

Modified aquapheresis for the smallest patients in intensive care

father touching newborn baby's head

To date, four patients have benefited from modified aquapheresis at Children’s National in both the PICU and the CICU.

The Division of Nephrology at Children’s National Hospital now offers modified aquapheresis for the smallest patients with acute kidney injury or chronic kidney disease in intensive care units. Aadil Kakajiwala, M.D., MSCI, director of Pediatric Acute Kidney Support Therapies, has been the leader in establishing modified aquapheresis at Children’s National. He joined the faculty at Children’s National in 2021 after completing his pediatric nephrology fellowship at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and pediatric critical care medicine fellowship at Children’s National.

To date, four patients have benefited from modified aquapheresis at Children’s National in both the PICU and the CICU. Dialysis equipment designed for adults has filter set volumes as high as 165ml. Since implementing modified aquapheresis, the new equipment’s filter set volume is just 35ml, making it a great option for dialyzing small patients as low as 1.8kg. This limits blood exposure to the patient and overcomes the limitation of obtaining larger vascular access by using a PICC line.

Dr. Kakajiwala looks to continue training nephrologists, intensive care unit providers and staff across the hospital on modified aquapheresis. “This new offering allows us to offer dialysis to our smallest patients. By utilizing modified aquapheresis, we ensure simultaneous removal of waste products along with fluid removal during the therapy,” says Dr. Kakajiwala. He hopes to work on standardizing all forms of renal replacement therapy offered at Children’s National across all care providers.

ARPA-H logo

Children’s National selected as member of ARPA-H Investor Catalyst Hub spoke network

ARPA-H logoThe hospital will advocate for the unique needs of children as part of nationwide network working to accelerate transformative health solutions.

Children’s National Hospital was selected as a spoke for the Investor Catalyst Hub, a regional hub of ARPANET-H, a nationwide health innovation network launched by the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H).

The Investor Catalyst Hub seeks to accelerate the commercialization of groundbreaking and accessible biomedical solutions. It uses an innovative hub-and-spoke model designed to reach a wide range of nonprofit organizations and Minority-Serving Institutions, with the aim of delivering scalable healthcare outcomes for all Americans.

“The needs of children often differ significantly from those of adults. This partnership reflects our commitment to advancing pediatric healthcare through innovation and making sure we’re addressing those needs effectively,” said Kolaleh Eskandanian, Ph.D., M.B.A., vice president and chief innovation officer at Children’s National. “Leveraging the strength of this hub-and-spoke model, we anticipate delivering transformative solutions to enhance the health and well-being of the patients and families we serve.”

Children’s National joins a dynamic nationwide network of organizations aligned to ARPA-H’s overarching mission to improve health outcomes through the following research focus areas: health science futures, proactive health, scalable solutions and resilient systems. Investor Catalyst Hub spokes represent a broad spectrum of expertise, geographic diversity and community perspectives.

“Our spoke network embodies a rich and representative range of perspectives and expertise,” said Mark Marino, vice president of Growth Strategy and Development for VentureWell and project director for the Investor Catalyst Hub. “Our spokes comprise a richly diverse network that will be instrumental in ensuring that equitable health solutions reach communities across every state and tribal nation.”

As an Investor Catalyst Hub spoke, Children’s National gains access to potential funding and flexible contracting for faster award execution compared to traditional government contracts. Spoke membership also offers opportunities to provide input on ARPA-H challenge areas and priorities, along with access to valuable networking opportunities and a robust resource library.

AAP conference logo

Children’s National Hospital at the 2023 American Academy of Pediatrics meeting

There will be over 20 Children’s National Hospital-affiliated participants at this year’s American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition. The meeting will take place in Washington, D.C., from October 20 – October 24. We have compiled their sessions into a mini schedule below.


Date Time Presenter Title Division
10/20/2023 8:30 AM Vanessa Madrigal, M.D., M.S.C.E. Section on Cardiology & Cardiac Surgery Program: Day 1 Critical Care
10/20/2023 2:30 PM Kibileri Williams, M.B.B.S Appy Hour: a Current Update on Pediatric Appendicitis Surgery
10/20/2023 3:30 PM Roopa Kanakatti Shankar, M.D., M.S. Precocious Puberty: Puberty Suppression or Not? Endocrinology
10/21/2023 7:30 AM Allison Markowsky, M.D. What is Trending in the Newborn Nursery: Controversies and Evidence Hospital Medicine
10/21/2023 8:00 AM Jessica Herstek, M.D. Joint Program: Council on Clinical Information Technology and Council on Quality Improvement and Patient Safety Medical Informatics
10/21/2023 8:00 AM Nazrat Mirza, M.D., Sc.D. Section on Obesity Program IDEAL Clinic (Obesity Program)
10/21/2023 8:00 AM Hans Pohl, M.D. Section on Urology Program: Day 2 Urology
10/21/2023 9:00 AM Anil Darbari, M.D., M.B.B.S., M.B.A. Constipation: Getting it to Work Out in the End Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition
10/21/2023 9:00 AM Kibileri Williams, M.B.B.S Appy Hour: a Current Update on Pediatric Appendicitis Surgery
10/21/2023 1:30 PM Olanrewaju (Lanre) Falusi, M.D. Educational Program and Annual Assembly for Medical Students, Residents, and Fellowship Trainees Pediatrician
10/21/2023 2:00 PM Brian Reilly, M.D. Noise 201 – More than Headphones! Otolaryngology
10/21/2023 2:00 PM Erin Teeple, M.D. Hernias, Hydroceles, and Undescended Testicles: When to Wait and When to Operate Surgeon
10/21/2023 3:30 PM Amanda Stewart, M.D. Section on Emergency Medicine Program: Day 2 Emergency Medicine
10/21/2023 3:30 PM Shideh Majidi, M.D., M.S.C.S. Healthcare Disparities in Management of Type 1 Diabetes and Diabetes Technology Endocrinology
10/21/2023 3:30 PM Natasha Shur, M.D. Genetic Testing Boot Camp Geneticist (RDI)
10/21/2023 5:00 PM Danielle Dooley, M.D., M.Phil Connecting School Systems and Health Systems: Successes and Opportunities Pediatrician
10/22/2023 8:00 AM Jaytoya Manget, DNP, FNP Pediatricians and School Attendance: Innovative Approaches to Prevent Chronic Absenteeism
10/22/2023 8:00 AM Simone Lawson, M.D. Section on Emergency Medicine Program: Day 3 Emergency Medicine
10/22/2023 8:00 AM Hans Pohl, M.D. Section on Urology Program: Day 3 Urology
10/22/2023 1:00 PM Lenore Jarvis, M.D., M.Ed. Section on Early Career Physicians Program
10/22/2023 5:00 PM Brian Reilly, M.D. Pediatric Hearing Loss: What’s New in Diagnostics, Prevention and Treatments Otolaryngology
10/23/2023 8:00 AM Rosemary Thomas-Mohtat, M.D. Point-of-Care Ultrasound Fundamentals Course Emergency Medicine
10/23/2023 9:00 AM Matthew Oetgen, M.D., M.B.A. Section on Radiology Program: Imaging Diagnosis and Management of Osteoarticular Infections Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine
10/23/2023 9:00 AM Christina Feng, M.D. Masses for the Masses: Abdominal Masses in Children Surgeon
10/23/2023 9:00 AM Narendra Shet, M.D. Section on Radiology Program: Imaging Diagnosis and Management of Osteoarticular Infections Radiology
10/23/2023 9:00 AM Shireen Atabaki, M.D., M.P.H. Section on Advances in Therapeutics and Technology Program Telemedicine
10/23/2023 1:00 PM Brian Reilly, M.D. Pediatric Otolaryngology: Back to Basics Otolaryngology
10/23/2023 1:00 PM Sonali Basu, M.D. Point-of-Care Ultrasound Critical Competency Course CCM
10/23/2023 1:00 PM Vanessa Madrigal, M.D. Joint Program: Section on Bioethics, Section on LGBT Health and Wellness and Section on Minority Health, Equity, and Inclusion Critical Care
10/23/2023 2:00 PM Rebecca Persky, M.D. Menstrual Disorders: Primary or Secondary Amenorrhea Endocrinology
10/23/2023 5:00 PM Christina Feng, M.D. Masses for the Masses: Abdominal Masses in Children Surgeon
10/24/2023 9:00 AM Vanessa Madrigal, M.D. Section Showcase: Applying Ethics Principles and Tools To Advocate for Vulnerable Populations Critical Care


healthcare workers putting on PPE

“Mask up!” Soon, AI may be prompting healthcare workers

Researchers at Children’s National Hospital are embarking on an effort to deploy computer vision and artificial intelligence (AI) to ensure medical professionals appropriately use personal protective equipment (PPE). This strikingly common problem touches almost every medical specialty and setting.

With nearly $2.2 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health, the team is combining their expertise with information scientists at Drexel University and engineers at Rutgers University to build a system that will alert doctors, nurses and other medical professionals of mistakes in how they are wearing their PPE. The goal is to better protect healthcare workers (HCWs) from dangerous viruses and bacteria that they may encounter — an issue laid bare with the COVID-19 pandemic and PPE shortages.

“If any kind of healthcare setting says they don’t have a problem with PPE non-adherence, it’s because they’re not monitoring it,” said Randall Burd, M.D., Ph.D., division chief of Trauma and Burn Surgery at Children’s National and the principal investigator on the project. “We need to solve this problem, so the medical community will be prepared for the next potential disaster that we might face.”

The big picture

The World Health Organization has estimated that between 80,000 and 180,000 HCWs died globally from COVID-19 between January 2020 and May 2021 — an irreplaceable loss of life that created significant gaps in the pandemic response. Research has shown that HCWs had an 11-fold greater infection risk than the workers in other professions, and those who were not wearing appropriate PPE had a 1/3 higher infection risk, compared to peers who followed best practices.

Burd said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that hospitals task observers to stand in the corner with a clipboard to watch clinicians work and confirm that they are being mindful of their PPE. However, “that’s just not scalable,” he said. “You can’t always have someone watching, especially when you may have 50 people in and out of an operating room on a challenging case. On top of that, the observers are generally trained clinicians who could be filling other roles.”

What’s ahead

Bringing together the engineering talents at Drexel and Rutgers with the clinical and machine-learning expertise at Children’s National, the researchers plan to build a computer-vision system that will watch whether HCWs are properly wearing PPE such as gloves, masks, eyewear, gowns and shoe covers.

The team is contemplating how the system will alert HCWs to any errors and is considering haptic watch alerts and other types of immediate feedback. The emerging power of AI brings tremendous advantages over the current, human-driven systems, said Marius George Linguraru, D.Phil., M.A., M.Sc., the Connor Family Professor in Research and Innovation at Children’s National and principal investigator in the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation.

“Human observers only have one pair of eyes and may fatigue or get distracted,” Linguraru said. “Yet artificial intelligence, and computers in general, work without getting tired. We are excited to figure out how a computer can do this work – without ever blinking.”

Children’s National Hospital leads the way

Linguraru says that Children’s National and its partners make up the ideal team to tackle this vexing challenge because of their ability to assemble a multidisciplinary team of scientists and engineers who can work together with clinicians. “This is a dialogue,” he said. “A computer scientist, like myself, needs to understand the intricacies of complicated clinical realities, while a clinician needs to understand how AI can impact the practice of medicine. The team we are bringing together is intentional and poised to fix this problem.”

Attendees at the inaugural symposium on AI in Pediatric Health and Rare Diseases

AI: The “single greatest tool” for improving access to pediatric healthcare

Attendees at the inaugural symposium on AI in Pediatric Health and Rare Diseases

The daylong event drew experts from the Food and Drug Administration, Pfizer, Oracle Health, NVIDIA, AWS Health and elsewhere to start building a community aimed at using data for the advancement of pediatric medicine.

The future of pediatric medicine holds the promise of artificial intelligence (AI) that can help diagnose rare diseases, provide roadmaps for safer surgeries, tap into predictive technologies to guide individual treatment plans and shrink the distance between patients in rural areas and specialty care providers.

These and dozens of other innovations were contemplated as scientists came together at the inaugural symposium on AI in Pediatric Health and Rare Diseases, hosted by Children’s National Hospital and the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech. The daylong event drew experts from the Food and Drug Administration, Pfizer, Oracle Health, NVIDIA, AWS Health and elsewhere to start building a community aimed at using data for the advancement of pediatric medicine.

“AI is the single greatest tool for improving equity and access to health care,” said symposium host Marius George Linguraru, D.Phil., M.A., M.Sc., principal investigator at the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation. “As a population, kids are vastly underrepresented in scientific research and resulting treatments, but pediatric specialties can use AI to provide medical care to kids more efficiently, more quickly and more effectively.”

What they’re saying

Scientists shared their progress in building digital twins to predict surgical outcomes, enhancing visualization to increase the precision of delicate interventions, establishing data command centers to anticipate risks for fragile patients and more. Over two dozen speakers shared their vision for the future of medicine, augmented by the power of AI:

  • Keynote speaker Subha Madhavan, Ph.D., vice president and head of AI and machine learning at Pfizer, discussed various use cases and the potential to bring drugs to market faster using real-world evidence and AI. She saw promise for pediatrics. “This is probably the most engaging mission: children’s health and rare diseases,” she said. “It’s hard to find another mission that’s as compelling.”
  • Brandon J. Nelson, Ph.D., staff fellow in the Division of Imaging, Diagnostics and Software Reliability at the Food and Drug Administration, shared ways AI will improve diagnostic imaging and reduce radiation exposure to patients, using more advanced image reconstruction and denoising techniques. “That is really our key take-home message,” he said. “We can get what … appear as higher dose images, but with less dose.”
  • Daniel Donoho, M.D., a neurosurgeon at Children’s National, introduced the audience to the potential of “Smart ORs”: operating rooms where systems can ingest surgery video and provide feedback and skill assessments. “We have to transform the art of surgery into a measurable and improvable scientific practice,” he said.
  • Debra Regier, M.D., chief of Genetics and Metabolism at Children’s National, discussed how AI could be used to diagnose and treat rare diseases by conducting deep dives into genetics and studying dysmorphisms in patients’ faces. Already, Children’s National has designed an app – mGene – that measures facial features and provides a risk score to help anyone in general practice determine if a child has a genetic condition. “The untrained eye can stay the untrained eye, and the family can continue to have faith in their provider,” she said.

What’s next

Linguraru and others stressed the need to design AI for kids, rather than borrow it from adults, to ensure medicine meets their unique needs. He noted that scientists will need to solve challenges, such as the lack of data inherent in rare pediatric disorders and the simple fact that children grow. “Children are not mini-adults,” Linguraru said. “There are big changes in a child’s life.”

The landscape will require thoughtfulness. Naren Ramakrishnan, Ph.D., director of the Sanghani Center for Artificial Intelligence & Analytics at Virginia Tech and symposium co-host, said that scientists are heading into an era with a new incarnation of public-private partnerships, but many questions remain about how data will be shared and organizations will connect. “It is not going to be business as usual, but what is this new business?” he asked.

U.S. News Badges

Children’s National Hospital ranked #5 in the nation on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll

U.S. News BadgesChildren’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., was ranked #5 in the nation on the U.S. News & World Report 2023-24 Best Children’s Hospitals annual rankings. This marks the seventh straight year Children’s National has made the Honor Roll list. The Honor Roll is a distinction awarded to only 10 children’s hospitals nationwide.

For the thirteenth straight year, Children’s National also ranked in all 10 specialty services, with eight specialties ranked in the top 10 nationally. In addition, the hospital was ranked best in the Mid-Atlantic for neonatology, cancer, neurology and neurosurgery.

“Even from a team that is now a fixture on the list of the very best children’s hospitals in the nation, these results are phenomenal,” said Kurt Newman, M.D., president and chief executive officer of Children’s National. “It takes a ton of dedication and sacrifice to provide the best care anywhere and I could not be prouder of the team. Their commitment to excellence is in their DNA and will continue long after I retire as CEO later this month.”

“Congratulations to the entire Children’s National team on these truly incredible results. They leave me further humbled by the opportunity to lead this exceptional organization and contribute to its continued success,” said Michelle Riley-Brown, MHA, FACHE, who becomes the new president and CEO of Children’s National on July 1. “I am deeply committed to fostering a culture of collaboration, empowering our talented teams and charting a bold path forward to provide best in class pediatric care. Our focus will always remain on the kids.”

“I am incredibly proud of Kurt and the entire team. These rankings help families know that when they come to Children’s National, they’re receiving the best care available in the country,” said Horacio Rozanski, chair of the board of directors of Children’s National. “I’m confident that the organization’s next leader, Michelle Riley-Brown, will continue to ensure Children’s National is always a destination for excellent care.”

The annual rankings are the most comprehensive source of quality-related information on U.S. pediatric hospitals and recognizes the nation’s top 50 pediatric hospitals based on a scoring system developed by U.S. News.

“For 17 years, U.S. News has provided information to help parents of sick children and their doctors find the best children’s hospital to treat their illness or condition,” said Ben Harder, chief of health analysis and managing editor at U.S. News. “Children’s hospitals that are on the Honor Roll transcend in providing exceptional specialized care.”

The bulk of the score for each specialty service is based on quality and outcomes data. The process includes a survey of relevant specialists across the country, who are asked to list hospitals they believe provide the best care for patients with the most complex conditions.

The eight Children’s National specialty services that U.S. News ranked in the top 10 nationally are:

The other two specialties ranked among the top 50 were cardiology and heart surgery, and urology.

Panel members at the NIAID symposium

CN-NIAID Symposium seeks ways to promote child health amid challenges

Panel members at the NIAID symposium

More than 30 million children seek emergency care each year, but 80 percent of these visits happen at hospitals that aren’t designed for pediatrics — a daunting figure during pandemics and other crises in healthcare. This considerable hurdle is one of many challenges that leaders in pediatric health came to discuss during a two-day symposium on promoting child health, hosted by Children’s National Hospital, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Pediatric Pandemic Network (PPN).

The symposium laid out a multitude of issues facing children and their doctors: growing mental health diagnoses, shrinking access to care in rural areas, asthma and eczema, winter respiratory surges and more.

Joelle Simpson, M.D., chief of emergency medicine at Children’s National and PPN principal investigator, said the network is drawing on expertise from 10 pediatric hospitals to ensure communities are better prepared for whatever challenges lie ahead, through training and support, collaboration among pediatric specialists, education on best practices and the promotion of equity and inclusion.

Built on a Health Resources and Services Administration grant, the network is focusing on four key areas: infectious disease and disease outbreaks, emergency and disaster management, mental and behavioral health, and health equity and community engagement. “This year, we know we are boiling the ocean as we come together,” Simpson said.

Miss the symposium? Check out the recordings available on YouTube, including the closing Q&A with many of the panelists and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, health policy reporter with the New York Times.

Day 1 of the 6th Annual Children’s National Hospital – NIAID Symposium

Day 2 of the 6th Annual Children’s National Hospital – NIAID Symposium


Screen grab of Dr. Terry Dean and Dr. Vittorio Gallo webinar

In the News: Regenerative brain cells and the circadian clock

Screen grab of Dr. Terry Dean and Dr. Vittorio Gallo webinar

“I am a pediatric intensivist, and I am very interested in some of the pathologies and conditions that I come across in the ICU. We hatched this question that revolved around the idea: what can we do for TBI (traumatic brain injury) patients to enhance their cellular regeneration? …  We looked at NG2-glia in particular, otherwise known as oligodendrocyte precursor cells. They are about 2-8% of the brain…. Do these cells respond to sleep and circadian rhythm? Is it a factor? Does it help? Does it hurt?”

Find out more about what Terry Dean, M.D., Ph.D., says he has learned about these and other questions through his recent research with interim Chief Academic Officer Vittorio Gallo, Ph.D. They join the Society for Neuroscience in a webinar on the circadian rhythms of these important brain cells and how their regeneration may be used someday to promote healing after brain injuries.

glial cells

Future TBI treatments may hinge on understanding a new cell type

glial cells

Only recently have investigators begun to understand how a cell type – the NG2-glia – may respond to injuries, offering clues into the brain’s healing and regeneration.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) afflicts 69 million people, including 630,000 children, worldwide each year. Yet only recently have investigators begun to understand how a cell type – the NG2-glia – may respond to injuries, offering clues into the brain’s healing and regeneration.

In a new paper published in GLIA, investigators from Children’s National Hospital reviewed 25 years of neuroscience research to lay out what’s known about the molecular response of these NG2-glia cells after TBI. Researchers said they see “a seductive possibility” that tapping into the regenerative potential of NG2-glia cells after neurotrauma could lead to therapies in the future. The impact could be profound, given that TBI is the leading cause of death among all people ages 1-44 and the global cost of this ‘silent epidemic’ is estimated to top $102 billion annually.

What they’re saying

“Our review lays out what’s known about these fascinating cells,” said Terry Dean, M.D., Ph.D., critical care specialist at Children’s National and investigator at the Center for Neuroscience Research (CNR). “NG2-glia are found throughout the brain, and we know that these cells undergo several dynamic changes in the hours, days and weeks after TBI. They are unique, and we want to understand their molecular characteristics to eventually enhance patients’ cellular recovery after TBI.”

Although only encompassing 4% to 8% of brain cells, these NG2-glia cells make up the largest population of regenerative cells in the adult central nervous system. In their article, Dean and Vittorio Gallo, Ph.D., Children’s National Research Institute interim director, lay out a number of unique features of these cells:

  • They proliferate, or multiply, and can form different cell types, especially after brain injuries.
  • They are structurally dynamic and can move and migrate throughout the cortex, including toward injury sites.
  • They appear to play a role in cell-to-cell signaling, which may prove vital after injuries.

The big picture

“As we study the brain after injuries, we hope our work will reveal the role these NG2-glia cells play in recovery, driving us to possible therapies,” Gallo said. “We believe the big answers will come through understanding the brain on a molecular level. This type of deep investigation is the foundation of our bench-to-bedside approach and positions researchers like Dr. Dean to find answers for our patients.”

Moving the field forward

Researchers have only begun to unlock how NG2-glia respond to injury, making this a fruitful area for research. Gallo, Dean and others at CNR hope to build on their knowledge about what happens to the brain immediately after an injury to learn more about what happens months after a debilitating impact. They are also considering new types of research models to expand their knowledge about cellular destruction, immune interaction and blood vessel compromise after different types of brain injuries.

“We look forward to the day when we have a truly targeted therapy for TBI patients,” Dean said. “Imagine the relief this could provide patients suffering from the persistent physical, cognitive and psychological disabilities that often accompany these brain injuries.”

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden tour the telehealth command center at Children's National Hospital

President Biden, First Lady tour cardiac telehealth command center

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden paid a recent visit to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) at Children’s National Hospital, where leaders of our cardiology services toured them through the state-of-the-art telehealth command center embedded on the unit.

The big picture

Children’s National is pioneering the integration of telemedicine into CICU care. It’s one of the few pediatric hospitals in the world to do this.

Experts liken the telehealth command center to an ‘air traffic control tower’ for the most vulnerable patients with critical heart disease. The President and First Lady saw how complex the environment is, with real-time monitoring of all 26 high-risk patients in the CICU. The system combines traditional remote monitoring, video surveillance and artificial intelligence tools.

What this means

“With this technology, we’re helping to predict and prevent major adverse events,” said Ricardo Munoz, M.D., executive director of the Telemedicine Program and chief of the Division of Critical Care Medicine at Children’s National. “For example, our neuromonitoring system can help signal an impending brain injury before it happens.”

Dr. Munoz says President Biden expressed interest in the prevention strategy of adverse events and this new approach to caring for children with critical cardiac illness.

What they’re saying

  • “It was important to share with the Biden’s that caring for these kids is a long-term endeavor, not simply a single surgery or procedure to fix their heart abnormality,” said Yves d’Udekem, M.D., Ph.D., chief of Cardiac Surgery at Children’s National. “That means making sure they have the earliest diagnoses, the best treatments from surgeons and others who truly understand their condition, and a technologically advanced, attentive place to recover and heal as safely as possible.”
  • “Many people don’t believe that ‘pediatrics’ and ‘innovation’ can co-exist,” said Annette Ansong, M.D., medical director of Outpatient Cardiology at Children’s National. “During the Biden’s visit, they were at the crux of a novel way to closely monitor some of our sickest children with the added ability to predict bad events before they happen.”

Dr. Ansong hopes bringing awareness of these cardiac capabilities to the President and First Lady is the first of many steps in seeking support for children with congenital and acquired heart disease.

Abstract Happy 2022 New Year greeting card with light bulb

The best of 2022 from Innovation District

Abstract Happy 2022 New Year greeting card with light bulbA clinical trial testing a new drug to increase growth in children with short stature. The first ever high-intensity focused ultrasound procedure on a pediatric patient with neurofibromatosis. A low dose gene therapy vector that restores the ability of injured muscle fibers to repair. These were among the most popular articles we published on Innovation District in 2022. Read on for our full top 10 list.

1. Vosoritide shows promise for children with certain genetic growth disorders

Preliminary results from a phase II clinical trial at Children’s National Hospital showed that a new drug, vosoritide, can increase growth in children with certain growth disorders. This was the first clinical trial in the world testing vosoritide in children with certain genetic causes of short stature.
(2 min. read)

2. Children’s National uses HIFU to perform first ever non-invasive brain tumor procedure

Children’s National Hospital successfully performed the first ever high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) non-invasive procedure on a pediatric patient with neurofibromatosis. This was the youngest patient to undergo HIFU treatment in the world.
(3 min. read)

3. Gene therapy offers potential long-term treatment for limb-girdle muscular dystrophy 2B

Using a single injection of a low dose gene therapy vector, researchers at Children’s National restored the ability of injured muscle fibers to repair in a way that reduced muscle degeneration and enhanced the functioning of the diseased muscle.
(3 min. read)

4. Catherine Bollard, M.D., M.B.Ch.B., selected to lead global Cancer Grand Challenges team

A world-class team of researchers co-led by Catherine Bollard, M.D., M.B.Ch.B., director of the Center for Cancer and Immunology Research at Children’s National, was selected to receive a $25m Cancer Grand Challenges award to tackle solid tumors in children.
(4 min. read)

5. New telehealth command center redefines hospital care

Children’s National opened a new telehealth command center that uses cutting-edge technology to keep continuous watch over children with critical heart disease. The center offers improved collaborative communication to better help predict and prevent major events, like cardiac arrest.
(2 min. read)

6. Monika Goyal, M.D., recognized as the first endowed chair of Women in Science and Health

Children’s National named Monika Goyal, M.D., M.S.C.E., associate chief of Emergency Medicine, as the first endowed chair of Women in Science and Health (WISH) for her outstanding contributions in biomedical research.
(2 min. read)

7. Brain tumor team performs first ever LIFU procedure on pediatric DIPG patient

A team at Children’s National performed the first treatment with sonodynamic therapy utilizing low intensity focused ultrasound (LIFU) and 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA) medication on a pediatric patient. The treatment was done noninvasively through an intact skull.
(3 min. read)

8. COVID-19’s impact on pregnant women and their babies

In an editorial, Roberta L. DeBiasi, M.D., M.S., provided a comprehensive review of what is known about the harmful effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnant women themselves, the effects on their newborns, the negative impact on the placenta and what still is unknown amid the rapidly evolving field.
(2 min. read)

9. Staged surgical hybrid strategy changes outcome for baby born with HLHS

Doctors at Children’s National used a staged, hybrid cardiac surgical strategy to care for a patient who was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) at 28-weeks-old. Hybrid heart procedures blend traditional surgery and a minimally invasive interventional, or catheter-based, procedure.
(4 min. read)

10. 2022: Pediatric colorectal and pelvic reconstructive surgery today

In a review article in Seminars in Pediatric Surgery, Marc Levitt, M.D., chief of the Division of Colorectal and Pelvic Reconstruction at Children’s National, discussed the history of pediatric colorectal and pelvic reconstructive surgery and described the key advances that have improved patients’ lives.
(11 min. read)

RFP collage of logos

Healthcare leaders join to advance pediatric innovation

RFP collage of logosChildren’s National Hospital and the National Capital Consortium for Pediatric Device Innovation (NCC-PDI) have opened a request for proposal to solicit companies interested in obtaining pediatric labeling for medical devices that may address an unmet need in the pediatric population and that already have clearance or approval for adult use by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). The objective of this program is to generate the real-world evidence (RWE) needed to facilitate the pediatric regulatory pathway for U.S. market clearance. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. EST on Feb. 9. To learn more and apply, visit

Instead of assessing medical devices based on data derived from clinical trials, this pioneering initiative is focused on leveraging real-world data (RWD) that can be translated into RWE to gain FDA clearance or approval for use with children.

Convening a coalition of healthcare leaders

The new partnership aims to address the significant gap that exists between devices labeled for adults and children. Additional coalition partners include:

  • CobiCure
  • MedStar Health Research Institute
  • Center for Technology Innovation in Pediatrics (CTIP)
  • UCSF-Stanford Pediatric Device Consortium
  • Pennsylvania Pediatric Device Consortium
  • Southwest National Pediatric Device Consortium

Funded by the FDA and facilitated through NCC-PDI and the Office of Innovation Ventures at Children’s National, this program will provide winning companies with technical expertise, including but not limited to regulatory, study design and data science services.

“We are delighted to partner with this coalition of trusted healthcare leaders that share our vision for advancing pediatric health. We know all too well that pediatric device development presents several unique challenges and that children have medical device needs that are considerably different from adults,” says Kolaleh Eskandanian, Ph.D., M.B.A, P.M.P, vice president and chief innovation officer at Children’s National and principal investigator of NCC-PDI. “There are already a number of medical devices on the market that have been FDA cleared or approved and proven viable, and this partnership will help provide important evidence generation and other wraparound services to guide device creators through the regulatory path for pediatric labeling.”

Using RWE to facilitate the regulatory pathway

While Randomized Clinical Trials (RCT) have traditionally been the gold standard when investigating a medical product’s efficacy and safety, many important populations, including children, are excluded from RCTs for ethical reasons. This means that pediatric researchers must make safety and efficacy decisions in the absence of data from such trials. RWE, including data from electronic health records (EHRs), healthcare claims data, disease registries and data gathered through other health applications, can close this gap in pediatric studies. She said that MedStar Health’s capabilities in applying RWE will be a formidable asset to the chosen applicants.

Proposals for companies seeking pediatric labeling for their medical device will be reviewed by an esteemed panel of judges specializing in data science, medical device development, evidence generation, post-market surveillance and the FDA’s regulatory pathway. Children’s National and members of the coalition will provide selected companies with technical expertise in support of their effort to achieve pediatric labeling. This will include:

  • Access to mentors
  • A design study protocol implementing RWE generation best practices
  • Facilitation of IRB submission and study implementation
  • Data science support
  • Regulatory, reimbursement and supply chain consultation


NCC-PDI is one of five consortia in the FDA’s Pediatric Device Consortia Grant Program created to support the development and commercialization of medical devices for children. NCC-PDI is led by the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National and the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland, with support from partners MedTech Innovator and design firm Archimedic.

coronavirus and DNA

Case study: COVID-19 patient with autoimmune adrenal insufficiency and hypothyroidism

coronavirus and DNA

This is the first report of a pediatric patient with COVID-19 who developed autoimmune thyroid and cortisol deficiency, although not confirmed that it was related or triggered by the COVID-19 infection.

There is emerging speculation that the inflammatory state associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection may trigger autoimmune conditions, but no causal link has been established. In a case study, published in Hormone Research in Paediatrics, researchers at Children’s National Hospital report a 14-year-old girl admitted with COVID-19 and symptoms of MIS-C who was then recognized to have autoimmune polyglandular syndrome (APS2). This is the first report of a pediatric patient with COVID-19 who developed autoimmune thyroid and cortisol deficiency, although not confirmed that it was related or triggered by the COVID-19 infection.

What this means

APS2 is rare in children and has an incidence of 1 in 20,000. Until now, there have only been reports of autoimmune thyroiditis and adrenal insufficiency in adults post-COVID-19.

“The role of COVID-19 in the etiopathogenesis of APS2 in this case remains unclear,” says Myrto Flokas, M.D., endocrinology fellow at Children’s National Hospital and first author of the case study. “But we suspect that it may have contributed to the rapid progression and severe clinical manifestations of both adrenal insufficiency and hypothyroidism leading to the presentation akin to MIS-C.”

The hold-up in the field

COVID-19 has been reported to affect the immune system and may serve as a trigger for autoimmune diseases similar to other viral infections.

“This is a case-report and while we cannot draw any mechanistic conclusions or infer causality, it is the first pediatric report of an association,” says Roopa Kanakatti Shankar, M.D., endocrinologist at Children’s National and one of the authors of the case study.  “We hope it will contribute to this novel field as our understanding of COVID-19 and its myriad effects on the immune system is still evolving.”

Why it matters

This case will alert clinicians to be mindful of the association and similarities in presentation of adrenal insufficiency to MIS-C and consider adrenal crisis in the differential diagnosis of such a presentation.

You can read the full case study, New-Onset Primary Adrenal Insufficiency and Autoimmune Hypothyroidism in a Pediatric Patient Presenting with MIS-C, in Hormone Research in Paediatrics.

Platinum ELSO Award logo

Children’s National receives Platinum ELSO Award of Excellence

Platinum ELSO Award logoIn 1984, Children’s National Hospital became the first children’s hospital to offer Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) and remains one of the largest ECMO programs in the nation, led by Billie Lou Short, M.D., chief of the Division of Neonatology at Children’s National. This year, the Children’s National ECMO Program was recognized by the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) with the Platinum ELSO Award of Excellence in Extracorporeal Life Support. This award recognizes centers that demonstrate an exceptional commitment to evidence-based processes and quality measures, staff training and continuing education, patient satisfaction and ongoing clinical care.

By being designated as a Center of Excellence with ELSO, Children’s National has demonstrated extraordinary achievement in the following three categories:

  • Excellence in promoting the mission, activities and vision of ELSO
  • Excellence in patient care by using the highest quality measures, processes and structures based upon evidence
  • Excellence in training, education, collaboration and communication supporting ELSO guidelines that contributes to a healing environment for families, patients and staff

“As a member of the Founding Steering Committee of the ELSO organization which started in 1989, the goal was to bring critical care providers doing this highly technical therapy together to develop quality outcome data and standards of care,” says Dr. Short. “ELSO is now the international organization that most programs — neonatal, pediatric and adult — around the world belong to. So, it is an honor this year to have received the ELSO Award of Excellence at the platinum level representing the amazing Extracorporeal Life Support Team we have at Children’s National, caring for patients in all three ICUs.”

Join Children’s National at our 39th annual symposium, ECMO and the Advanced Therapies for Cardiovascular and Respiratory Failure, on February 26-March 1, 2023. Learn more at

illustration of the brain

How the circadian clock could help the brain recover after injury

illustration of the brain

A type of brain cell that can renew itself is regulated by circadian rhythms, providing significant insights into how the body’s internal clock may promote healing after traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

A type of brain cell that can renew itself is regulated by circadian rhythms, providing significant insights into how the body’s internal clock may promote healing after traumatic brain injuries (TBI), according to new research from Children’s National Hospital.

Released in the latest issue of eNeuro, the findings open new avenues of investigation for future TBI therapies. These injuries are currently managed only with supportive care and rehabilitation, rather than targeted drug treatment options. The findings also underscore the importance of addressing circadian disturbances to help injured brains heal.

Many of the body’s cells follow a 24-hour rhythm driven by their genes known as the circadian clock. The Children’s National research team found that a relatively newly discovered type of brain cell ­– known as NG2-glia, or oligodendrocyte precursor cells ­– also follow a circadian rhythm. This cell type is one of the few that continually self-renews throughout adulthood and is notably proliferative in the first week after brain injuries.

“We have found evidence for the role of this well-known molecular pathway – the molecular circadian clock – in regulating the ability for these NG2-glia to proliferate, both at rest and after injury,” said Terry Dean, M.D., Ph.D., critical care specialist at Children’s National and the lead author of the paper. “This will serve as a starting point to further investigate the pathways to controlling cellular regeneration and optimize recovery after injury.”

Sometimes called “the silent epidemic,” TBI afflicts an estimated 69 million people worldwide each year, with injuries ranging from mild concussions to severe injuries that cause mortality or lifelong disability. In the United States alone, approximately 2.8 million people sustain TBI annually, including 630,000 children. TBI is the leading cause of death in people under age 45, and those who survive are often left with persistent physical, cognitive and psychological disabilities.

Yet no targeted therapies exist for TBI, creating a critical need to uncover the mechanisms that could unlock the regeneration of these NG2-glia cells, which are the most common type of brain cell known to proliferate and self-renew in adult brains.

“It is essential for researchers to know that cell renewal is coordinated with the time of day,” said Vittorio Gallo, Ph.D., interim chief academic officer and interim director of the Children’s National Research Institute. “With this knowledge, we can dig deeper into the body’s genetic healing process to understand how cells regulate and regenerate themselves.”

Baby on ventilator

JAMA study shows no benefit to nitric oxide in cardiopulmonary bypass for young children

Baby on ventilator

An international clinical trial showed that nitric oxide doesn’t help kids recover faster from cardiac surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass.

A study published in JAMA finds that the practice of introducing nitric oxide into the gas flow of the cardiopulmonary bypass oxygenator does not improve recovery or reduce the amount of time a child under age 2 needs to be on a ventilator after cardiac surgery.

Children’s National Cardiac Surgery Chief Yves d’Udekem, M.D., Ph.D., co-authored the international study, which is already leading to changes in how hospitals around the world care for children with congenital heart disease (CHD).

The results are from a double-blind, randomized controlled trial with more than 1,200 participants across six centers in Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands. The research team found that children under age 2 who had cardiac surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass spent about the same number of days on ventilators after surgery, whether nitric oxide was used during surgery or not.

“These findings do not support the use of nitric oxide delivered into the cardiopulmonary bypass oxygenator during heart surgery,” the authors conclude.

What this means

Previous smaller, single center studies had shown early indications that nitric oxide delivered during heart surgery could possibly improve recovery and shorten the need for respiratory support after surgery by reducing the occurrence of low cardiac output syndrome in children under age 2.

This large-scale international trial showed that this is not the case.

Why it matters

Based on these earlier studies, many hospitals in the United States and around the world who perform critical heart surgery on young children with congenital heart disease had already started to incorporate nitric oxide into cardiopulmonary bypass. This new, more robust data is helping hospitals reassess this practice. Many are stopping it altogether based on the findings.

This work is an important reminder of how valuable well-designed, large-scale, double-blind, randomized, controlled trials are to defining, improving and refining best practices in clinical care.

Also, trials of this size and significance in pediatrics generally, and CHD specifically, take a very long time to complete, if they are ever able to be completed at all. That’s because the number of children with these conditions is relatively small and spread out, even though CHD is the most common birth defect in the world. The authors say it is a major accomplishment to have completed a trial of this size and  in such a short time. Even better, the data gathered from this sample of patients from across international borders can be used to provide even more insights into how best to care for these children as they continue to grow and develop.

Ricardo Munoz

Ricardo Munoz, M.D., named MacCutcheon Family Professor in Cardiac Critical Care Medicine

Ricardo MunozChildren’s National Hospital named Ricardo Munoz, M.D., the MacCutcheon Family Professor in Cardiac Critical Care Medicine at Children’s National Hospital.

Dr. Munoz serves as chief of the Division of Cardiac Critical Care Medicine, executive director of Telehealth, and co-director of Children’s National Heart Institute at Children’s National Hospital. He is professor of pediatrics at the George Washington University School of Medicine and the main editor of several books in pediatric cardiac critical care medicine.

About the award

Dr. Munoz joins a distinguished group of 42 Children’s National physicians and scientists who hold an endowed chair. Professorships at Children’s National support groundbreaking work on behalf of children and their families and foster new discoveries and innovations in pediatric medicine. These appointments carry prestige and honor that reflect the recipient’s achievements and donor’s forethought to advance and sustain knowledge.

As chief of the Division of Cardiac Critical Care Medicine, Dr. Munoz leads a multidisciplinary team of specially trained physicians in providing intensive pediatric cardiac critical care. Dr. Munoz is credited as pioneering telemedicine for pediatric critical care, dedicated to increasing access and quality care for children with special hearts in the nation’s capital and across the world.

The MacCutcheon Family Foundation, through their vision and generosity, are ensuring that Dr. Munoz and future holders of this professorship will launch bold, new initiatives to rapidly advance the field of pediatric cardiac critical care, elevate our leadership and improve the lifetimes of children with special hearts.

About the donors

Jim MacCutcheon’s involvement with Children’s National dates back to 1983. He has served in many leadership positions, most notably on the Children’s National and Children’s National Hospital Foundation board of directors. Jim and his daughters, Megan MacCutcheon, Candice Kessler and Colleen Crowley have supported Children’s National Heart Institute by funding the development of the MacCutcheon Cardiovascular Operating Suite and the Halle MacCutcheon Playroom on the heart and kidney unit. They have also provided support for the Peter Holbrook Endowed Lecture in Critical Care Medicine, the mobile health clinic and various events and capital improvement projects.

The MacCutcheon family’s investment to establish the MacCutcheon Family Professorship in Cardiac Critical Care Medicine allows Dr. Munoz and his team to provide innovative care utilizing telemedicine and artificial intelligence in support of our patients with special hearts.