Public Health

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

form with check boxes for genderA new validated self-report tool called the Gender Self-Report provides researchers 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, is outlined in a peer-reviewed article in the American Psychologist, a journal of the American Psychological Association.

The big picture

“This is the first broadly validated tool that allows us to measure inner gender experience across a large group of people in a rigorous way that doesn’t require a person to understand specialized gender-related terms,” says John Strang, Psy.D., who directs the Gender and Autism Program at Children’s National Hospital. He co-authored the journal article about the measure and co-led the initiative to develop it. “Typical gender assessments are fixed check boxes, which is problematic for capturing gender in people who are not familiar with many of the self-descriptors, which vary in their use and meaning.”

Strang notes that even open-field gender assessments can be problematic for people who experience gender diversity but are not aware of nuanced gender-related language.

Why it matters

This new gender characterization and inclusion method will allow researchers from a broad array of fields (e.g., social sciences, medicine, education) to model their participants’ inner gender experience more equitably in research. The resulting studies will be able to provide deeper understanding of how a person’s gender can play a role in study outcomes.

Senior author and statistical lead for the project, Ji Seung Yang, Ph.D., from University of Maryland Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology, foresees this tool as an important addition to the research toolkit for people studying neuroimaging, genetics and any other research that requires a more accurate and detailed picture of an individual’s gender experience.

What’s unique

The Gender Self-Report tool is the first of its kind to be developed and validated by researchers together with the gender diverse and neurodiverse communities directly. These efforts align with work in many fields of clinical research to ensure that study findings reflect the insights and experiences of the people who are being studied, rather than simply capturing the researcher’s external perspective of those participants.

The tool is appropriate for use by youth (as young as 10 years of age) and adults, gender diverse and cisgender individuals, and non-autistic and autistic people. The focus on inclusivity for autistic people is in keeping with the common intersection of autism and gender diversity (i.e., 11% of gender-diverse people are estimated to be autistic).

Gregory Wallace, Ph.D., co-author of the measure and associate professor in the Department of Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences at The George Washington University, calls the tool a “game changer for any research that needs to understand specifics about how gender experience can impact health-related or developmental differences.”

The Gender Self-Report: A Multidimensional Gender Characterization Tool for Gender-Diverse and Cisgender Youth and Adults, appears in the American Psychologist.

pregnant woman on couch

The role of pediatric cardiologists in addressing maternal health disparities

pregnant woman on couch

Black women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications. Most of the risk factors for these complications are cardiac in origin and preventable.

Pediatric cardiologists can and should work alongside other specialties to address the epidemic of maternal mortality that disproportionately affects Black women in the United States, says Annette Ansong, M.D., medical director of outpatient cardiology at Children’s National Hospital.

As co-chair of the Women and Children Committee of the Association of Black Cardiologists Inc., (ABC) Ansong says that cardiologists, especially pediatric cardiologists, have a role to play because “before they are Black women, they are Black girls.”

She talked about the impact of these health disparities and how cardiologists can play a role in addressing them at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in November 2022.

Why it matters

Dr. Ansong says that Black women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications. Most of the risk factors for these complications are cardiac in origin and preventable. Furthermore, many of these cardiovascular risk factors, such as obesity, start in youth and some even before birth. For example, children of pre-eclamptic moms have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease in the future, too.

How cardiologists can help

Pediatric cardiologists can be more proactive at helping Black girls grow up into strong, healthy Black women by making sure they are heart-healthy from a young age. That includes advocating for exercise, eating well and exploring innovative ways to encourage those habits.

Dr. Ansong says she makes a point to closely follow children based on the heart health history of their mothers—for example, “if mom had pre-eclampsia, I need to be keeping a closer eye on that child’s blood pressure” —to allow for early intervention and potentially prevent some devastating negative outcomes later in life.

Pediatricians and other specialists can also work with maternal-fetal medicine and other specialties to advocate for better tools to monitor women with pre-existing heart-related risk factors. This might include supporting efforts to enhance technology that makes self-monitoring easier, so women can keep closer eyes on their own blood pressure and share it with doctors in between appointments.

Most important, clinicians of all stripes should try to connect with patients to understand who they are, where they come from and how their stories impact their risk factors for health conditions.

The Women and Children’s Committee of the ABC launched the “We Are the Faces of Black Maternal Health” campaign in February 2022. The first-of-its-kind effort featured the stories of ABC members who had direct or indirect experiences with the impacts of maternal health on themselves, their children or someone they knew.

What’s next

The ABC “We Are the Faces of Black Maternal Health” re-launches this February to continue raising awareness but will also emphasize the need for investments in research about the causes of these disparities and possible prevention strategies to protect Black women.

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 http://www.innovate4kids.org.

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

About NCC-PDI

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.

Map showing CHI Registry sign-ups through December 2022

Congenital Heart Initiative celebrates global reach in first two years

The first patient-powered registry for adults living with congenital heart disease (CHD) — the Congential Heart Initiative (CHI) — celebrates a major milestone this month. In the two years since it was launched in December 2020, the registry has enrolled more than 3,227 adults with CHD from all 50 states and 28 countries.

Why it matters

Although nearly 2 million adults in the United States are living with a congenital heart defect — more adults than children in fact — it’s been historically difficult to gather data on these conditions and to identify patient needs.

“We developed this registry together with numerous patients and providers so it could become a platform for increasing our knowledge and improving care,” says Anitha John, M.D., medical director of the Washington Adult Congenital Heart Program and an adult congenital cardiologist at Children’s National Hospital, who helped drive the registry’s creation. “We want it to become a resource for patients and researchers, a place where they can learn more about what it means for adults who had their hearts repaired in childhood to live a long, healthy life.”

The patient benefit

As the treatments for children with CHDs have improved, people born with them are living longer and longer. That means that as they become adults, they have a lot of worry and uncertainty about their limitations and abilities to achieve what might be considered common adult milestones.

“Over the past two years, more than 3,000 adult congenital heart disease (ACHD) patients from around the world, including myself, have worked to support ACHD research by participating in the Congenital Heart Initiative (CHI),” says Scott Leezer, a single-ventricle heart defect patient and co-leader of research and advocacy for the Initiative. “This selfless and simple effort has produced an investment in improving our collective understanding of adult patients living with CHD. We hope these investments will pay dividends in helping guide new research strategies for future generations of CHD patients.”

Participants in the registry receive regular newsletters, highlighting findings and providing access to patient specific resources including content from the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA), a key partner. The ACHA collaboration has also given registry participants the opportunity to interact with other people – a key request identified as important based on input from people who have already registered.

What’s unique

“There is no ’one-size-fits-all’ answer for adults with CHD,” Dr. John adds.

“While other CHD registries exist, they are provider-based and not patient-powered,” said John. “The CHI registry is driven by patients, supporting research but also providing information based on what is important according to the people with CHD themselves.”

What’s next

A sub-study of the CHI will use PCORnet®, the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network, to better understand how gaps in care impact the adult patient experience with CHD. The CHI-RON study, which stands for Congenital Heart Initiative: Redefining Outcomes and Navigation to Adult-Centered Care, will be the first of its kind to fill in these knowledge gaps by exploring three distinct types of data at once: patient reported outcomes, health insurance claims and electronic health records (EHR). The effort is led by Children’s National and Louisiana Public Health Institute.

“PCORnet is a fantastic resource to help us fully understand the impact of gaps in CHD care,” said Tom Carton, dual-principal investigator of CHI-RON and chief data officer at the Louisiana Public Health Institute. “It is essentially turbo-charging our patient-reported data with two additional layers of insights from claims and EHRs, unlocking answers that would be impossible to achieve in isolation.”

In terms of research, the CHI now has enough participants to allow researchers to complete some important studies about pregnancy, mental health and long-term health care follow ups, all of which will kick off within the next year. The research teams hope to engage centers across the United States to better determine the needs of individual ACHD centers and to understand how the CHI can help with these needs. Centers that care for people with ACHD can learn more about how to participate in the CHI at information sessions in 2023, including January 12 at 8 am or 6 pm and January 17 at 8 am or 6pm.

pregnant woman

Early SARS-CoV-2 exposure may impact infant development

pregnant woman

The study found that some infants with in utero or early-life exposure to SARS-CoV-2 had borderline to low developmental screening scores.

Early SARS-CoV-2 exposure may impact neurodevelopment, especially among infants exposed in utero to symptomatic parents. This is according to a new study led by Sarah Mulkey, M.D., Ph.D., prenatal-neonatal neurologist in the Prenatal Pediatrics Institute at Children’s National Hospital. Dr. Mulkey and team conclude that vaccination and other precautions to reduce early-in-life infection may protect against neurodevelopmental delays. Children with early SARS-CoV-2 exposure should have additional long-term screening for neurodevelopmental delays.

Children’s National Hospital leads the way

The developing brain is vulnerable to both direct and indirect effects of infection during pregnancy and in the early neonatal period. To chart the impact of this exposure, the team created a clinical follow-up protocol in the Congenital Infection Program at Children’s National to chart the development of 34 infants exposed to SARS-CoV-2 in utero or in the neonatal period.

What we hoped to discover

“We conducted this study because we know that infants, when exposed to maternal COVID-19 infection in utero can be exposed to inflammation, fever and an abnormal intrauterine environment. SARS-CoV-2 can also affect the placenta, and in turn, the developing brain,” Dr. Mulkey shared with Healio.

This study aimed to determine if infants with early SARS-CoV-2 exposure developed abnormal neurodevelopment in infancy and the factors that may impact neurodevelopment differences. The study found that some infants with in utero or early-life exposure to SARS-CoV-2 had borderline to low developmental screening scores, most common among babies born to mothers with symptomatic COVID-19. Researchers followed the infants in their first months of life, gauging how the exposure affected their neurologic development. Results were demonstrated using a screening test called the Ages & Stages Questionnaires (ASQ), and those whose scores were borderline or low were most often born to mothers with symptomatic COVID-19.

Why it matters

In conducting this study, the team found that babies born during the pandemic, specifically under these conditions, do, in fact, require additional follow-up in the early stages of life. We may also see more differences in developmental outcomes as children get older.

“Any measure we can take to help prevent infections for mothers in their pregnancy can improve long-term developmental outcomes for children,” says Dr. Mulkey.

Other members of the Children’s National team that contributed to this work include Roberta L. DeBiasi, M.D., M.S.; Meagan E. Williams, M.S.P.H.; Nadia Jadeed, R.N.C.; Anqing Zhang, Ph.D.; and Smitha Israel, B.S.N.

Dr. Mulkey also published a recent article in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology that found the COVID-19 vaccine may protect pregnant women from SARS-CoV-2 placentitis and stillbirth. This work builds upon Dr. Mulkey’s longitudinal studies on Zika virus infection in pregnancy and long-term impacts on the child, funded by the Thrasher Research Fund and the National Institutes of Health.

Sarah Mulkey

Exposure to Zika in utero may produce neurodevelopmental differences

Sarah Mulkey

“There are still many unanswered questions about the long-term impacts of Zika on children exposed in utero,” says Sarah Mulkey, M.D., Ph.D., a prenatal-neonatal neurologist in the Prenatal Pediatrics Institute at Children’s National Hospital.

Children who are exposed to the Zika virus while in the womb, but who are not subsequently diagnosed with Zika-related birth defects and congenital Zika syndrome (CZS), may still display differences in some aspects of cognitive development, mood and mobility compared to unexposed children, reports a study published in Pediatric Research. These findings suggest that Zika-exposed children may need some additional support and monitoring as they get older.

“There are still many unanswered questions about the long-term impacts of Zika on children exposed in utero,” says Sarah Mulkey, M.D., Ph.D., a prenatal-neonatal neurologist in the Prenatal Pediatrics Institute at Children’s National Hospital and the study’s first author. “These findings are another piece of the puzzle that provides insight into the long-term neurodevelopment of children with prenatal Zika virus exposure. Further evaluation is needed as these children get older.”

It has not been clear how children who were exposed to the Zika virus in the womb during the 2015–2017 epidemic, but who did not develop CZS and serious neurological complications, will develop as they get older.

Dr. Mulkey and colleagues examined the neurodevelopment of 55 children aged 3-5 years who were exposed to Zika in the womb in Sabanalarga, Colombia, and compared them to 70 control children aged 4-5 years who had not been exposed to Zika. Assessments occurred between December 2020 and February 2021. Health professionals tested the children’s motor skills (such as manual dexterity, aiming and catching, and balance) and their readiness for school (including knowledge of colors, letters, numbers and shapes). Parents completed three questionnaires providing information about their child’s cognitive function (such as memory and emotional control), behavioral and physical conditions (such as responsibility and mobility), and their parenting experience (including whether they felt distress).

Parents of Zika-exposed children reported significantly lower levels of mobility and responsibility compared to control children, although differences in cognitive function scores were not significant. Additionally, parents of 6 (11%) Zika-exposed children reported mood problems compared to 1 (1%) of control children, and Zika-exposed parents were significantly more likely to report parental distress.

Professional testing revealed no significant differences in the Zika-exposed children’s manual dexterity, such as their ability to catch an object or post a coin through a slot, compared to the control children. Both Zika-exposed and control children also scored lowly on readiness for school.

The authors highlight that parental responses may have been influenced by the Zika-exposed children’s parents’ perceptions or increased worry about the development of their child. Some differences in results may also have been caused by the age – and therefore developmental – differences between the groups of children.

The authors conclude that while these Zika-exposed children are making progress as they develop, they may need additional support as they prepare to start school.

Dr. Mulkey is committed to studying the long-term neurodevelopmental impacts that viruses like Zika and SARS-CoV-2 have on infants born to mothers who were infected during pregnancy through research with the Congenital Infection Program at Children’s National and in collaboration with colleagues in Colombia.

NCC PDI 2022 pitch competition winners

Five winners selected in prestigious pediatric device competition

The National Capital Consortium for Pediatric Device Innovation (NCC-PDI) announced five awardees chosen in its prestigious “Make Your Medical Device Pitch for Kids!” competition. Each received a share of $150,000 in grant funding from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with awards ranging from $20,000 to $50,000 to support the advancement of pediatric medical devices.

Consistent with its mission of addressing the most pressing pediatric device needs, this year’s competition, moderated by MedTech Innovator, welcomed medical device technologies that address the broad unmet needs of children. The pediatric pitch event was part of the 10th Annual Symposium on Pediatric Device Innovation, co-located with the MedTech Conference, powered by AdvaMed.

This year’s pediatric device innovation awardees are:

  • CorInnova – Houston, TX – Minimally invasive biventricular non-blood contacting cardiac assist device to treat heart failure.
  • Innovation Lab – La Palma, CA – Mechanical elbow brace stabilizes tremors for pediatric ataxic cerebral palsy to improve the performance of Activities of Daily Living (ADLs).
  • Prapela – Biddeford, ME – Prapela’s incubator pad is the first innovation to improve the treatment of apnea of prematurity in over twenty years.
  • Tympanogen – Richmond, VA – Perf-Fix replaces surgical eardrum repair with a nonsurgical clinic procedure
  • Xpan – Concord, Ont. – Xpan’s universal trocar enables safest and most dynamic access and effortless upsizing in conventional/mini/robotic procedures.

“We are delighted to recognize these five innovations with critical NCC-PDI funding that will support their journey to commercialization. Improving pediatric healthcare is not possible without forward-thinking companies that seek to address the most dire unmet needs in children’s health,” says Kolaleh Eskandanian, Ph.D., M.B.A, P.M.P, vice president and chief innovation officer at Children’s National Hospital and principal investigator of NCC-PDI. “We know all too well how challenging it is to bring pediatric medical devices to market, which is why we have created this rich ecosystem to identify promising medical device technologies and incentivize investment. We congratulate this year’s winning innovators and applaud their efforts to help bridge these important care gaps that are impacting children.”

Empowering Innovators

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, which lags significantly behind the progress of adult medical devices. 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.

A pediatric accelerator program, powered by MedTech Innovator, the largest medical device accelerator in the world, is a key part of the network of resources and experts that NCC-PDI provides in support of pediatric innovators. All five of this year’s competition finalists had an opportunity to participate in the year-long accelerator program.

To date, NCC-PDI has mentored 250 medical device projects to help advance their pediatric innovations throughout all stages of the total product life cycle (TPLC).

Eskandanian adds that supporting the progress of pediatric innovators is a key focus of the new Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus, a one-of-its-kind ecosystem that drives discoveries that save and improve the lives of children. On a nearly 12-acre portion of the former, historic Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Northwest Washington, D.C., Children’s National has combined its strengths with those of public and private partners, including industry, universities, federal agencies, start-up companies and academic medical centers. The campus provides a rich environment of public and private partners which, like the NCC-PDI network, will help bolster pediatric innovation and commercialization.

NCC PDI 2022 pitch competition winners

A total of $150K was awarded to five pediatric innovations during the medical device pitch competition at the 10th Annual Symposium on Pediatric Device Innovation, hosted by the National Capital Consortium for Pediatric Device Innovation (NCC-PDI). Award winners include (from left to right): Zaid Atto, founder and CEO at Xpan; John Konsin, CEO and co-founder of Prapela; Elaine Horn-Ranney, co-founder and CEO at Tympanogen; William Altman, CEO at CorInnova; and Sharief Taraman, pediatric neurologist at CHOC and University of California-Irvine partnering with Innovation Lab. (Photo credit: Children’s National Hospital)

Innovations for health equity: Food pharmacy app wins Hackathon

When families come into the endocrinology clinic, 66% of prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes patients screen positive for food insecurity. One remedy: a smartphone app envisioned by Children’s National Hospital researchers to communicate with families between visits and provide resources to help stock pantries with nutritious foods.

The Children’s National Food Pharmacy app is on its way from idea to reality, thanks to the inaugural Health Equity in Research Hackathon event at the Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus. This team-based, “Shark Tank”-like competition involved roughly 50 experts designing creative healthcare solutions that could be delivered through ubiquitous smartphones.

“It takes a village to raise a child, and we want to show that at Children’s National we are part of that community,” said food pharmacy founder and diabetes educator Alexis Richardson, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., C.D.C.E.S.

Why it matters

The rate of new-onset Type 2 diabetes increased by a staggering 182% during the first nine months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the Children’s National food pharmacy provides families that screen positive for food insecurity during quarterly clinic appointments with a 50-pound bag of medically-tailored groceries.

The new app, as envisioned, would follow them home to connect them with food bank information and other nutritional resources, eliminating paper forms and other hurdles that get in the way of care.

What’s ahead

Children’s National leaders are committed to making the proposal a reality. “We are going to support today’s winner through the next steps to prepare them to enter the app development pipeline at the Sheikh Zayed Institute,” said Lisa Guay-Woodford, M.D., director for the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at Children’s National (CTSI-CN) and one of the main judges of the competition.

The app development will happen in the months ahead. Kevin Cleary, Ph.D., technical director of the Sheikh Zayed Institute of Pediatric Surgical Innovation, said the Hackathon planted the seeds. “It really depends on the drive of the individual to see the idea to fruition,” Cleary told competitors.

Other app entries were encouraged to continue their work:

  • The Surgical Checklist, led by Brian K. Reilly, M.D., co-director of the Cochlear Implant Program: this app would help patients and providers successfully navigate the often-confusing pre-operative checklist, including required physical exams, lab work, imaging and pre-procedure fasting. Reilly said the hospital handles about 15,000 cases a year, and about 10% are rescheduled, often for reasons that could be avoided with digital organization and reminders for families.
  • More than Determined, led by Pediatrician Jessica Lazerov, M.D., M.B.A.: this app aims to give time-strapped providers a platform to better understand and address social determinants of health – such as access to safe housing, education and jobs – that can promote better preventative care outcomes.

The Health Equity in Research Hackathon was created by the new Health Equity in Research Unit, a joint initiative between the CTSI-CN and the Center for Translational Research within the Children’s National Research Institute.

Dr. Lisa Guay-Woodford and the winners of the Health Equity in Research Hackathon

Dr. Lisa Guay-Woodford, director for the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, joins the winners of the inaugural Health Equity in Research Hackathon: the Children’s National Food Pharmacy. The team’s proposed app will connect families facing food insecurity with resources and guidance for nutritious eating.

iLet Bionic Pancreas

Multicenter trial finds bionic pancreas improves Type 1 diabetes management

iLet Bionic Pancreas

Compared to other available artificial pancreas technologies, the bionic pancreas requires less user input and provides more automation because the device’s algorithms continually adjust insulin doses automatically.

A device known as a bionic pancreas, which uses next-generation technology to automatically deliver insulin, was more effective at maintaining blood glucose levels within normal range than standard-of-care management among people with Type 1 diabetes, a new multicenter clinical trial found.

The trial, conducted partly at Children’s National Hospital, was primarily funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Automated insulin delivery systems – also called artificial pancreas or closed-loop control systems – track a person’s blood glucose levels using a continuous glucose monitor and automatically deliver the hormone insulin using a pump. These systems replace reliance on insulin delivery by multiple daily injections, pumps without automation and testing glucose levels using more labor-intensive systems, such as fingersticks.

“A diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes can be overwhelming for a child and their family,” said Fran Cogen, M.D., C.D.C.E.S., principal investigator at Children’s National and director of the Childhood and Adolescent Diabetes Program. “It is extremely important to monitor and manage glucose levels throughout the day to prevent serious complications like eye problems, kidney disease, heart and blood vessel disease. This new technology may give patients and families a sense of relief from some of the daily stressors that come with the diagnosis of this chronic disease.”

Compared to other available artificial pancreas technologies, the bionic pancreas requires less user input and provides more automation because the device’s algorithms continually adjust insulin doses automatically. Users of the bionic pancreas also do not have to count carbohydrates, nor initiate doses of insulin to correct for high blood glucose. In addition, healthcare providers do not need to make periodic adjustments to the device’s settings.

The 13-week trial, conducted at Children’s National and 15 other U.S. clinical sites, enrolled 326 participants ages 6 to 79 years who had Type 1 diabetes and had been using insulin for at least one year. Participants were randomly assigned to either a treatment group using the bionic pancreas device or a standard-of-care control group using their personal pre-study insulin delivery method.

The study found:

  • In participants using the bionic pancreas, glycated hemoglobin improved from 7.9% to 7.3%, yet remained unchanged among the standard-of-care control group.
  • The bionic pancreas group participants spent 11% more time within the targeted blood glucose range compared to the control group.
  • Results were similar in youth and adult participants.
  • Improvements in blood glucose control were greatest among participants who had higher blood glucose levels at the beginning of the study.

Hyperglycemia caused by equipment problems was the most frequently reported adverse event in the bionic pancreas group. The number of mild hypoglycemia events and frequency of severe hypoglycemia were not different in the two groups.

“The results of this study will bring hope to patients, families and providers that there are technologies being created to help ease the burden of diabetes management and keep glucose levels more stable,” said Kimberly Boucher, M.S.H.S., B.S.N., R.N., clinical research manager of Endocrinology at Children’s National.

The study is one of several pivotal trials funded by NIDDK to advance artificial pancreas technology and look at factors including safety, efficacy, user-friendliness, physical and emotional health of participants, and cost. To date, these trials have provided the important safety and efficacy data needed for regulatory review and licensure to make the technology commercially available. The Jaeb Center for Health Research in Tampa, Florida, served as coordinating center.

Funding for the study was provided by NIDDK grant 1UC4DK108612 to Boston University, by an Investigator-Initiated Study award from Novo Nordisk, and by Beta Bionics, Inc., which also provided the experimental bionic pancreas devices used in the study. Insulin and some supplies were donated by Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly, Dexcom and Ascensia Diabetes Care. Partial support for the development of the experimental bionic pancreas device was provided by NIDDK SBIR grant 1R44DK120234 to Beta Bionics, Inc.

You can read the full study, Multicenter, Randomized Trial of a Bionic Pancreas in Type 1 Diabetes, in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Paper cutouts of silhouette

Successful autism and ADHD tools go digital

Paper cutouts of silhouette

A team is working to implement a successful, evidence-based online training and tele-support system for the Unstuck and On Target (UOT) program.

A team from Children’s National Hospital, Children’s Hospital Colorado and The Institute for Innovation and Implementation at the University of Maryland, Baltimore is working to implement a successful, evidence-based online training and tele-support system for the Unstuck and On Target (UOT) program. The program is now available for free to any parent or educator who needs it.

What is it?

Since 2020, this team has piloted UOT video training with 293 school-based staff across 230 elementary schools in Colorado and Virginia. The work follows a related PCORI-funded research project, Improving Classroom Behaviors Among Students with Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, led by Children’s National and Children’s Colorado researchers. That project demonstrated the effectiveness of UOT at improving the executive functioning – or self-regulation skills including flexible thinking, planning and emotional-control – of school-aged children in Title 1 schools. The training focuses on the executive function of elementary school-aged children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

In addition to creating more accessible training for educators, the team created short, free videos highlighting executive functioning tips and tricks that parents can employ at home. These videos, evaluated by 100 parents and revised based on their input, are now available to parents nationwide.

The availability of this training is possible due to a $2 million contract awarded to Children’s Hospital Colorado’s (Children’s Colorado) Pediatric Mental Health Institute and Children’s National by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) in 2020.

Why it matters

There are many children, including those in low-income or rural settings, that don’t have access to clinics that offer services to support executive functioning skills, such as planning and flexibility, that they need. But all children have access to a school. Now, UOT training is online and accessible so any school with internet access can offer UOT where school staff (including special educators, teachers, paraprofessionals and counselors) can actively teach students how to plan, set goals and be flexible. The team’s next goal is to create a comparable video training for the high school version of UOT.

“These free, accessible and effective tools for improving children’s social-emotional development are building skills that are more important today than ever,” said Lauren Kenworthy, Ph.D., director of the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders at Children’s National. “The vast majority (96%) of caregivers and educators found these tools useful and relevant. That feedback is a testament to our team’s efforts to make sure these resources were created and validated as usable, approachable and actionable for everyone who needs them.”

More information

For educators – Find resources on Unstuck and On Target, including links to the free trainings, tips and tricks and FAQs. Teachers can also receive continuing education credits (CEUs) for this training.

For parents – Find resources on Unstuck and On Target’s parent training videos

For schools – Add free Unstuck and On Target parent videos to your school district’s relevant websites, landing pages and newsletters.

echocardiogram

AI may revolutionize rheumatic heart disease early diagnosis

echocardiogram

Researchers at Children’s National Hospital have created a new artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm that promises to be as successful at detecting early signs of rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in color Doppler echocardiography clips as expert clinicians.

Researchers at Children’s National Hospital have created a new artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm that promises to be as successful at detecting early signs of rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in color Doppler echocardiography clips as expert clinicians. Even better, this novel model diagnoses this deadly heart condition from echocardiography images of varying quality — including from low-resource settings — a huge challenge that has delayed efforts to automate RHD diagnosis for children in these areas.

Why it matters

Current estimates are that 40.5 million people worldwide live with rheumatic heart disease, and that it kills 306,000 people every year. Most of those affected are children, adolescents and young adults under age 25.

Though widely eradicated in nations such as the United States, rheumatic fever remains prevalent in developing countries, including those in sub-Saharan Africa. Recent studies have shown that, if detected soon enough, a regular dose of penicillin may slow the development and damage caused by RHD. But it has to be detected.

The hold-up in the field

Diagnosing RHD requires an ultrasound image of the heart, known as an echocardiogram. However, ultrasound in general is very variable as an imaging modality. It is full of texture and noise, making it one of the most challenging to interpret visually. Specialists undergo significant training to read them correctly. However, in areas where RHD is rampant, people who can successfully read these images are few and far between. Making matters worse, the devices used in these low resource settings have their own levels of varying quality, especially when compared to what is available in a well-resourced hospital elsewhere.

The research team hypothesized that a novel, automated deep learning-based method might detect successfully diagnose RHD, which would allow for more diagnoses in areas where specialists are limited. However, to date, machine learning has struggled the same way the human eye does with noisy ultrasound images.

Children’s National leads the way

Using approaches that led to successful objective digital biometric analysis software for non-invasive screening of genetic disease, researchers at the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, including medical imaging scientist Pooneh Roshanitabrizi, Ph.D., and Marius Linguraru, D.Phil., M.A., M.Sc., principal investigator, partnered with clinicians from Children’s National Hospital, including Craig Sable, M.D., associate chief of Cardiology and director of Echocardiography, and cardiology fellow Kelsey Brown, M.D., who are heavily involved in efforts to research, improve treatments and ultimately eliminate the deadly impacts of RHD in children. The collaborators also included cardiac surgeons from the Uganda Heart Institute and cardiologists from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Dr. Linguraru’s team of AI and imaging scientists spent hours working with cardiologists, including Dr. Sable, to truly understand how they approach and assess RHD from echocardiograms. Building the tool based on that knowledge is why this tool stands apart from other efforts to use machine-learning for this purpose. Orienting the approach to the clinical steps of diagnosis is what led to the very first deep learning algorithm that diagnoses mild RHD with similar success to the specialists themselves. After the platform was built, 2,136 echocardiograms from 591 children treated at the Uganda Heart Institute fed the learning algorithm.

What’s next

The team will continue to collect data points based on clinical imaging data to refine and validate the tool. Ultimately, researchers will look for a way that the algorithm can work directly with ultrasound/echocardiogram machines. For example, the program might be run through an app that sits on top of an ultrasound device and works on the same platform to communicate directly with it, right in the clinic. By putting the two technologies together, care providers on the ground will be able to diagnose mild cases and prescribe prophylactic treatments like penicillin in one visit.

The first outcomes from the program were showcased in a presentation by Dr. Roshanitabrizi at one of the biggest and most prestigious medical imaging and AI computing meetings — the 25th International Conference on Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention (MICCAI).

Healthcare icons

Children’s National Innovation Day aims to advance pioneering pediatric life science projects

Healthcare icons

Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus’ Innovation Day will feature life science projects focused on improving pediatric care.

Pioneering life science projects focused on improving pediatric care will be on display at the Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus when the hospital hosts its 2022 Innovation Day on Friday, August 26. Hosted by Children’s National Innovation Ventures, the program’s goal is to showcase life sciences and healthcare projects that are mature enough to look for a co-developer, strategic partner, investor or licensing vehicle.

“For us, a successful Innovation Day means we are able to match these entrepreneurs with the strategic partner they need at this stage of their device development journey,” says Kolaleh Eskandanian, Ph.D., M.B.A., P.M.P., vice president and chief innovation officer at Children’s National Hospital and executive director of the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation.

“Data continues to show that the national Capital Region (NCR) remains one of the most robust life sciences and technology hubs in the country with no shortage of visionary leaders. There is no better place to conduct this important work as we seek more ways to advance pediatric medical technologies to improve health outcomes.”

A total of 17 projects will be showcased at the event, with each having up to 10-minute window to make their presentation. All attendees will be provided a survey, enabling valuable feedback for presenters as they look to take their next strategic step on the pathway to further development and commercialization.

In addition to presenting projects, the 2022 Innovation Day will also feature startup companies whose mission is aligned with Children’s National’s quest to bring novel pediatric medical products to patients and families. Throughout the day, attendees will have the opportunity to meet with the hospital’s researchers, academic entrepreneurs and prominent stakeholders in the life science and healthcare innovation ecosystem in the region. Interested investors and strategics can also request one-on-one meetings with startups and research teams.

Eskandanian, who also serves as the executive director of the FDA-funded National Capital Consortium for Pediatric Device Innovation (NCC-PDI), notes that accelerating this pathway to commercialization for pediatric products will bring more viable technologies to market, an important step in addressing the ongoing development disparity in innovations developed for children versus adults.

“For too long, children have been left behind in the development and commercialization of medical products and we remain committed to altering the trend,” Eskandanian says. “Children’s National’s Innovation Ventures team is working closely with the presenting innovators to provide any and all support that we can to get these products to the next stage.”

Registration for Children’s National’s 2022 Innovation Day is currently open. Those interested in attending the day-long showcase can register at https://conta.cc/3CrAfTl.

Supporting the progress of pediatric innovators is a key focus of the new Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus, a one-of-its-kind ecosystem that drives discoveries that save and improve the lives of children. On a nearly 12-acre portion of the former, historic Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Northwest Washington, D.C., Children’s National has combined its strengths with those of public and private partners, including industry, universities, federal agencies, start-up companies and academic medical centers. The campus provides a rich environment of public and private partners which, like the NCC-PDI network, helps to bolster pediatric innovation and commercialization.

girl getting a vaccine

Second dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine safe for children with allergic reaction to first dose

girl getting a vaccineA new study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice found that pediatric patients who experienced an adverse reaction to the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine or with suspected polyethylene glycol or polysorbate allergies can safely receive the second dose in a supervised setting. Until now, previous studies demonstrating second dose safety after a reaction to the first dose have only included adult patients.

“These results reaffirm similar studies performed in adults and provide additional assurance specific to the pediatric population,” says Joel Brooks, D.O., M.P.H., allergist and immunologist at Children’s National Hospital and corresponding author of the study. “We found that most of these initial reactions are not supportive of an IgE-mediated mechanism.”

The researchers evaluated 13 children referred to a specialized vaccine clinic for suspected immediate allergic reactions to the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from May 2021 to February 2022. Nine of the 13 children were evaluated after experiencing an allergic reaction following the first dose. All nine successfully received the second dose with no or minimal symptoms.

The other four children were evaluated after clinical histories of PEG/polysorbate allergy. Three of the four received both Pfizer vaccine doses with no symptoms. The fourth patient elected to receive the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.

“It is important that children 6 months and older receive two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for full protection from severe illness and hospitalization due to COVID-19 infection,” adds Dr. Brooks. “Children with potential anaphylaxis should undergo careful evaluation to weigh the benefits and risks of the second dose.”

You can read the full study, “Safety outcomes of SARS-CoV-2 vaccination in pediatric patients with a first dose reaction history or allergy to polyethylene glycol or polysorbate,” here.

NCC-PDI Finalists

Pediatric medical device competition names finalists

Five finalists have been named in the prestigious annual “Make Your Medical Device Pitch for Kids!” competition presented by the National Capital Consortium for Pediatric Device Innovation (NCC-PDI). Representing innovations in pediatric technologies that aim to address unmet medical needs for children, these five finalists now have access to a pediatric accelerator program led by MedTech Innovator and will compete for a share of $150,000 in grant funding from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the final virtual pitch event in October 2022. The pediatric pitch event is part of the 10th Annual Symposium on Pediatric Device Innovation, co-located with the MedTech Conference, powered by AdvaMed.

“Addressing unmet needs across pediatric populations is critical to advancing children’s health and we are delighted to once again work with pioneering companies that seek to bridge this care gap,” says Kolaleh Eskandanian, Ph.D., M.B.A, P.M.P, vice president and chief innovation officer at Children’s National Hospital and principal investigator of NCC-PDI. “As an FDA-funded consortium, NCC-PDI serves as a critical device development resource, bringing together individuals and institutions that support viable pediatric innovations and create faster pathways to commercialization. We congratulate this year’s finalists and look forward to seeing the progress made in the coming months as they navigate the accelerator program.”

The following are the five pediatric device innovations that judges selected for the final competition:

  • CorInnova – Houston, TX – Minimally invasive biventricular non-blood contacting cardiac assist device to treat heart failure.
  • Innovation Lab – La Palma, CA – Mechanical elbow brace stabilizes tremors for pediatric ataxic cerebral palsy to improve the performance of Activities of Daily Living (ADLs).
  • Prapela – Biddeford, ME – Prapela’s incubator pad is the first innovation to improve the treatment of apnea of prematurity in over twenty years.
  • Tympanogen – Richmond, VA – Perf-Fix replaces surgical eardrum repair with a nonsurgical clinic procedure
  • Xpan – Concord, Ont. – Xpan’s universal trocar enables safest and most dynamic access and effortless upsizing in conventional/mini/robotic procedures.

Beginning in June 2022, the five finalists will participate in a pediatric-focused track of the MedTech Innovator accelerator, the world’s largest accelerator of medical devices.

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, which lags significantly behind the progress of adult medical devices. 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, BioHealth Innovation and design firm Archimedic.

To date, NCC-PDI has mentored nearly 200 medical device sponsors to help advance their pediatric innovations, with 16 devices having received either their FDA market clearance or CE marking.

The accelerator program is the consortium’s latest addition to a network of resources and experts that it provides in support of pediatric innovators.

Eskandanian adds that supporting the progress of pediatric innovators is a key focus of the new Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus, a one-of-its-kind ecosystem that drives discoveries that save and improve the lives of children. On a nearly 12-acre portion of the former, historic Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Northwest Washington, D.C., Children’s National has combined its strengths with those of public and private partners, including industry, universities, federal agencies, start-up companies and academic medical centers. The campus provides a rich environment of public and private partners which, like the NCC-PDI network, will help bolster pediatric innovation and commercialization.

NCC-PDI Finalists social card

Dr. Limperopoulos talks to a mom

Pandemic-related stressors in pregnant women affect fetal brain development

Dr. Limperopoulos talks to a mom

Dr. Catherine Limperopoulos walking with a mom.

Prolonged levels of stress and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to altering key features of fetal brain development — even if the mother was not infected by the virus. This is what a study published in Communications Medicine suggests after following more than 200 pregnant women. The study, led by Children’s National Hospital experts, emphasized the need for more scientific inquiry to shed light on the long-term neurodevelopmental consequences of their findings and COVID-19 exposures on fetal brain development.

“Understanding how contemporary stressors may influence fetal brain development during pregnancy has major implications for basic science and informing public policy initiatives,” said Catherine Limperopoulos, Ph.D., chief and director of the Developing Brain Institute at Children’s National and senior author of the study. “With this work, we are able to show there’s a problem, it’s happening prenatally, and we can use this model to start exploring how we can reduce stress in moms and support unborn babies.”

To better understand the effects of environmental exposures on the fetus during pregnancy, further confirmation of the team’s latest findings is needed by ruling out other possibilities, such as maternal nutrition, financial security and genetic factors.

The psychosocial impact of COVID-19 on fetal brain development remains vastly understudied. The neurologic underpinnings of fetal development that turn into psycho-behavioral disorders later in life, including bipolar disorder, mood disorder or anxiety disorder, remain complex and difficult to explain.

Among the 202 participants from the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, 137 were part of the pre-pandemic cohort and 65 were part of the pandemic cohort.

Through advanced MRI imaging techniques and reconstruction of high-resolution 3D brain models, the researchers found a reduction of fetal white matter, hippocampal and cerebellar volumes and delayed brain gyrification in COVID-19 pandemic-era pregnancies. Validated maternal stress, anxiety and depression scales were also used to compare the scores between the two cohorts.

This study builds upon previous work from the Developing Brain Institute led by Limperopoulos, which discovered that anxiety in pregnant women appears to affect the brain development of their babies. Her team also found that maternal mental health, even in high socioeconomic status, alters the structure and biochemistry of the developing fetal brain, emphasizing the importance of mental health support for pregnant women.

“We’re looking at modifiable conditions,” said Limperopoulos. “What’s clear is the next frontier is intervening early to see how we can prevent or reduce stress in the mom’s current setting.”

PAS Logo

Children’s National Hospital at the 2022 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting

Are you attending the 2022 Pediatric Academic Societies meeting this week? There will be over 20 Children’s National Hospital-affiliated participants at this year’s meeting. We have compiled their sessions into a mini schedule below.

Name Department Role Topic Date Time
Kristen Sgambat, Ph.D., R.D. Center for Translational Research Speaker Fueling our patients for success: Optimizing nutritional support for kids with kidney disease 4/22/2022 2:30 PM
Priti Bhansali, M.D., M.Ed. Child Health Advocacy Institute Co-speaker APA Division Directors/Faculty Development Combined SIG 4/23/2022 8:00 AM
Karen Smith, M.D., M.Ed.
Neha Shah, M.D., M.P.H.
Workshop co-leaders Don’t Struggle In Solitude: Recovery and Peer Support after Unanticipated Outcomes, Errors, and Difficult Conversations 4/23/2022 8:00 AM
Ian Chua, M.D., M.H.P.E.
Gabrina Dixon, M.D., M.Ed.
Margarita Ramos, M.D., M.S.
Workshop co-leaders Finding the DEI in LGBTQIA: Incorporating LGBTQIA diversity in your environment 4/23/2022 8:00 AM
Kevin M. Cook, Ph.D. Co-presenter Early exposure to the extra-uterine environment in premature infants is associated with altered functional brain connectivity compared to in-utero age-matched fetuses 4/23/2022 8:15 AM
Gabrina Dixon, M.D., M.Ed.
Terry Kind, M.D., M.P.H.
Workshop co-leaders Changing the system: Best practices in supporting and advancing underrepresented in medicine (UIM) medical students 4/23/2022 10:00 AM
Yao Wu, Ph.D. Oral abstract presenter Impaired prenatal brain growth predicts adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes in infants with congenital heart disease 4/23/2022 10:00 AM
Lee S. Beers, M.D. General and Community Pediatrics Moderator Scholarship in the Domain of Child Health Advocacy: Making It Work in the Academic Medical Center 4/23/2022 10:00 AM
Chaya Merrill, Dr.P.H. Center for Translational Research Speaker Using data to advance advocacy in the academic medical center 4/23/2022 10:00 AM
Yuan-Chiao Lu, Ph.D. Oral abstract presenter Delayed Fetal Cortical Maturation Predicts 18-Month Neurodevelopment in Infants with Congenital Heart Disease 4/23/2022 10:15 AM
Olanrewaju O. Falusi, M.D., M.Ed. Child Health Advocacy Institute Speaker Generating currency for advancement and professional development in the domain of advocacy 4/23/2022 10:15 AM
Subechhya Pradhan, Ph.D. Oral abstract presenter Abnormal in-vivo brain biochemistry in fetuses with complex congenital heart disease 4/23/2022 10:30 AM
Lenore R. Jarvis, M.D., M.Ed. Emergency Medicine and Trauma Services Speaker Academic advocacy for the subspecialist 4/23/2022 10:30 AM
Jillian E. Nickerson, M.D., M.S. Emergency Medicine and Trauma Services Presenter Utilizing an Online Module Platform to Teach Newborn Delivery and Resuscitation Skills to Pediatric Emergency Medicine Providers 4/23/2022 10:30 AM
Lee S. Beers, M.D. General and Community Pediatrics Presenting Author Leadership in legislative advocacy at the national level 4/23/2022 11:00 AM
Kevin M. Cook, Ph.D. Oral abstract presenter Relative neighborhood disadvantage is associated with increased functional network segregation in fetal brains 4/23/2022 11:15 AM
Jung-Hoon Kim, Ph.D. Presenting Author Gestational age-related changes in the fetal functional connectome: in utero evidence for the global signal 4/23/2022 1:00 PM
Ioannis Koutroulis, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A. Emergency Medicine and Trauma Services Oral abstract presenter Immunometabolism in septic encephalopathy: a novel therapeutic target 4/23/2022 1:00 PM
Terry Kind, M.D., M.P.H. General and Community Pediatrics Workshop co-leaders Making Meaning from the Data: Exploring Coding in Qualitative Research 4/23/2022 1:00 PM
Josepheen D. Cruz, M.D., Ph.D. Oral abstract presenter Cortical thickness changes in fetuses exposed to heightened maternal psychological distress 4/23/2022 1:30 PM
Monika Goyal, M.D., M.S.C.E. Emergency Medicine and Trauma Services Moderator Adolescent Medicine II 4/24/2022 8:00 AM
Binny Chokshi, M.D., M.Ed.
Yael Smiley, M.D.
Workshop co-leaders Applying The Collective Impact Model to Pediatric Health Interventions 4/24/2022 8:00 AM
Aisha Barber, M.D. M.Ed. Hospital Medicine Workshop co-leaders Demystifying DEI in Recruitment: Strategies for Creating a Diverse and Inclusive Residency and Fellow Training Environment 4/24/2022 8:00 AM
Panagiotis Kratimenos, M.D., Ph.D. Neonatology Oral abstract presenter Maternal Immune Activation and Hypoxia Induces Cerebellar Injury 4/24/2022 8:45 AM
Monika Goyal, M.D., M.S.C.E. Emergency Medicine and Trauma Services Co-moderator Emergency Medicine I 4/24/2022 10:00 AM
Priti Bhansali, M.D., M.Ed. Hospital Medicine Workshop co-leaders Making the Most of Peer Mentors within a Diverse Developmental Network: Supporting Scholarship and Academic Advancement 4/24/2022 10:00 AM
Ian Chua, M.D., M.H.P.E.
Gabrina Dixon, M.D., M.Ed.
Karen Smith, M.D., M.Ed.
Hospital Medicine

 

Workshop co-leaders The Art of Negotiation: Applying Negotiation Frameworks to Get More of What You Want in Your Academic Career 4/24/2022 10:00 AM
Matthew Magyar, M.D. Hospital Medicine Oral abstract presenter The association between social needs and unscheduled healthcare utilization among a nationally representative sample of children with asthma 4/24/2022 10:00 AM
Lena A. Saleh, M.D., M.P.H. Oral abstract presenter Machine Learning to Predict the Need for Intensive Care for Pediatric Asthma Exacerbation 4/24/2022 10:30 AM
Christina R. Rojas, M.D. Emergency Medicine and Trauma Services Oral abstract presenter Pediatric Emergency Department Undertriage for Patients with Limited English Proficiency 4/24/2022 10:30 AM
Ololade Okito, M.D. Neonatology Workshop co-leaders Best Practices in DEI Recruitment: Holistic Review and Addressing Systemic Bias 4/25/2022 8:00 AM
Jennifer H. Klein, M.D. Presenter Geography of pediatric health: Using geospatial analysis tools in pediatric care 4/25/2022 8:00 AM
Anand Gourishankar, M.B.B.S., M.R.C.P., M.A.S. Hospital Medicine Presenter Geospatial analysis in pediatric health: Principles, pitfalls, and practice 4/25/2022 8:00 AM
Sarah D. Schlatterer, M.D., Ph.D. Neurology Oral abstract presenter Autonomic Dysfunction and Hemodynamic Instability Precedes Cardiac Arrest in Infants with Congenital Heart Disease 4/25/2022 8:15 AM
Chaya Merrill, Dr.P.H. Presenter Mapping neighborhood-level inequities using the Childhood Opportunity Index 4/25/2022 8:20 AM
Jennifer H. Klein, M.D. Speaker Geospatial distribution of congenital heart disease 4/25/2022 8:40 AM
Ioannis Koutroulis, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A. Emergency Medicine and Trauma Services Panelist APA Urgent Care SIG 4/25/2022 10:00 AM
Priti Bhansali, M.D., M.Ed. Hospital Medicine Workshop co-leaders From Mediocre to Masterly: Using Cognitive Interviewing to Improve the Validity of Your Survey 4/25/2022 10:00 AM
Beth A. Tarini, M.D., M.S. General and Community Pediatrics Speaker SPR Presidential Plenary: “Transforming the Culture of Pediatric Research: We Are the Problem and the Solution 4/25/2022 10:00 AM
Deena Berkowitz, M.D., M.P.H. Emergency Medicine and Trauma Services Speaker 2. UC fellowships and accreditation: the APA pipeline 4/25/2022 10:30 AM
John T. Kulesa, M.D. Hospital Medicine Oral abstract presenter A Descriptive Model for Prioritization and Resource Allocation in Academic Global Health Partnerships 4/25/2022 10:30 AM
Ariella Slovin, M.D. General and Community Pediatrics Speaker APA Well-being and Vitality SIG 4/25/2022 1:00 PM
Melissa Baiyewu, M.H.A., C.H.E.S.
Lin Chun-Seeley, M.A.
Desiree D. de la Torre, M.P.H., M.B.A.
Olanrewaju O. Falusi, M.D., M.Ed.
Chaya Merrill, Dr.P.H.
General and Community Pediatrics Workshop co-leaders Training Faculty Members to Model and Teach Health Equity: A New Faculty Development Curriculum 4/25/2022 1:00 PM
Ariella Slovin, M.D. General and Community Pediatrics Speaker Wellness and Vitality SIG: Overview of endeavors to date and status report on well-being of APA Members 4/25/2022 1:30 PM
Beth A. Tarini, M.D., M.S. General and Community Pediatrics Speaker Navigating Research Careers Through the Currents of Policy and Politics 4/25/2022 1:36 PM
Rebecca S. Lundberg, M.D. Oral abstract presenter Early parenteral nutrition support and preterm cerebellar metabolic maturation 4/25/2022 2:00 PM
Aisha Barber, M.D., M.Ed. Hospital Medicine Workshop co-leader Moving with the Tide: Taking Steps Toward Anti-Racism and Equity 4/233/22 1:00 PM

 

NCC-PDI announcement

Medical device pitch competition returns with $150K in FDA awards

Kolaleh-Eskandanian

“This pitch competition helps to recognize and support the advancement of innovations that can specifically address the needs of pediatric patients,” says Kolaleh Eskandanian, Ph.D., M.B.A., P.M.P., vice president and chief innovation officer at Children’s National Hospital and principal investigator of NCC-PDI.

Recognizing the continued gap in the development and commercialization of medical devices for children versus adults, the National Capital Consortium for Pediatric Device Innovation (NCC-PDI), in collaboration with MedTech Innovator, is accepting applications through April 22, 2022, for its annual “Make Your Medical Device Pitch for Kids!” competition. Recognizing the wide range of unmet needs for diagnostic and therapeutic devices designed especially for children, this year’s competition is open to any innovation in medical technology that addresses a significant unmet need in pediatric medical care.

“As one of the five FDA Pediatric Device Consortia, NCC-PDI is focused on seeking out and addressing significant unmet needs in pediatric medical technology,” says Kolaleh Eskandanian, Ph.D., M.B.A., P.M.P., vice president and chief innovation officer at Children’s National Hospital and principal investigator of NCC-PDI. “While great advances are made in adult medical devices, children are often left behind because the pediatric market is small and there are not incentives to develop for pediatrics. This pitch competition helps to recognize and support the advancement of innovations that can specifically address the needs of pediatric patients.”

Using a virtual format, semi-finalists chosen from all submissions will make their first pitch on May 20, 2022. Up to six finalists selected from this first round will earn participation in a special pediatric-focused track of the MedTech Innovator accelerator program, the largest medical device accelerator in the world, beginning in June 2022. These innovators will then participate in the competition finals in the fall 2022 where judges will award up to $150,000 in FDA-sponsored grants to the devices selected as most impactful and commercially viable.

Unlike devices for adults, the development and commercialization of pediatric medical devices lags behind by approximately five to 10 years. Programs like the NCC-PDI pitch competition and MedTech Innovator accelerator program offer innovators access to expert insight and consultation to help overcome regulatory hurdles and advance the product’s development path.

NCC-PDI is one of five members 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, BioHealth Innovation and design firm Archimedic.

Eskandanian adds that supporting the progress of pediatric innovators is a key focus of the new Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus, a one-of-its-kind ecosystem that drives discoveries that save and improve the lives of children. On a nearly 12-acre portion of the former, historic Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Northwest Washington, D.C., Children’s National has combined its strengths with those of public and private partners, including industry, universities, federal agencies, start-up companies and academic medical centers. The campus provides a rich environment of public and private partners which, like the NCC-PDI network, will help bolster pediatric innovation and commercialization.

For more information and to apply for the upcoming NCC-PDI pitch competition, visit the MedTech Innovator website.

NCC-PDI announcement

Applications for the “Make Your Medical Device Pitch for Kids!” competition are open now through April 22 for innovations that address unmet pediatric needs.

 

life sciences industry imagery

Grand Rounds analyzes the state of life sciences industry in Maryland

life sciences industry imagery

A recent Children’s National Grand Rounds panel analyzed the state of the life sciences industry in the region and the potential steps that can be taken to accelerate the manufacturing landscape.

The BioHealth Capital Region, consisting of Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., has surged in recent years to become one of the nation’s strongest biopharma clusters. While the region does not lack opportunity to cultivate and grow innovation, manufacturing business related to scientific research and development in Maryland is lagging compared to other leading states.

That was the message from Martin Rosendale, CEO of the Maryland Tech Council, who was recently the featured speaker of the Children’s National Grand Rounds panel, which analyzed the state of the life sciences industry in the region and the potential steps that can be taken to accelerate the manufacturing landscape. The Maryland Tech Council is a not-for-profit collaborative community actively engaged in building strong life sciences and technology industries.

Moderated by Kolaleh Eskandanian, Ph.D., M.B.A., P.M.P., vice president and chief innovation officer at Children’s National Hospital, the panel cited data recently compiled by the Milken Institute Center for Regional Economics that demonstrated the degree to which Maryland’s life sciences manufacturing industry needs to catch-up.

“On the manufacturing business front, we’ve actually been lagging compared to the rest of the country. Other metros have grown faster than we have over the last five years, but that presents an opportunity,” says Rosendale. “We have the opportunity to work more with academia and medical institutions like Children’s National to produce more companies, more intellectual property and more startups.”

According to the Milken data, when compared to other leading states including Massachusetts (2nd), California (3rd), New York (8th), Florida (9th) and Texas (12th), Maryland ranked as the 20th state for life sciences manufacturing growth over a five-year period. Of the growth that occurred over that time, the greatest came in the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria and Baltimore-Columbia-Towson metros, where industry wages tend to be higher.

Kolaleh-Eskandanian

Kolaleh Eskandanian, vice president and chief innovation officer at Children’s National Hospital, recently moderated the Children’s National Grand Rounds panel, which analyzed the state of the life sciences industry in the BioHealth Capital Region.

Highlighting the region’s status as a rich biopharma cluster, and the fact that the innovation sector is growing up in and around Washington, D.C., Rosendale identified the key to help bolster life sciences manufacturing in the region – sustaining life sciences business spending in Maryland. Evidence has demonstrated that incentives are a core component of supporting business research and development, and sustained spending has helped support high-tech business formation and high-wage job creation. It has also generated job creation in occupations that require fewer credentials, such as non-tech-intensive industries.

Growth in these areas can be bolstered by Maryland’s existing life sciences landscape, which ranks as one of the strongest and most robust in the nation. It contributes more than 54,000 high paying jobs in the state with over 2,700 life science firms and more than 500 biotech firms, according to a recent Milken Institute report.

“The District of Columbia has a robust pipeline of up-and-coming talent to further develop the life sciences industry in the region. The potential this expertise offers is a key focus of the new Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus, to drives discoveries that save and improve the lives of children,” says Eskandanian. “Children’s National has combined our strengths with those of public and private partners, including industry, universities, federal agencies, start-up companies and academic medical centers, to provide a rich environment to help bolster pediatric innovation and commercialization to further advance the life sciences industry.”

Data from Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN) continues to show that Maryland and the greater BioHealth Capital Region remains one of the country’s premier hubs for innovation companies. The rankings are based on five criteria including NIH funding, VC funding, patents, lab space and jobs. In 2021, the BioHealth Capital Region held its top-four ranking and is expected to rise to a top-three cluster by 2023. The current top-three clusters ranked in the United States are Boston/Cambridge, MA (1st), the San Francisco Bay Area (2nd) and New York/New Jersey (3rd).

Healthcare Equality Index logo

Children’s National receives LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader designation

Healthcare Equality Index logo

Children’s National Hospital is one of 496 health care providers nationwide earning coveted “LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader” designation.

Children’s National Hospital has received a perfect score of 100 and the designation of “LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader” in the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 15th anniversary edition of the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI). This is the nation’s foremost benchmarking survey of health care facilities on policies and practices dedicated to the equitable treatment and inclusion of their LGBTQ+ patients, visitors and employees.

“Our hospital has been on its own journey toward greater diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) since the early 2000s,” says Denice Cora-Bramble, M.D., M.B.A., chief diversity officer at Children’s National. “Over the past two years we have expanded the scope of our DEI work, which included assessing and improving the care to LGBTQ+ patients as well as the work environment for LGBTQ+ staff. Our improvement efforts are being recognized by this designation.”

The HEI evaluates and scores health care facilities on detailed criteria falling under four central pillars:

  • Foundational Policies and Training in LGBTQ+ Patient-Centered Care
  • LGBTQ+ Patient Services and Support
  • Employee Benefits and Policies
  • Patient and Community Engagement

“Every person deserves to have access to quality health care, be respected and heard by their doctor and feel safe in the facility where they are receiving care. But LGBTQ+ people are often subject to discrimination in all spaces, including health care facilities, which leads to members of the community avoiding care and anticipating our voices will not be respected in an incredibly vulnerable environment,” said Tari Hanneman, director of Health & Aging at The Human Rights Campaign. “The HEI, at its core, strives to ensure LGBTQ+ people are protected and affirmed by their health care providers and feel safe seeking services. Our active participants are truly pioneering the health care industry by implementing robust, comprehensive LGBTQ+ inclusive policies that hopefully, because of their work, will become standard practice.”

In addition to active survey participants, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation proactively researched the key policies for LGBTQ+ inclusion at over 1,300 non-participating hospitals. Those hospitals were much less likely to have LGBTQ+ non-discrimination policies in place, which is a stark contrast to the near-perfect adoption by active participants. Among the researched hospitals, in which the Human Rights Campaign Foundation was able to find or obtain enumerated patient non-discrimination policies, only 70% have policies that include both sexual orientation and gender identity compared to 99% of HEI participants.

“We are designing effective, data-driven and responsive programs that will lead to a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace,” says George Francois, M.B.A., executive director of the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders and chair of the Children’s National DEI Program’s LGBTQ+ sub-committee. Francois was a driving force behind the improvement efforts. “More importantly, we are determined to ensure the continued delivery of high-quality health care services to all patients.”