Celebrating Research & Learning in Pediatrics

Pediatrics faculty, residents, fellows, and students came together again to celebrate research accomplishments during the department’s annual Spring Research Day, held Friday, April 13, 2012, at the Health Sciences Learning Center (HSLC).

Grand Rounds and Odell Award

The event was preceded on Thursday, April 12, by a special Grand Rounds presentation by Professor and Chair Ellen Wald, MD.

In her talk, “My Personal Journey: Microbes and More” Dr. Wald shared highlights from over 30 years of research in pediatric infectious disease, including vaccine development for Haemophilus influenzae, study of the pathogenesis and treatment of sinusitis in children, and investigations into the clinical characteristics and spread of Group A streptococcus.

She stressed the importance of research collaboration among faculty and learners, and encouraged everyone in attendance to “stay energized and continue to appreciate the privilege of practicing medicine.”

Also that morning, Assistant Professor Megan Moreno, MD, MSEd, MPH, was presented with the Gerard B. Odell Research Award for her outstanding research accomplishments and potential for future contributions.

Keynote, Oral Presentations, and Posters

Friday’s activities kicked off with a keynote address by Professor James Gern, MD. In his talk, “Navigating Canoes and Careers,” Dr. Gern discussed how the essentials of a canoe trip—including a destination, a map and gear, advice, scheduling, and motivation—parallel what young investigators need to succeed in a research career.

It’s a fitting metaphor for Dr. Gern, who has been canoeing since his teens and has led youth canoe trips for the past 10 years. He concluded by encouraging physicians in training to choose research work that’s meaningful to them. “If you’re excited about what you’re doing, it makes it easier to navigate the ups and downs,” he advised. “If you’re not, re-evaluate your trajectory.”

Dr. Gern’s presentation was followed by five oral presentations:

  • Does The Development of Extreme Pediatric Morbid Obesity Constitute a Form of Medical Neglect? The Case for and Against Legal Intervention (Norman Fost, MD)*
  • Brucella Melitensis Includes the Unfolded Protein Response in Macrophages (Mike Khan, graduate research assistant in the laboratory of Judith Smith, MD, PhD)
  • In Non-Obese Middle School Girls, Ethnic Differences in Fat Deposition and Metabolic Consequences Are Already Present (Peter Wolfgram, MD, pediatric endocrinology fellow)*
  • The ACGME, RRC and You: Understanding the Alphabet Soup (Cathy Lee-Miller, MD)
  • Analysis of Maternal Risk Factors Associated with Congenital Vertebral Malformations (Philip Giampietro, MD, PhD)*

* Presentations were also accepted at the 2012 Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) meeting

Throughout the day, 45 research posters (including 15 by residents) were on display in the HSLC Atrium. That’s nearly a 70% increase from the 26 posters presented in 2011.

Of those posters, 18 (including two by residents) were accepted at the PAS meeting—three times as many as were accepted in 2011—and 11 were accepted at other pediatric research meetings.

The following posters received awards at their respective meetings:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Problematic Internet Use in Older Adolescents: An Experience Sampling Approach (Lauren A Jelenchick, BS, Jens Eickhoff, PhD, Megan A Moreno, MS, MSEd, MPH) – PAS
  • Brucella Melitensis Induces the Unfolded Protein Response in Macrophages (Mike Khan, Diogo M. Magnani, Jerome Harms, Yi-Ping Liu, Gary A. Splitter, Judith Smith, MD, PhD) – American Association of Immunology Annual Meeting

Benefits for Faculty and Learners

Spring Research Day is a valuable forum for sharing current work, fostering future collaborations, and getting feedback from peers and mentors.

For residents, who are required to complete a research project in their third year, it’s often their first opportunity to give an oral or poster presentation. In fact, this year, every third-year resident presented a research project at the event.

Research Day is deliberately held before the major spring research meetings, so anyone whose abstract has also been accepted at a meeting can do a “dry run” of his or her presentation before it goes in front of a national audience.

“At the end of the day, participants can feel confident that their presentation is the best it can be,” said Professor and Vice Chair for Research De-Ann Pillers, MD, PhD, who was on the event’s planning committee along with Dr. Moreno, Philip Giampietro, MD, PhD, and Barbara Anderson, MS. “They can then take that spirit and confidence to the meeting,” she added.

And that benefits faculty and learners alike. “It’s good for residents to see that even faculty need support and mentoring from their colleagues,” said Dr. Moreno, who directs the department’s residency research program. “It helps them understand that research is a continual learning process.”