Four physician-scientists from the University of Wisconsin Department of Pediatrics were recently selected to join the Society for Pediatric Research (SPR). Awni Al-Subu, MD (Assistant Professor, Division of Critical Care), Tony Garcia-Prats, MD, MSc, PhD (Associate Professor, Divisions of General Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine and Global Pediatrics), Dinushan Kaluarachchi, MBBS (Assistant Professor, Division of Neonatology & Newborn Nursery), and Emma Mohr, MD, PhD (Assistant Professor, Division of Infectious Diseases), were peer nominated and elected in recognition of their accomplishments in generating new knowledge to improve the health of children.
Membership in SPR marks the member’s standing as an internationally recognized pediatric researcher. To celebrate this elite honor, we asked Al-Subu, Garcia-Prats, Kaluarachchi and Mohr to discuss their current research interests.
Awni Al-Subu, MD
During his fellowship training in pediatric critical care medicine at Duke University, it was interactions with children who suffered from acute respiratory failure and cardiac arrest that inspired Awni Al-Subu, MD, to enter research.
“I realized that we were in dire need of developing and utilizing accurate, real-time, noninvasive monitoring technologies of both oxygenation and circulation,” stated Al-Subu. “This fueled my interest in studying the utilization of volumetric capnography and Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) in the care of critically ill children, especially while managing Acute Lung Injury (ALI) and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).” Read more.
Tony Garcia-Prats, MD, MSc, PhD
“My interest in research developed organically during my time doing clinical work in Africa caring for children with HIV,” stated Tony Garcia-Prats, MD, MSc. After residency, Garcia-Prats joined the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI) in 2006 and moved to Maseru, Lesotho, to work in BIPAI’s pediatric HIV clinic.
“The experience was transformative for me,” reflected Garcia-Prats. “My colleagues and I were challenged daily by questions about how to optimally care for these children, but we lacked evidence-based guidance.” Read more.
Dinushan Kaluarachchi, MBBS
As a clinician and pediatric researcher, Dinushan Kaluarachchi, MBBS, is working to help preterm infants achieve their best potential in life. The focus of his clinical and epidemiological research is to better understand neonatal diseases, specifically thyroid hormone dysfunction in preterm infants. Kaluarachchi also studies the screening and management of patent ductus arteriosus and pulmonary hypertension in preterm infants.
“There are still gaps in knowledge and uncertainties as to the best ways to manage extremely preterm infants,” stated Kaluarachchi. “My goal is to advance knowledge and refine management strategies to achieve the best possible outcomes for extremely preterm infants.” Read more.
Emma Mohr, MD, PhD
When the Zika virus epidemic swept through South America in 2015, Emma Mohr, MD, PhD, was a pediatric infectious diseases fellow. “That’s when I became interested in congenital virus infection research,” reflected Mohr. “There was a great need to combine pediatric clinical expertise with basic virology to figure out the virus associated with the epidemic of microcephaly.”
Today Mohr’s research focuses on improving the health of children affected by congenital viral infections. She studies Zika virus and how it results in developmental deficits in prenatally exposed children. Read more.
About the Society for Pediatric Research
SPR’s mission is to create a network of multidisciplinary researchers to improve child health. Specifically, it works to facilitate active communications among and between researchers; promote research collaborations through mentoring and knowledge sharing; and advocate for funding and policies supportive of research. Election into the SPR also provides a gateway for investigators to enhance their own research through annual conferences and journal publications. In total, 34 Department of Pediatrics faculty are SPR members.