HuiChuan Lai, PhD, RD, Awarded NIH Funding with Emory University
Congratulations to HuiChuan Lai, PhD, RD, who will serve as a Co-Investigator/Subaward Principal Investigator for a grant from the National Institutes of Health/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NIH-NHLBI) to Emory University, entitled, "Method Development for Survival Dynamic Regression in Chronic Disease Research." This 4-year R01 renewal award to Principal Investigator Limin Peng, PhD (Emory University), will allow for continued collaboration utilizing de-identified data from Dr. Lai's unique multi-center clinical study known as FIRST (Feeding Infants Right... from the STart), being conducted in 6 CF centers in 5 states (WI, IL, IN, MA, UT) to enroll 200 infants with CF diagnosed through newborn screening. Dr. Lai's role in the subaward, worth over $141,000, along with Zhumin Zhang, PhD (Nutritional Sciences), will be to work with Dr. Peng to examine FIRST data and data from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Patient Registry and provide data analysis and scientific interpretations in order to help identify optimal care for infants with Cystic Fibrosis.
Pediatric Faculty Members Help Lead Two Collaborative Health Sciences Grants
Jacques Galipeau, MD (Principal Investigator, Department of Medicine) and Paul Sondel, MD, PhD, Co-Principal Investigator, along with Collaborators Douglas McNeel, MD, PhD (Medicine) and David Beebe, PhD (Biomedical Engineering) and investigators from their labs, were recently awarded a 3-year, $600,000 Collaborative Health Sciences Program grant from the Partnership Education and Research Committee (PERC) of the Wisconsin Partnership Program. This grant, for their project "UW Innovations in Malignancy Personalized Advanced Cell Therapies (UW-IMPACT)," allows for collaboration between the three labs (Galipeau, Sondel, and McNeel), to generate data and examine the potential for the use of autologous B-cells for cancer immunotherapy, in combination with DNA vaccines and immunocytokines, for personalized cell therapies for otherwise incurable adult and pediatric malignancies, including prostate cancer and neuroblastoma, respectively.
Additionally, Anna Huttenlocher, MD (Principal Investigator) will lead a 3-year collaboration with Co-Principal Investigators, David Beebe and Richard Davidson, PhD (Psychology), entitled "Towards an Integrated Understanding of Stress, Inflammation and Immune Response." This grant aims to improve understanding of the complex regulation of the human immune system and the influence of lifestyle factors such as glucose consumption and stress on this regulation. Congratulations to both teams!
Paul Sondel, MD, PhD, Collaborates on NIH Grant
Paul Sondel, MD, PhD, will take part in a U01 grant recently awarded to Principal Investigators Zachary Morris, MD, PhD, (Human Oncology) and Jamey Weichert, PhD, (Radiology). Their grant, entitled, "Immunomodulation of the Tumor Microenvironment with Molecular Targeted Radiotherapy to Facilitate an Adaptive Anti-Tumor Immune Response to Combined Modality Immunotherapies," is part of the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot Initiative through the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute (NIH/NCI), and will provide ~$2.5 million to the UW over 5 years. Dr. Sondel's collaboration with the grant will help develop new approaches to improve the in situ vaccine effect of local radiation therapy by injecting irradiated tumor sites with specific immunotherapies. See link to full story here.
"First in Humans" Neuroblastoma Trial Opens at American Family Children's Hospital, UW Carbone Cancer Center
Adoptive transfer of haploidentical natural killer (NK) cells has shown promise as a treatment option to target and kill cancer cells in a less toxic way than conventional therapies. Now for the first time, scientists will combine NK cell therapy with an immunocytokine to target children with relapsed/refractory neuroblastoma, including those with bulky tumors.
A $136,000 grant from Solving Kids’ Cancer, The Catherine Elizabeth Blair Memorial Foundation, and Wade’s Army is supporting the novel, "first in human" immunotherapy, available only at American Family Children's Hospital.
In the phase I clinical trial, researchers will use a humanized monoclonal antibody linked to IL2, known as hu14.18-IL2, which specifically targets neuroblastoma tumor cells and binds to them, while the IL2 activates NK cells. It is expected that the humanized monoclonal antibody may be more effective at activating the NK cells for killing the cancer cells. Using a novel technique, scientists will collect, expand, and infuse donor NK cells—originating from a parent—into children with neuroblastoma.
The trial, led by Kenneth DeSantes, MD (Professor [CHS] and Division Head, Division of Hematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant), and Paul Sondel, MD, PhD, is now open and currently recruiting at American Family Children’s Hospital.
“We believe this novel immunotherapy approach may potentially provide some benefit for children with relapsed or refractory neuroblastoma, whose prognosis has historically been extremely poor despite the use of aggressive chemotherapy regimens," says Dr. DeSantes. "The NK cells utilized in this trial have an enhanced ability to kill tumor targets. We anticipate that the administration of these activated NK cells, given in combination with an immunocytokine that specifically recognizes neuroblastoma, will result in significant anti-cancer activity."
Children’s Respiratory and Environmental Workgroup Receives New $68M Award from NIH
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded the Children’s Respiratory and Environmental Workgroup (CREW) $68,808,597 for five years to continue collecting standardized data from 10 birth cohorts around the country to better understand environmental causes of allergic diseases and asthma.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison serves as CREW's Administrative Center and Biomedical Informatics and Biostatistical Center. The multicenter project is a collaboration between investigators in the UW Department of Pediatrics (PI James Gern, MD; co-investigators Christine Seroogy, MD; Daniel Jackson, MD; Robert Lemanske, MD; Anne Marie Singh, MD; and project manager Gina Crisafi) and the Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (Umberto Tachinardi, MD; Mark Craven, PhD; Eneida Mendonca, MD, PhD; and Robert Lemanske, MD).
CREW is part of the NIH Environment and Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) consortium, and will also collect information about obesity, neurocognitive development and perinatal outcomes. The application was supported by additional funding from the UW Department of Pediatrics, the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, the UW Institute for Clinical and Translational Research and the UW-Madison Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education.
UW Health Primary Care Clinics Lead the Way in Immunization Rates
Through incredible teamwork to raise awareness about the importance of childhood and adolescent immunizations and vaccinations, UW Health primary care clinics achieved impressive rankings for immunizations, as measured by the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality.
We are currently ranked:
- #1 in Childhood Immunizations
- #2 in HPV Vaccinations
- #4 in Adolescent Immunizations
These achievements highlight our collective commitment to the kids in our care and reflects the level of trust our patients and families have in the advice we give.
In addition, the UW Health Stoughton Clinic is ranked #1 overall for childhood immunizations and received an award for this achievement from the Immunization Coalition!
Congratulations to everyone who coordinated to protect kids from vaccine preventable illness!
How Young Teens See the Smartphone Debate: UW Research Provides Novel Findings
Young adolescents think a child's maturity, not necessarily age, should be a factor in when a child gets a smartphone - and they worry about using that phone to bully other children.
As debate rages on about when a child should get a smartphone, a study led by Megan Moreno, MD, MSEd, MPH, professor of pediatrics and director of the Social Media and Adolescent Health Research Team (SMAHRT) provides novel and sometimes surprising findings that address that and other related questions.
The results of the research were published Oct. 30, 2018, in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
"Our team's findings present novel viewpoints to inform current discussions around the appropriate timing and parental strategies for tweens' first smartphones," said Moreno.
Those viewpoints focused around three issues:
- maturity, as opposed to merely age;
- deference to parents, but having children be part of the conversation; and
- accountability, including preventing cyberbullying and determine who pays for the phone.
The study involved 12 focus groups of tweens otherwise known as early adolescents. A total of 45 participants ages 10 to 14 represented both rural and urban areas.
Paul Sondel, MD, PhD and Team Awarded U54 Subaward from NIH/NCI and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Congratulations to Paul Sondel, MD, PhD, Subaward Principal Investigator, and UW Team Members, Amy Erbe-Gurel, PhD, Jacquelyn Hank, PhD, Zachary Morris, MD, PhD, and Alexander Rakhmilevich, MD, PhD, for their recent subaward through the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and supported by the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute (NIH/NCI). This U54 award was made through the Pediatric Immunotherapy Discovery and Development Network, as part of the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot Initiative, and will provide ~$2.1 million to the UW over 5 years. This collaborative multi-institutional consortium, entitled, "Discovery and Development of Optimal Immunotherapeutic Strategies for Childhood Cancers," has a total award of $12.1 million and is led by overall Principal Investigator, Dr. John Maris at the Center for Childhood Cancer Research at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the Lead Institution, and Co-PI Dr. Crystall Mackall at Stanford University. Dr. Sondel and his team will lead Project 3, "Discovery and development of pediatric cancer antigen targets recognized by adaptive immune response," as well as support two additional projects of the cooperative agreement.
Dr. Elizabeth Cox Publishes New Findings on PROMIS Metrics
Elizabeth D. Cox, MD, PhD and colleagues recently published new findings about the content validity of the Family Relationships measure in the journal, Health and Quality of Life Outcomes. This NIH-funded study used qualitative methods to assess whether this new patient-reported outcome measure reflects the experiences of children with chronic conditions. The authors found that the Family Relationships measure, which had been developed and validated in a general pediatric population, does capture the experience of family relationships for chronically ill children. For the study, over 30 children with asthma, sickle cell disease, or type 1 diabetes and their parents were interviewed about their family experiences and the impact of chronic illness on those relationships. Interviewees described their family relationships in a manner consistent with the facets of the PROMIS® metric. Findings suggest potential utility for this metric in research and clinical practice with chronically ill children and their families.
Flynn KE, Kliems H, Saoji N, Svenson J, Cox ED. Content validity of the PROMIS® pediatric family relationships measure for children with chronic illness. Health Qual Life Outcomes. 2018;16:203. doi:
Dr. Inga Hofmann's Research Team Discovers Cause for Myelofibrosis
An eight-year quest to find the cause of a disease has apparently ended now that scientists at UW-Madison have identified the mutations that produce a form of myelofibrosis, a rare genetic blood disorder.
Mutations in a protein that controls the production of blood platelets appear to be the source of a genetically inherited form of macrothrombocytopenia with focal myelofibrosis, according to Inga Hofmann, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, medical director for the UW Program for Advanced Cell Therapy, and lead author on the paper.
The results were recently featured as the September cover article in the journal Blood.
Hofmann and her team showed that the protein, G6b-B, which also regulates the production and function of megakaryocyte – a large bone marrow cell –can be manipulated to increase production of blood platelets, suggesting a potentially new treatment approach, Hofmann said.
“This is the first cause ever identified,” she said.
Full story on SMPH website...