News & Events

  • Dr. Inga Hofmann Named Medical Director of Program for Advanced Cell Therapy

    Inga Hofmann, MD
    Inga Hofmann, MD

    The Program for Advanced Cell Therapy (PACT), a collaboration of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and UW Carbone Cancer Center, has chosen its first medical director.

    Dr. Inga Hofmann, assistant professor of pediatric hematology, oncology and bone marrow transplant at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH), will assume the medical director role at the recently completed $1 million addition to the Clinical Hematopoietic Cell Processing Laboratory at University Hospital.

    “Dr. Hofmann will be an incredible asset to our team because she brings her Dana-Farber expertise in clinical science for bone marrow disorders for the benefit of children and adults in need of novel experimental cell therapies,” said Dr. Jacques Galipeau, PACT director, and assistant dean of therapeutics discovery and development in the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.

    Hofmann will manage the interaction between patients, SMPH, American Family Children’s Hospital clinical trials office and PACT as the program works to develop manufactured hematopoietic cells, enhanced lymphocytes, mesenchymal stem cells and other cell types for clinical trials.

    She will work directly with her colleagues in the pediatric and adult bone marrow transplant program at UW Health to extract or inject stem cells in patients and integrate the Food and Drug Administration-sanctioned clinical trials that PACT will execute.

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  • Exposure to Pet and Pest Allergens During Infancy Linked to Reduced Asthma Risk

    James Gern, MD
    James Gern, MD

    Children exposed to high indoor levels of pet or pest allergens during infancy have a lower risk of developing asthma by seven years of age, new research supported by the National Institutes of Health reveals. The findings, published September 19 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, may provide clues for the design of strategies to prevent asthma from developing.

    While previous studies have established that reducing allergen exposure in the home helps control established asthma, the new findings suggest that exposure to certain allergens early in life, before asthma develops, may have a preventive effect.

    The observations come from the ongoing Urban Environment and Childhood Asthma (URECA) study, which is funded by NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) through its Inner-City Asthma Consortium.

    “Our observations imply that exposure to a broad variety of indoor allergens, bacteria and bacterial products early in life may reduce the risk of developing asthma,” said Dr. James E. Gern, the principal investigator of URECA and a professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. “Additional research may help us identify specific targets for asthma prevention strategies.”

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  • David Bernhardt, MD, Awarded the 2017 Shaffer Award

    David Bernhardt, MD
    David Bernhardt, MD

    Congratulations to David Bernhardt, MD, who was recently awarded the 2017 Shaffer Award, sponsored by Nationwide Children's Hospital. This prestigious award from the Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness (COSMF) recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to the field of pediatric sports medicine by displaying leadership and vision, providing quality presentations, and publishing documents relevant to this specialty. Recipients receive a plaque, honorarium, and reimbursement for expenses to attend the COSMF H program, which was held at the 2017 American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition, September 16 in Chicago.

  • CLR 131 Found to Broadly Target Pediatric Solid Tumors

    Mario Otto, MD
    Mario Otto, MD

    According to a new study by UW Carbone Cancer Center (UWCCC) researchers, a broadly applicable cancer therapy currently being developed by Cellectar Biosciences may have the potential to work in pediatric solid tumors.

    CLR 131 (formerly known as CLR1404) delivers high doses of cell-killing radioactive iodine specifically to cancer cells. It could become the first targeted, molecular radiotherapy to be tested in clinical trials that treats a broad variety of solid tumors in children.

    “Translating our findings in a pediatric clinical trial will be huge because, for the first time, we could offer molecular targeted radiotherapy for practically all pediatric solid tumors, including brain tumors,” said Dr. Mario Otto, a pediatric oncologist and researcher with UWCCC and American Family Children’s Hospital. “But it’s also huge from a regulatory standpoint. Pediatric cancers are relatively rare, so getting cancer-specific drugs or clinical trial protocols developed is very difficult.”

    Many pediatric cancers have very poor overall survival rates once they relapse or if they do not respond to initial standard treatments. Radiotherapy plays an important role in the successful treatment of these cancers. However, if the cancer has metastasized to many sites, external beam radiotherapy becomes impracticable and too harmful to healthy body tissues.

    For metastatic cancers, a more useful form of radiation therapy injects targeted radioactive substances to reach tumor cells throughout the body. With the exception of a neuroblastoma drug, these radioactive substances do not exist to treat pediatric cancers.

    The drug CLR 131 broadly targets cancer cells due to the specific makeup of tumor cell membranes while sparing healthy tissue. CLR 131 had already been tested in models of adult cancers and found to target cancer cells with very high specificity, and is currently being tested in clinical trials in adult cancers.

    The study was published in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine

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  • Sue Burke, Amy Cashin Named to 2017 Elizabeth S. Pringle Award Roll of Honor

    Amy Cashin
    Amy Cashin
    Susan Burke
    Sue Burke

    Department of Pediatrics Chair Dr. Ellen Wald congratulates Sue Burke, chair's office administrative coordinator, and Amy Cashin, cardiology coordinator, on being named to the 2017 Elizabeth S. Pringle Award Roll of Honor! These nominations were for University Staff office support and came from peers, taking the following criteria into account:

    • Promoting the image of the department or university through continual extension of service and courtesy to students, employees and the public
    • Consistently promoting excellence in him/herself and colleagues
    • Exhibiting leadership and maintaining grace under pressure/deadlines/crisis situations
    • Initiating/recommending innovative ideas which are implemented and result in better service or efficiency
    • Community service outside the university or within the university but not part of job responsibilities
    • Behavior or personality that makes the workplace more pleasant

    Please know how much we appreciate your efforts and the vital role you play in supporting the missions of our department and contributing to its success!

  • American Family Children's Hospital Turns 10

    In August 2017, American Family Children's Hospital – a place that has played a key role in the lives of thousands of children - joined the 10-year-old birthday club.

    Incredibly, a decade has passed since about 50 hospitalized kids were transported from the old University of Wisconsin Children's Hospital (located inside University Hospital) to a modern, state-of-the-art facility made possible through much persistence and an unbelievably generous amount of community support.

    Quality pediatric care has always been a hallmark of UW Health, but it wasn't very long ago that its children's hospital left something to be desired in terms of space and amenities. Prior to the 2007 opening of American Family Children's Hospital, UW's 61 pediatric inpatient rooms were private but cramped – about the size of a nice walk-in closet. Parents typically slept in reclining chairs or cots, while "special touch" amenities to help make life in the hospital a little easier were sparse.

    After some collaborative discussions, Madison-based American Family Insurance in 2003 provided the catalyst to turn what seemed like a distant hope into reality by announcing a $10 million naming gift to build a world-class children's hospital that would be separate from - but connected to - University Hospital in Madison. 

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  • Study: Early Farm Exposure Mitigates Respiratory Illnesses, Allergies and Skin Rashes

    James Gern, MD
    James Gern, MD
    Christine Seroogy, MD
    Christine Seroogy, MD

    Exposure to dairy farms early in life may dramatically reduce the frequency and severity of respiratory illnesses, allergies and chronic skin rashes among young children, according to a collaborative study by Dr. Christine Seroogy, Dr. James Gern and researchers at the Marshfield Clinic.

    “Seeing decreased allergies in farm-exposed children from the Marshfield area is in agreement with similar findings in Western Europe that found farm exposure is linked to allergic disease and wheezing illnesses,” said Seroogy. “But this is the first study to show an association between farm exposure and reduced medically-attended respiratory illnesses.”

    The study, published online by the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, was conducted in the Marshfield Epidemiologic Study Area. It compared 268 children ages five to 17 who lived on a dairy farm from birth to five years to 247 children who live in a rural area but never lived on a farm. The study included the use of questionnaires and review of electronic medical records.

    Conditions that were significantly less common in farm-exposed children were allergic rhinitis or hay fever (17 percent compared to 28 percent) and eczema (7 percent versus 19 percent). The study found children born onto dairy farms had much less severe respiratory illnesses during the first two years of life (16 percent in farm infants compared to 31 percent in non-farm infants.)

    “These findings suggest that environmental exposures or other elements of the farming lifestyle help kids to be resistant to both allergies and viral respiratory illnesses,” said Gern.

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  • American Family Children's Hospital First in Wisconsin to Offer Newly-Approved CAR-T Leukemia Therapy

    Posted: August 2017
    Christian Capitini, MD
    Christian Capitini, MD

    A unique new therapy for children and young adults with a particular form of leukemia received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval on August 30, 2017. American Family Children's Hospital will be one of a handful of certified treatment centers nationwide that offer the treatment, another example of personalized medicine.

    Known as chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapy, Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel) was approved to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) that has resisted other treatment or has relapsed a second time. CAR-T cell therapy engineers a child's immune cells (called T-cells) to express a CAR to attach to and eliminate those leukemia cells that express a specific antigen on their cell surface.

    The extracted T-cells are sent to a processing center where they are reprogrammed to express the receptor, and then shipped back to American Family Children's Hospital for infusion into the child with relapsed leukemia. The collection of the patient’s T-cells and the infusion of the CAR-T cells are both outpatient procedures.

    American Family Children's Hospital was one of a small number of sites that conducted clinical trials for CAR-T cell therapy. One patient has been in "deep remission" for several months, according to site principal investigator Dr. Christian Capitini.

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  • Dr. Elizabeth Cox, Collaborators Receive PCORI Funding to Improve Intimate Partner Violence Screening

    Posted: August 2017
    Elizabeth Cox, MD, PhD
    Elizabeth Cox, MD, PhD

    Elizabeth Cox, MD, PhD, in collaboration with partners from the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence and West Virginia University, recently received approval for a Pipeline to Proposal Tier II award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

    This award through PCORI’s Pipeline to Proposal Awards program will support the West Virginia Asking Women About Relationship Experiences (AWARE) Collaborative for Intimate Partner Violence Screening.

    Although 7 million U.S. women experience intimate partner violence (IPV), only 3-10% of IPV victims are identified by healthcare professionals due to low screening rates. These rates are especially low in underserved rural areas due to geographic and social isolation.

    The West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence will lead this project to transform the healthcare system’s response to intimate partner violence.

    Read more on the Health Innovation Program website.

  • Dr. Christine Seroogy and Colleagues Receive UW-Madison Community-University Partnership Award

    Posted: July 2017

    In recognition of their efforts to improve the health of Plain families in Wisconsin, Christine Seroogy, MD, and colleagues on the Wisconsin Plain Community Project received a 2017 UW-Madison Community-University Partnership Award from Chancellor Rebecca Blank on June 28, 2017.

    The award recognizes the work of UW-Madison faculty, staff, students---and their community partners across Wisconsin---as they address pressing public issues in Madison and the region.

    Founded in 2012 as a collaboration between the La Farge Medical Clinic (medical director: James DeLine, MD) and Department of Pediatrics faculty, the Wisconsin Plain Community Project aims to improve access to culturally sensitive, high-quality, affordable care for Plain families.

    In 2015, Dr. DeLine founded the Center for Special Children as a dedicated space within the clinic for the care of children with genetic conditions. This achievement represented the culmination of the collaboration’s vision.

    The collaboration has continued to improve the health of Plain children in Wisconsin, and has also translated to biomedical research projects, informed approaches to medical care for all children, and improved the educational experience of students on campus.

    Dr. Seroogy and colleagues receive a UW-Madison Community-University Partnership Award

    Back row, from left: Murray Katcher, MD (UW Department of Pediatrics); Christine Seroogy, MD (UW Department of Pediatrics); Gregory Rice, MD (UW Department of Pediatrics); Jessica Scott-Schwoerer, MD (UW Department of Pediatrics); Jennifer Laffin, PhD, FACMG (UW Department of Pediatrics); Kyle Bakkum (Vernon Memorial Healthcare CEO)

    Front row, from left: Rebecca Blank (UW-Madison chancellor); Mei Baker, MD (UW Department of Pediatrics); Gretchen Spicer (LaFarge Medical Clinic, Vernon Memorial Healthcare); Ellen Wald, MD (UW Department of Pediatrics chair); James DeLine, MD (LaFarge Medical Clinic, Vernon Memorial Healthcare); Ashley Kuhl, MS, CGC (UW Department of Pediatrics); Leslie Orrantia (UW-Madison director of community relations)

    Photo by Bryce Richter, University Communications