Drs. Christian Capitini, David McCulley Named Odell Award Winners for 2018 and 2019
Two Department of Pediatrics faculty— Christian Capitini, MD (Assistant Professor, Division of Hematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant) and David McCulley, MD (Assistant Professor, Division of Neonatology and Newborn Nursery)—have been named winners of the University of Wisconsin Department of Pediatrics Gerard B. Odell Research Award.
Dr. Capitini is the 2018 award winner; Dr. McCulley is the 2019 award winner.
The $5,000 award is given to an assistant or associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics in recognition of outstanding research accomplishments and demonstrated potential for future contributions. It was established in 1994 to honor Dr. Odell's distinguished career in pediatric research, academia, clinical practice and education.
Dr. Capitini was nominated for his outstanding progress as an independent investigator in bone marrow transplant and cancer immunotherapy. In 2018, he received a highly competitive American Cancer Society Research Scholar Grant, his first NIH/NCI R01 research grant, and five additional grants [two each from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and UW Carbone Cancer Center, and one from the Midwest Athletes against Childhood Cancer (MACC) Fund]. He is also a local leader in cutting-edge clinical research on CAR T cells, and a well-recognized national spokesperson for pediatric cancer cell therapy and immunotherapy.
Dr. McCulley was nominated for establishing an independent research program that studies the genetic and developmental mechanisms of the life-limiting lung and pulmonary vascular defects associated with diaphragmatic hernia. He was the recipient of the James Sutherland Junior Faculty Research Award from the Midwest Society for Pediatric Research (MWSPR), an organization he will lead as president in 2020. He was also recently promoted to a full member of the Perinatal Research Society and was selected to join the national Society for Pediatric Research. Finally, his 2018 article, "PBX transcription factors drive pulmonary vascular adaptation to birth," was highlighted in the February 2018 edition of the Journal for Clinical Investigation and was the recipient of the Perinatal Research Society's Associate Member Research Publication Award.
Drs. Capitini and McCulley will receive their awards at the Odell Lecture this spring.
Dr. Ryan Coller Wins Federal Challenge to Build App for Families with Children with Complex Health Care Needs
Ryan Coller, MD, MPH (Assistant Professor, Division of Hospital Medicine) and , an assistant professor of industrial engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering, have won a share of a $100,000 award to develop technology for families caring for children with complex medical needs at home.
The award comes from the . Only seven winners were selected nationally.
Drs. Coller and Werner are working on a mobile app called @HOME that aims to connect and support families caring for children who need enteral tubes (lsuch as tubes into the stomach or intestines to safely give medications, nutrition and hydration) in a home setting.
“Among children with complex medical needs, 30 percent of all emergency department visits and 17 percent of all hospitalizations were due to device complications at home. The majority were from enteral tubes, and we think a number of these might be prevented by better supporting families,” said Dr. Coller, who is also a co-founder of the at American Family Children’s Hospital.
Dr. Coller said the Phase I prototype will be developed by partnering with families. That portion of the research will be guided by Barbara Katz, co-director of . Katz will lead family engagement during design sessions with socioeconomically diverse family caregivers who manage enteral tubes.
In Phase II, the prototype will be developed, and small-scale testing will be conducted through July 2019.
Three to five of the original seven awardees will be given a share of $125,000 to advance to Phase III. During this phase, teams will test their interventions on a larger scale and one will be selected to receive a grand prize of $150,000.
For more information about the @HOME app vision, watch this .
Elizabeth Cox Serves as Advisor on New PCORI Award
Elizabeth Cox MD PhD is collaborating with Dr. Karla Ausderau, an Assistant Professor in Kinesiology in the UW School of Education, to develop processes and tools that engage people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in research. The work aims to: 1) develop a skilled community of stakeholders to advise researchers and 2) to generate research priorities for this community in collaboration with these stakeholders. This 2-year project recently received funding from the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute.
Alex Pieper, Graduate Student in Sondel Laboratory, Appointed to ICTR TL1 Program
Congratulations to Alex Pieper, graduate student in the Sondel Laboratory, who was recently appointed to the TL1 program supported by the UW Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR). This award provides an annual stipend, tuition, insurance, fees, and a travel allowance in support of his project, "Influence of Treatment Regimen and Tumor Type on Concomitant Immune Tolerance." Alex's research, under the direction of mentor Paul Sondel, MD, PhD, will utilize two separate in situ cancer vaccines to investigate the mechanisms by which anti-tumor responses can be induced at multiples sites of disease in preclinical murine models.
Peter Carlson Awarded Fellowship from NIH
Congratulations to Peter Carlson, graduate student in the Sondel Laboratory, on funding of his Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Predoctoral Fellowship (F30) for MD/PhD and Other Dual Degrees from the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute (NIH-NCI). This 3-year, fellowship, in the amount of $107,143, is under the sponsorship of Paul Sondel, MD, PhD, and co-Sponsorhip of Zachary Morris, MD, PhD (Human Oncology). The purpose of the F30 program is to enhance the integrated research and clinical training of promising predoctoral students who are matriculated in a combined MD/PhD or other dual-doctoral degree training program, and who intend careers as physician-scientists or other clinician-scientists. Peter's project, "Molecular targeted radiotherapy to overcome resistance to in situ cancer vaccination," will build on the expertise of the Sondel and Morris labs to probe the mechanism of concomitant immune tolerance (CIT). The grant will provide insight into how these murine cancers avoid and escape immune destruction, how immune escape can be overcome in these settings, and will be used to establish a novel combination immunotherapy that could be readily translated into clinical testing.
Jasmine Zapata, MD, MPH, Receives New Investigator Grant from Wisconsin Partnership Program
Congratulations to Jasmine Zapata, MD, MPH, who was recently awarded a New Investigator Grant from the Partnership Education and Research Committee (PERC) of the Wisconsin Partnership Program. This 2-year grant in the amount of $150,000, will support the project, "Addressing Black Infant Mortality in Wisconsin through a Collaborative Health Equity Approach to Community-Based, Group Prenatal Care and Infant Support." This project aims to reduce current birth outcome inequities that exist in Wisconsin, and brings together community-based groups, investigators, healthcare providers, and pregnant mothers to implement and investigate a novel approach that combines aspects of three evidence-based models and builds upon emerging evidence about how to effectively implement and sustain prenatal care interventions in Black communities. Uniting the three models of: 1) community-based doula programs, 2) group-based models of prenatal care such as Centering Pregnancy, and 3) community-based pregnancy and inter conception support groups, this project will undertake a novel approach entitled, Today Not Tomorrow Pregnancy and Infant Support Program (TNT-PISP). The TNT-PISP approach is based on increasing evidence that models of prenatal care that are community driven, group based, culturally relevant, family centered, and include enhanced social support have the potential to significantly decrease African American prematurity rates and improve other maternal and infant health measures.
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 CenterPosted: November 2018
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."