Funded Research

Festival of Trees – Evergreen Endowment:
Research Projects at Children’s Hospital of Michigan

Funding from the Festival of Trees has been a crucial source of support for innovative pediatric research projects at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan that have advanced the science and practice of pediatric health care. The Evergreen Endowment provides seed funding that supports preliminary research projects that allow physician-scientists to develop new models of a disease or to evaluate the efficacy of a new intervention or treatment. This kind of support is vitally important to help advance research projects to the point where they can attract external funding, because researchers cannot successfully compete for federal grants without preliminary data. Several nationally known research programs at Children’s were initiated with research funds from the Festival of Trees.


2017

Bladder Stimulation and Clean Catch Urine Collection in Infants

Summary: This study will determine the feasibility of utilizing a clean catch urine process in infants with urinary tract infections in a pediatric ER department instead of catheterization, leading to a decrease in cost, discomfort and potential risk.

Project Description: Urinary tract infection is the most common serious bacterial infection among febrile infants, occurring in 7% of children less than 24 months of age evaluated for fever without a source. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends obtaining a urine specimen for urinalysis and culture via catheterization, but this gold standard approach is invasive, painful, and presents risk to the infant. As an alternative, a new non-invasive technique for obtaining a mid-stream clean catch urine sample in infants has been described. This approach couples feeding with bladder stimulation.

Previous studies have demonstrated that this non-invasive method is quick with contamination rates similar to catheterization. These studies, however, relied upon trained personnel thereby limiting their generalizability. This study will be the first to evaluate the feasibility of incorporating this technique into clinical practice in a busy, urban, academic Pediatric Emergency Department. In training over one hundred staff, this study aims to demonstrate that minimal training is required to provide an approach to urine collection for young infants that will be well tolerated by infants and preferred by providers and parents when compared with catheterization.


Childhood Obesity and Immune Response to Vaccinations

Summary: This study will investigate the relationship between childhood obesity and secondary immunodeficiency that may cause vaccinations to be less effective.

Project Description: Obesity is a major health issue in children in Detroit. Unfortunately, these children have more frequent and severe infections as compared to other non-obese children. These children are may have more frequent illnesses because they are immune-compromised. Immune dysregulations have been previously reported in obese animals and adult humans, but this relationship has not been studied in children. In older adults who are immune-compromised, investigators have noted that immunizations are less effective than in the general population. This project will investigate whether childhood immunizations are effective in obese children and can protect them from infections. Investigators will evaluate the antibody titers that occur from routine vaccinations in obese children as compared to children with normal body-mass index (BMI) and the reference protective antibody titers. This project will be the first pilot study to examine the effectiveness of routine childhood immunization in obese children compared to their normal BMI peers. Findings from this project may lead to an early intervention to improve the efficacy of routine immunization and reduce infection rates and infectious morbidity in obese children. The results of this study may also assist in further identifying the mechanism(s) that compromise immune function in obesity and the development of new methods restoring the immune systems from chronic inflammatory stage in obesity.


Pulmonary Hypertension in the Preterm Neonate

Summary: This study seeks to identify genetic biomarkers for early diagnosis and novel therapeutic strategies for the prevention and treatment of pulmonary hypertension associated with bronchopulmonary dysplasia in premature infants.

Project Description: Preterm birth and its consequences constitute a major health problem in the US and in Michigan. With advances in perinatal care, modest reductions in several complications of prematurity have been observed except bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), the most common chronic lung disease of preterm birth, which has actually increased. BPD is characterized by aberrant pulmonary development and lifelong alterations in cardiopulmonary functions. It has been increasingly recognized that pulmonary hypertension (PH) may develop as a consequence of BPD in over one-third of preterm infants and contribute to the severity and persistence of BPD symptoms and poor short and long-term outcome, including higher mortality, persistently elevated pulmonary arterial pressures, chronic oxygen insufficiency, cardiopulmonary instability, and right heart dysfunction. These conditions lead to longer hospital stays and poor growth and neurodevelopmental outcomes in those premature infants who survive. Historically, much focus has been on the treatment of BPD and/or PH once symptoms are diagnosed and the disease is well established. More recently, it has been recognized that BPD and associated PH starts early in life with genetic factors interacting with pre- and postnatal environmental exposures to exert specific long-term effects on lung structure and functions. Despite decades of promising research, primary prevention of BPD and associated PH has proven elusive. Improved understanding of the pathophysiological mechanisms of BPD will facilitate the development of tailored, personalized therapeutic approaches, while reducing health care costs. This study seeks to identify and validate early biomarkers that predict later disease and serve as surrogates for long-term outcomes to facilitate early diagnosis and enable the development of novel therapeutic strategies for the prevention and treatment of PH associated with BPD in premature infants.


2016
Schizophrenia Research led by Dr. Vaibhav Diwadkar
(originally being conducted by Dr. Monica Uddin)
The purpose is to study the interaction of developmental, environmental and genetic factors
and the impact of stress (particularly during adolescence) on the brain network function in
schizophrenia patients.

Sickle Cell Research led by Dr. Patrick Hines
The purpose is to understand pathways and adhesion of sickle cells in order to identify possible
alternative therapies for sickle cell patients.

Extubation Readiness Research led by Dr. Sanjay Chawla
The purpose is to develop a reliable tool for assessing when extremely premature infants are
ready to have intubation tubes removed.


2015

Extubation Readiness Study (Year Two) – Dr. Sanjay Chawla
Most preterm infants require endotracheal intubation and mechanical ventilation, an invasive therapy with adverse effects. Determining the optimal time for extubation (removal) is critical to the success of the procedure and for reducing morbidity, and this study seeks to develop an automated prediction of extubation readiness in extreme preterm infants.

Functional Brain Mapping for Epilepsy (Year Two) – Dr. Eisha Asano
About 1% of the general population has epilepsy, while one-fifth of epilepsy is medically intractable. The goals of this project are: 1) to generate a model to predict the long-term language outcomes following epilepsy surgery, and 2) to better understand how the language system works during speech, using electrocorticography gamma mapping of the brain. This study seeks to map and investigate the language areas in the brain in children, and to develop a model to predict the long-term outcomes on these areas and on language in children following epilepsy surgery.

Music Therapy in the NICU (Year Two) – Dr. Deepak Kamat
The study explores the effect of music exposure on the maturity of the autonomic nervous system. Neonates born prematurely (infants 27 to 34 weeks) are under stress of various invasive procedures during prolonged stays in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Music Therapy is often used in older children to reduce stress and the response to pain, and this study will explore if music exposure at safe levels can improve outcomes for neonates.


2014

Schizophrenia Research – Drs. Monica Uddin and Vaibhav Diwadkar
Relatives of schizophrenia patients have a high risk of psychiatric disorders in the future, but how to mediate this risk for this illness remains unclear. This research would study the epigenetics, stress and impact on brain function in schizophrenia patients to understand how these factors might mediate this risk in adolescence.

Music Therapy in the NICU – Dr. Deepak Kamat
The study explores the effect of music exposure on the maturity of the autonomic nervous system. Neonates born prematurely (infants 27 to 34 weeks) are under stress of various invasive procedures during prolonged stays in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Music Therapy is often used in older children to reduce stress and the response to pain, and this study will explore if music exposure at safe levels can improve outcomes for neonates.

Test Recommendation System –  Dr. Michael Klein
This study investigates whether various test factors can improve test recommendations of a clinical decision support system. This study also analyses the selection of test by a doctor, in this case by studying whether the consideration of various test factors (monetary cost, time requirements, amount of information provided, etc.) can improve the test recommendations in order to determine if these factors can reduce diagnosis times, decrease costs and decrease the risks and discomfort of testing.

Extubation Readiness Study – Dr. Sanjay Chawla
Most preterm infants require endotracheal intubation and mechanical ventilation, an invasive therapy with adverse effects. Determining the optimal time for extubation (removal) is critical to the success of the procedure and for reducing morbidity, and this study seeks to develop an automated prediction of extubation readiness in extreme preterm infants.

Automated Endoscopic Camera Positioning System – Abhlash Pandya, Ph.D.
This study seeks to develop an optimized control mechanism for automated camera positioning for faster and more efficient endoscopic operations, allowing for improved outcomes for patients.

Functional Brain Mapping for Epilepsy – Dr. Eisha Asano
About 1% of the general population has epilepsy, while one-fifth of epilepsy is medically intractable. The goals of this project are: 1) to generate a model to predict the long-term language outcomes following epilepsy surgery, and 2) to better understand how the language system works during speech, using electrocorticography gamma mapping of the brain. This study seeks to map and investigate the language areas in the brain in children, and to develop a model to predict the long-term outcomes on these areas and on language in children following epilepsy surgery.


2013

Sleep Apnea Research – Dr. Larisa Kovacevic
Continuation of the 2011 study that explores the relationship between sleep apnea and nocturnal enuresis (inability to control urination) in order to reduce enuresis in these patients.

Down Syndrome Research – Dr. Jeffrey Taub
Continuation of the 2011 study that examines why children with Down Syndrome are up to 20 times more likely to develop Leukemia to help better understand the disease and possible treatments.

Ending Recurrent Ear Infections – Dr. James Coticchia
Continuation of the 2012 study that seeks to develop novel and less invasive treatments for recurrent ear infections in children.

Improving Outcomes by Improving Communication – Dr. April Carcone
Continuation of the 2012 study that investigates whether improved communication with healthcare providers can improve treatment outcomes and increase patient satisfaction in children newly diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.


2012

New Treatment for Sickle Cell-Related Diseases – Dr. Patrick Hines
This study explores the use of asthma medication to treat sickle cell disease patients who also have other pulmonary vascular diseases.

Young Parents and Prenatal Substance Use – Dr. Christopher Trentacosta
This study examines the history of prenatal drug and alcohol use in new parents as a predictor of their parenting abilities, and investigates the effect it has on their children’s conduct and self-control.

Ending Recurrent Ear Infections – Dr. James Coticchia
This study seeks to develop novel and less invasive treatments for recurrent ear infections in children.

Improving Outcomes by Improving Communication – Dr. April Carcone
This study investigates whether improved communication with healthcare providers can improve treatment outcomes and increase patient satisfaction in children newly diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.


2011

Enuresis Research – Dr. Larisa Kovacevic
This research is studying the factors that may be responsible for the effect of removal of tonsils and adenoids on bedwetting in children.

Generating Stem Cells for Down Syndrome and Leukemia Research – Dr. Jeffrey Taub
Although most children with Leukemia have no known predisposed risk factors, this study examines why children with Down Syndrome are up to 20 times more likely to develop Leukemia to help better understand the disease and possible treatments.

Improving Working Memory of Children with Lead Poisoning – Dr. Theresa Holtrop
This first-of-its-kind project is using a computer-assisted training program on children ages 7 to 10 with lead poisoning to try and improve the ability of their working memory.


2010

CHM Gene Core Bank Research Facility (Year Two), Dr. Ahm Huq and Gene Bank Advisory Group

Neonatal & Perinatal Medicine Research, Dr. Nitin Chouthai

Neonatal & Perinatal Medicine Research, Dr. Beena Sood

Emergency Medicine Research, Dr. Prashant Mahajan

Emergency Medicine Research, Dr. Nirupima Kannikeswaran


2009

CHM Gene Core Bank Research Facility, Dr. Ahm Huq and Gene Bank Advisory Group

Relation of Oxidative Stress to Anthracycline-induced Cardiomyopathy, Dr. Thomas L’Ecuyer

Gene Therapy for Spinal Muscular Atrophy and Related Neuromuscular Diseases, Dr. Gyula Ascadi


2008 and Prior Years

Reducing Perinatal Brain Injury by Total Body Cooling, Dr. Seetha Shankaran

Positron Emission Tomography Center, Dr. Harry Chugani

Congenital Cardiovascular Interventional Study Consortium (CCISC), Dr. Thomas Forbes and Dr. Daniel Turner

Nutrition for Critically Ill Children, Dr. Kathleen Meert

Novel Approaches to Treat Childhood Paralysis and Spasticity, Dr. William Lyman

Pediatric Motion Analysis, Dr. Edward Dabrowski

Gene Therapy for Chemotherapy-Induced Heart Failure, Dr. Thomas L’Ecuyer

Computer Assisted Robot Enhanced Surgery (CARES), Dr. Michael D. Klein and Dr. Scott Langenburg