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CDI in the News

CDI Harry Winston Fellows announced for 2014-2015 

Amy Albin - 10/07/2014

[L to R, listed below]

Harry Winston, Inc., the international fine jeweler and watchmaker, donated a five-year, $1 million contribution to support the work of young pediatric physician-scientists from the UCLA Children's Discovery and Innovation Institute (CDI) and Mattel  Children' s Hospital UCLA who are conducting research to prevent, treat and cure disease and illness in children. 

Kristina Adachi, MD - Pediatric Infectious Diseases
"Investigating the impact of bacterial STIs on perinatal transmission of HIV and/or Cytomeglavirus (CMV)"

Leslie Kimura, MD - Pediatric Endocrinology
"Cytoprotective effects of Humanin on myoblast survival and differentiation against oxidative stress"

Edward Talya, MD - Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition
"Efficacy of glucagon like peptide-1 agonist exenatide in the management of pediatric short bowel syndrome"

Harry Winston Fellows will be chosen annually by an internal selection committee led by Dr. Sherin Devaskar, Pediatrics Chair and executive director of the UCLA Children's Discovery and Innovation Institute (CDI) which promotes "scholarship and lifelong learning at all levels of career development," said Devaskar. "The Harry Winston Fellowship Fund will support the best and brightest subspecialty fellows toward becoming exceptional academic physician-scientists who will go on to collaborate and establish networks locally, nationally and globally."  [read more] 

UCLA scientists identify link between stem cell regulation and the development of lung cancer

Brigitte GompertsShaun Mason - 06/19/2014

UCLA researchers led by Dr. Brigitte Gomperts have discovered the inner workings of the process thought to be the first stage in the development of lung cancer. Their study explains how factors that regulate the growth of adult stem cells that repair tissue in the lungs can lead to the formation of precancerous lesions. Findings from the three-year study could eventually lead to new personalized treatments for lung cancer, which is responsible for an estimated 29 percent of U.S. cancer deaths, making it the deadliest form of the disease.

The study was published online June 19 in the journal Stem Cell. Gomperts, a member of the UCLA Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research and the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, collaborated with Manash Paul and Bharti Bisht, postdoctoral scholars and co-lead authors of the study.

Gomperts, who also is an associate professor in the department of pediatrics at UCLA and a scientist at the UCLA Children's Discovery and Innovation Institute, said "Loss of this ROS regulation leads to precancerous lesions. Now, with this precancerous model in place, we can begin looking for what we call 'driver mutations,' or those specific changes that take the precancerous lesions to full-blown cancer." Gomperts said that because many different factors - including cigarette smoke, smog and inflammation - could potentially trigger an increase in ROS in the airway stem cells, researchers might eventually be able to customize treatments based on the cause. "There are likely multiple ways for a person to get to a precancerous lesion, so the process could be different among different groups of people. Imagine a personalized way to identify what pathways have gone wrong in a patient, so that we could target a therapy to that individual." [read full story]


Redesigning the well-child checkup

Tumaini CokerAmy Albin - 06/16/2014

UCLA study suggests new models for more efficiently delivering preventive care to low-income families. In a year-long study led by Dr. Tumaini Coker, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA, researchers developed a new design for preventive health care for children from birth through age 3 from low-income communities. The team partnered with two community pediatric practices and a multi-site community health center in greater Los Angeles.

"The usual way of providing preventive care to young children is just not meeting the needs of the low-income families served by these clinics and practices," said Coker, who also is a researcher with the hospital's UCLA Children's Discovery and Innovation Institute. "Our goal was to create an innovative and reproducible - but locally customizable - approach to deliver comprehensive preventive care that is more family-centered, effective and efficient."  [read full story]



Steve Tisch donates $10M to UCLA program devoted to researching, treating sports concussions, especially in youth

Christopher GizaElaine Schmidt - 05/28/2104

The BrainSPORT (Brain Sports concussion Prevention Outreach Research and Treatment) Program was founded in 2012 by UCLA's Dr. Christopher Giza, who is scheduled to participate in the White House briefing. Integrating the expertise of clinicians and scientists at the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center and in pediatric neurology, neuropsychology and sports medicine, the program provides research-based treatment for sports concussions in school-age to professional athletes.

As director of the UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program, Giza's immediate goal is to develop an age-appropriate concussion-evaluation tool that blends baseline testing, recordings from advanced biomechanical sensors, and expert neurological and cognitive exams. The tests will measure a concussion's severity, determine the treatment and guide plans for the affected athlete's return to competition.

"Mr. Tisch's generous gift will be an enormous game-changer, enabling us to create diagnostic tools customized to younger athletes," said Giza, who is a professor of pediatric neurology and neurosurgery at the Geffen School of Medicine and Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA. "Currently, young athletes are assessed with adult tests - but kids aren't little adults. With the right diagnosis and personalized care, kids can recover completely from concussion." Dr. Giza is also a neuroscientist in the UCLA Children's Discovery and Innovation Institute[read full story]


Using substances at school may be cry for help, UCLA researchers say

Rebecca DudovitzAmy Albin - 05/03/2014

Teens caught drinking or using marijuana at school should be screened for exposure to trauma, mental health problems and other serious health risks, according to a study presented May 3 at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Vancouver, Canada. UCLA researchers found that the use of substances at school was associated with significantly increased odds of serious problems such as depression, being the victim of intimate-partner violence and attempting suicide.

"At-school substance use is not just an isolated event requiring simple disciplinary action but an important signal identifying teens in need of urgent psychosocial assessment and support," said lead author Dr. Rebecca N. Dudovitz, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA and the UCLA Children's Discovery and Innovation Institute.

Dudovitz and colleagues analyzed data from the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a nationally representative survey of more than 15,000 U.S. high school students. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducts the survey every two years to monitor conditions and behaviors that impact adolescent health. [read full story]

Jeweler makes $1 million gift to establish pediatric fellowships

Amy Albin | April 21, 2014

Harry Winston, Inc., recently announced a $1 million pledge to the UCLA Children's Discovery and Innovation Institute to establish the Harry Winston Fellowships.

As the first corporate sponsor of Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA's innovative pediatric fellowships, Harry Winston, Inc., an international fine jeweler and watchmaker, will support the work of young pediatric physician-scientists who are conducting research to prevent, treat and cure disease and illness in children.

Three outstanding fellows, Dr. Mark Hanudel, Dr. Kevin Quinn, and Dr. Caroline Kuo, whose appointments as the 2014 Harry Winston Fellows are underway, were recognized at Mattel Children's Hospital's second annual Kaleidoscope Ball on April 10 at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Proceeds from the gala benefit the UCLA Children's Discovery and Innovation Institute. [read full story]


Pilot program study finds that pediatric obesity patients like telehealth services

 Wendy Slusser

Amy Albin - December 11, 2013

For youth dealing with obesity who need extra help losing weight, experts suggest a multidisciplinary approach in which care is provided by several health specialists. However, the logistics of traveling to multiple appointments, even if just across town, can be a barrier to receiving care, especially for low-income families.    

UCLA researchers at the UCLA Children's Discovery and Innovation Institute who work with this patient population set up a pilot program using telehealth technology - a secure system that allowed patients to see and speak with their health care providers at UCLA over a computer from their local health clinic - to evaluate if such a system could be an effective strategy to help overcome these issues.  Their study of the program found that the great majority of pediatric patients - approximately 80 percent - were satisfied with their telehealth appointment, saying it was just as good as talking to the doctor in person, that it was easier to go to the local clinic than to the UCLA campus in Westwood, that they felt comfortable and that their privacy was protected.

In addition, 80 percent said they would participate in a telehealth appointment again. Responses from the health care providers were similarly positive.   The results of the project were presented at the Southern California Public Health Association Conference on Dec. 9.  

"One surprise was how natural it was to talk with each other through the telehelath system, even though we never met the patients in person," said lead author Dr. Wendy Slusser, medical director of the Fit for Healthy Weight program at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA and director of pediatric wellness programs at the Venice Family Clinic. "The interaction was very much like being in the same room together. Some kids even thought it was fun to see themselves on the screen."  [read full story]


Six months of fish oil reverses liver disease in children with intestinal failure, study shows

Kara Calkins

Amy Albin, aalbin@mednet.ucla.edu     August 14, 2013

Children who suffer from intestinal failure, most often caused by a shortened or dysfunctional bowel, are unable to consume food orally. Instead, a nutritional cocktail of sugar, protein and fat made from soybean oil is injected through a small tube in their vein.

For these children, the intravenous nutrition serves as a bridge to bowel adaptation, a process by which the intestine recovers and improves its capacity to absorb nutrition. But the soybean oil, which provides essential fatty acids and calories, has been associated with a potentially lethal complication known as intestinal failure-associated liver disease, which may require a liver and/or intestinal transplant. Such a transplant can prevent death, but the five-year post-transplant survival rate is only 50-70 percent. Previous studies have shown that replacing soybean oil with fish oil in intravenous nutrition can reverse intestinal failure-associated liver disease. However, the necessary duration of fish oil treatment had not been established in medical studies.

Now, a clinical trial conducted at the Children's Discovery and Innovation Institute at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA has found that, compared with soybean oil, a limited duration (24 weeks) of fish oil is safe and effective in reversing liver disease in children with intestinal failure who require intravenous nutrition. The researchers believe that fish oil may also decrease the need for liver and/or intestinal transplants - and mortality - associated with this disease.  [Read full story]