Accomplishments in Pilot Grants
Pediatric and child health investigators from both Emory and MSM have been supported by ACTSI pilot funds from the Pilot Grants program: including Lilly Cheng Immergluck, MD (MSM), Arlene Stecenko, MD (Emory), Anne Fitzpatrick, PhD (Emory), Elizabeth Wright, PhD (Emory), Jacqueline Hibbert, PhD (MSM Biochemistry), Iris Buchanan, MD (MSM) and Martin Moore, PhD (Emory). Other pilot award recipients included Ify Osunkwo, MD (Emory) who received a New Investigator in Clinical/Translational Nutrition Research Award from the ACTSI/Center for Clinical and Molecular Nutrition, and Beatrice Gee, MD (MSM) who received an RCMI Pilot Project and an R-Center Career Development Project award. See a list of all Pilot Grants recipients.
Accomplishments in Pediatric Collaborations among ACTSI Institutions: Science Advances
Sickle Cell Disease (SCD): Manu Platt, PhD, an assistant professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME; a department jointly created by the Emory University School of Medicine and the Georgia Tech College of Engineering), received a $1.5M NIH Director's New Innovator Award to support a project using experimental and clinical data to develop a mathematical model for predicting stroke risk in pediatric patients with sickle cell disease to allow for earlier intervention. Dr. Platt will integrate biochemical and biomechanical mechanisms of cardiovascular disease with predictive mathematical models that robustly interpret clinical biomarkers to develop a personalized medicine protocol to predict strokes in individuals with sickle cell disease and reveal new mechanisms for therapeutic targets. This work will be done in collaboration with BME professor, Dr. Gilda Barabino, and will first be validated with animal models of sickle cell disease, in collaboration with Dr. Solomon Ofori-Acquah, assistant professor of pediatrics at Emory University in the AFLAC Cancer Center and Blood Disorders Service. Further validation will come from blood samples collected from individuals with SCD, provided by Dr. Beatrice Gee, medical director of the Hematology and Sickle Cell Program at Hughes Spalding Children's Hospital and associate professor of clinical pediatrics at MSM.
Non-human Primate Stem Cell Transplant Model: Emory investigator Dr. Leslie Kean, co-director of the Children’s Center for Transplant Immunology and Immune Therapies, and collaborators at Yerkes have developed a non-human primate (rhesus macaque) stem cell transplant model to explore graft-versus-host disease and immune tolerance therapies funded by NIH (5R01HL095791). Dr. Kean and her colleagues conducted a local investigator-initiated study of a therapy using T-cell co-stimulatory blockade to prevent graft-versus-host disease in children and young adults, which led to a multi-center protocol in the NIH-funded Immune Tolerance Network with Emory as the lead clinical site (5U19AI051731).
Georgia Tech, Emory and Children’s Atlanta Pediatric Device Consortium: Matthew Paden, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics (critical care) at Emory University School of Medicine, and Ajit P. Yoganathan, PhD, Regents' Professor of BME, have collaborated on the development of a pediatric-specific kidney replacement device as there are no FDA-approved kidney replacement devices that are designed for children. The team has been funded by a $1M NIH Challenge Grant to refine a prototype device.