researcher in lab looking under microscope

A Message from Dr. Lucky Jain

From applying solutions found at the bench to the bedside, and changing the course of a pandemic, to achieving milestones in our regular research program, all culminating in $72.5 million in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding, Children’s and Emory form a hub of top pediatric research innovation in Atlanta.

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Research Growth, Brick by Brick

Children’s new Arthur M. Blank Hospital will include space for innovative cellular therapy production, and more than 40,000 square feet of pediatric research labs will be housed at Emory’s new Health Sciences and Research Building (HSRB) II. With infrastructure built for breakthroughs, our research teams are equipped for a healthier tomorrow.

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Children’s and Emory University work together to facilitate leading-edge pediatric research, training and innovation. This long-standing partnership between one of the country’s largest freestanding pediatric healthcare systems and a leading research university is mutually beneficial. Emory University’s expertise and oversight are invaluable during clinical trials, and Children’s provides a training site for the Emory University Pediatric Residency and Fellowship Program. Discoveries in Emory University’s research laboratories are deployed in real lifesaving situations at Children’s. Together, our partnership advances research and facilitates evidence-based quality care for children.

“We’re innovating diagnostics and treatment of childhood and adolescent disease,” says Wilbur Lam, MD, PhD, Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s and Principal Investigator for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) program in Atlanta. “The culture here that is so cooperative and so willing to help each other is unlike any I have seen in the rest of the country.”

“What is so unique about Children’s is that we have the clinical volumes to drive clinical trials,” says James Fortenberry, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Children’s. “As discoveries are made, we can quickly make them available to children.”

From the moment COVID-19 turned the world upside down, Children’s researchers joined the fight to meet it head on.

Sixty principal investigators from Children’s and Emory have led projects to study SARS-CoV-2 producing 153 publications in high impact journals. Their work in 2020 and 2021 helped change the course of the pandemic and allow for the gradual return to everyday life, by leading to authorization of pediatric vaccines, availability of at-home tests, authorization of new drugs for treatment, assessing antibodies and variants, and identification of potential biomarkers. These discoveries have helped. Kids are back in the classroom and participating in social activities in person once again – and it was all made possible, in part, by discoveries made in our labs and clinics.

Pandemic-Friendly Autism Study Method

The earlier autism can be detected in children, the sooner they can begin treatment.

And autism researcher Gordon Ramsay, PhD, Director of the Spoken Communication Laboratory at Marcus Autism Center at Children’s, is exploring novel ways to make early detection happen through the use of wearable sensors on babies.

Wearable Sensors Pick Up Early Signs of Autism

Even with the demands presented by COVID-19, our researchers continued to reach new heights in their regular disciplines.

Significant milestones were achieved in cell therapy, HIV, cancer and blood disorders, neonatology, genetic research and more – much of it driven by in NIH funding. Displaying diligence and expertise, our pediatric research program is one of the best in the country.

New Center for Pediatric Cellular Therapy is the Way of the Future

While drugs have been the primary method of treatment for most diseases for many years, cell therapy may be the way of the future, according to Edwin M. Horwitz, MD, PhD, Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist. He received a $31 million grant from The Marcus Foundation to make this a reality.

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Beating Heart Cells Return to Earth

An out-of-this-world experiment may lead to new ways to treat heart disease in children and adults, as researchers at the Emory-Children’s Center, after more than a year of analysis, determined that cardiac stem cells grew into numerous, mature, beating heart cells while aboard NASA’s SpaceX-20 mission in March 2020.

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Searching for a Pediatric HIV Cure

Despite major advances in prevention and treatment, millions of children continue to live with HIV each day. Ann Chahroudi, MD, PhD, Infectious Disease Specialist at Children’s, was awarded $27.6 million from the NIH, as co-principal investigator, to accelerate the search for a cure for pediatric HIV.

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Medical Genetics Selected as a NORD Rare Disease Center of Excellence

The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) has named the Division of Medical Genetics a NORD Rare Disease Center of Excellence. A partnership of Children’s and Emory, the newly designated center is one of 31 medical centers nationwide making up an innovative network for rare disease patients in the U.S.

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Research teams at Children’s and Emory have seen exponential growth over the past 10 years and are eager to continue that trajectory into the future. By leveraging our nationally leading clinical volumes and the unique Atlanta partnership of Children’s, Emory University and Georgia Tech, our investigators will continue to improve the health of children in Georgia, across the nation and around the world with a focus on seven main areas.