Improving Pediatric Health:
Finding Cures and Unlocking Discoveries
2013 was another successful year as Seattle Children’s Research Institute continued to rank among the top five pediatric research institutes in the country. Thanks to the dedication and talent of our faculty and staff and the generosity of our philanthropic community, we’ve made progress in our quest to find better treatments and cures for childhood disease, and to address health issues affecting children at our hospital and around the world.
Our research institute team has made several major contributions to improving pediatric medicine in recent years, and 2013 was no exception. Of note, we enrolled the first two patients in our cellular immunotherapy phase I cancer trial and both are in remission after treatment. This trial is for patients with poor prognosis relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) who have not yet had a bone marrow transplant. In 2014, we will continue enrolling patients in the trial and will begin a second leukemia trial for patients who relapse with ALL after a bone marrow transplant.
Children’s also became the first research center in the country to receive federal approval to test the effectiveness of fecal transplants in pediatric patients with inflammatory bowel disease. (We are the only center studying this treatment in children with Crohn’s disease.) We’ve also made progress in better understanding what triggers Type 1 diabetes and what causes SIDS. In addition, we’ve pinpointed strategies to prevent childhood obesity and depression in kids. And we’ve learned more about the striatum, a key decision-making part of the brain. Add these to a long list of discoveries expected to improve a wide variety of issues related to pediatric health.
Philanthropy continues to be a driving force in our work to achieve our mission to prevent, treat and eliminate pediatric disease. In November, we received the largest gift in Children’s 106-year history – a $75.04 million charitable trust from philanthropist Jack MacDonald to fund pediatric research at our research institute. We are also grateful for the continued growth and generous support of our Research Champions and the guilds dedicated to accelerating research.
In addition, we made important advances on our strategic planning initiative to ensure every eligible patient at our hospital has the opportunity to participate in research. Activities included surveying patient families to better understand their interests in and reasons for participating in research, conducting a pilot in our Rheumatology Clinic to bring research and clinical care closer together, and planning for a specimen repository that will eventually improve our ability to store and access samples that may hold the clues to important discoveries about pediatric diseases.
Recruiting the best and brightest was another focus this year. We recruited several new scientific faculty who are working to bring new discoveries from the bedside to the bench and back to the bedside.
We also appointed new co-directors for our newly renamed Center for Global Infectious Disease Research (formerly Center for Childhood Infections and Prematurity Research) – Dr. Timothy Rose and Dr. Lisa Frenkel. After an extensive national search, we found the best leaders for the center right here.
It’s been a milestone year for the research institute in many ways. We are proud of our faculty and staff and grateful to the generous donors who contribute to advance pediatric healthcare.
Dr. Jim Hendricks
President, Seattle Children’s Research Institute