A sunny spring day brought another well-attended, engaging CCTR Science Day where members gathered off-site to celebrate center investigators and staff who are harnessing technology to improve children’s lives. As always, Science Day co-chairs Drs. Eileen Klein and Cate Pihoker arranged an exciting lineup of presentations. Audible exclamations of “wow” were heard several times in the audience. A stellar keynote talk, a state of the CCTR update from Dr. Bonnie Ramsey and good food rounded out a day of 45 poster presentations and 10 platform talks by CCTR faculty and staff.

Keynote Presentation Highlights Collaboration with UW

Patel_2_Science Day 2016The keynote was given by energetic Dr. Shwetak Patel, associate professor and Washington Research Foundation Entrepreneurship Endowed Professor in Computer Science & Engineering and Electrical Engineering at the University of Washington. He directs the Ubicomp Lab, shorthand for “ubiquitous computing,” where his research focuses on human-computer interactions and user interface software technology. 

Dr. Patel’s lab is currently pursuing five funded health monitoring applications harnessing smart phone capabilities: CoughSense for cough monitoring and assessment, BiliCam for detecting jaundice in newborns, ElderCare for tracking mobility patterns in the older population, WiBreathe respiration rate recording in the home setting, and SpiroSmart for lung function testing. SpiroSmart is a project in collaboration with CCTR member Dr. Margaret Rosenfeld.

During the keynote, he noted that iPhones have eight antennae, plus a headphone jack, camera/flash, accelerometer/gyroscope, capacitive touchscreen, speakers, microphone, wireless antennae signal—his lab’s brainpower is figuring out how to use these features in healthcare. He went on to describe examples of how various features of smartphones can be used for noninvasive, physiological assessments. One example: by holding a smartphone in your hand, you bang your elbow on a table to create an impulse response; the phone measures resonant frequencies from which bone density can be calculated. He also outlined two reasons why smartphones are going to change monitoring: 1) technology can allow for the self-management of disease, and 2) the opportunity for continuous monitoring (at home, or anywhere) can allow for better prediction and individualized care.

Dr. Patel emphasized that his lab is eager to collaborate with others. “For whatever reason, all my medical collaborations have been with pediatricians, even though we don’t just focus on child health,” he said. He explained that the Engineering Innovations in Medicine program is a year-long program that pairs physicians with engineers with the goal to tackle unmet clinical needs. In the past two years, program projects have resulted in functional medical innovation prototypes, many of which garnered additional funding for further development and testing. “Medical residents can also do the research component of their residency requirement in my lab,” he said, which would further promote collaborations among computer science, engineering and medicine. 

After his talk, there was a long line of investigators wanting to talk with him.

Dr. Patel has also founded several companies and has received numerous awards, including the MacArthur “Genius” award in 2011 and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) Award in 2016, for his innovative work. 

Celebrating CCTR and Looking at What’s Next for Seattle Children's

Dr. Jeff Sperring, chief executive officer of Seattle Children’s, made a brief presentation outlining the overarching strategic plan and is excited about the push to integrate clinical care and research. “Wow, one-third of the brain power in Seattle is in this room—should I be worried about the hospital today?” he commented, looking around the room, which CCTR membership has slightly outgrown. 

After lunch, Dr. Bonnie Ramsey shared an overview of the past year’s activities and outlined new fiscal policies at the center. She highlighted CCTR leadership changes: Leslie Proctor was hired in March as CCTR business manager. New positions within the Pediatric Clinical Research Center (PCRC) are: Dr. Jodi Smith, PCRC medical director; Andrew Mullenix, director, PCRC and nursing research services; and Rob Johnson, manager, research coordinator core and PCRC. 

CCTR continues to be the largest and most diverse center, with 350 investigators and 250 staff members representing 32 divisions. For FY 2015, CCTR funding totaled $47 million, an increase over FY 2014’s total of $36 million. This year marks the 10th year of the research institute, and it is funded at nearly $100 million. 

Awards for outstanding junior faculty platform presentations went to Evelyn Hsu, MD, Assistant Professor of Gastroenterology, for her presentation, Ideal outcome after liver transplantation: an exploratory study using machine learning analyses to leverage SPLIT registry data, and Kasey Leger, MD, Assistant Professor of Hematology/Oncology, for her presentation Circulating microRNAs: potential markers of cardiotoxicity in children and young adults treated with anthracycline chemotherapy.

Staff awards were earned by Amber Hyatt from the Emergency Department, for her poster, Predicting emergency severity index level based on emergency department pre-arrival information and Krysta Shutske from Bioethics for her poster, Where’s the benefit? Views on genetic testing for ASD.

Read all the abstracts from 2016 CCTR Science Day (PDF)

View tweets from Science Day by looking up #CCTRScienceDay.

– E. Kuwana