Medical Professional Publications

Awards and Announcements (August 2015)

(From the August 2015 Issue of Research Now)

Amanda Graf, MD, FAAP, Receives FAME Career Development Award for Clinicians

Amanda GrafThe Center for FAME annually grants, on a competitive basis, up to two awards for faculty members who demonstrate significant achievements that are attributable to participating in faculty development programming, directly put on by, or sponsored by, the Center for Faculty Advancement, Mentoring and Engagement. One of the two honorees for 2015 is Amanda E. Graf, MD, FAAP, a neonatologist and physician-scientist in the Center for Perinatal Research at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital and an assistant professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Neonatology at The Ohio State University.

As an honoree, Dr. Graf receives a $2,500 honorarium, an invitation to present her achievements at a FAME Faculty Profiles Event, and recognition at an annual awards event.


Mark W. Hall, MD, Receives Development Board Endowed Chair in Critical Care Medicine

Mark W. Hall, MD

Mark W. Hall, MD, division chief of Critical Care Medicine and a principal investigator in the Center for Clinical and Translational Research at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, recently received the Development Board Endowed Chair in Critical Care Medicine. Dr. Hall also holds appointments at the Davis Heart and Lung Research institute and the Center for Critical Care Medicine at The Ohio State University. His primary research interest lies in the area of immunobiology of pediatric critical illness, focusing on immune monitoring and modulation in critically ill children.

Endowed chairs are a hallmark of great academic and research institutions, and the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a researcher or academic. The Development Board was founded in 1971 to enhance the relationship of Nationwide Chidlren's and the local business community, and is responsible for some of our community's highest profile events. In 2008, the Development Board chose to dedicate their efforts to critical care medicine, which includes the creation and ongoing support of the Endowed Chair in Critical Care Medicine.


Alliance Cluster (Hadoop) Drives Better Pediatric Care Through Big Data Analytics, First of Its Kind in Ohio

Hadoop big data analyticsBig data analytics is the process of collecting, organizing and analyzing large sets of data to discover hidden patterns, unknown correlations, user preferences and other useful information. With big data analytics, physicians and data scientists can analyze the huge volumes of data that conventional analytics and business intelligence solutions can't touch.

Nationwide Children’s Hospital is in the process of building the Alliance (Hadoop) cluster, the kind of computing power behind Facebook and Amazon. Hadoop clusters are highly cost effective, harnessing the power of dozens or hundreds of commodity priced servers and inexpensive, community based open-source software packages.

The team at Nationwide Children’s Hospital is planning to build a Hadoop cluster with 400 compute CPUs, nearly 5 TB of RAM, and 500 TB of disk storage. It will be the first Hadoop cluster in Ohio dedicated for both pediatric care and research, known as the Alliance cluster, in honor of a generous donation from Alliance Data Systems (ADS).

The new Alliance cluster can quickly and cost-effectively store and analyze population-scale genomic data, discover and analyze patterns in hospital log files, and perform real-time and historical analysis of medical device data. Allowing researchers to decode the human genome in minutes, predict better outcomes for patients, spot patterns of disease, gauge the efficacy of treatments and identify links between causes and symptoms.

By providing capabilities in big data analytics, we will ensure speedy access to data that is compatible with research, the ability to integrate data from many different sources, allowing NCH providers and researchers to lead public initiatives and enable collaborations through data sharing.

*August 3, 2015 note: This story headline and references to the cluster have been updated to reflect the new name, Alliance cluster, in honor of the generous donation from Alliance Data Systems (ADS).


Maranda McKinley Receives Quarterly Employee Recognition Award

Maranda McKinleyMaranda McKinley, buyer in Research Purchasing at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, was awarded the employee recognition of outstanding staff member of the second quarter at the Summer 2015 Research Town Hall meeting on Monday, July 20, 2015. Her nominations describe her as customer-focused, organized, and self-motivated. Maranda has saved her customers over $140K in bids and negotiations alone, not including the pricing agreements she negotiates at the beginning of the year.



Recent Grants Awarded to Investigators in The Research Institute

Zongdi FengZongdi Feng, PhD, principal investigator in the Center for Vaccines and Immunity, was awarded a $300,000 grant from the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases for his research project, "Mechanism of Immune Control of Hepatitis E Virus."

Dr. Feng's research mainly focuses on the life cycle and pathogenesis of hepatitis viruses. Previous studies by Dr. Feng and his team have shown that hepatitis A virus (traditionally thought to be non-enveloped) hijacks host membranes to evade antibody response and facilitate its spread. A similar phenomenon exists for hepatitis E virus, an emerging agent that causes high mortality - up to 28% - in pregnant women and often develops into persistent infection in immunosuppressed individuals. These novel "quasi-enveloped" viruses create a new paradigm in virology and research will provide novel insights on vaccines and immunity.

Vidu Garg, MDVidu Garg, MD, interim director of the Center for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Research and director of Translational Research in The Heart Center, was awarded a $373,750 NIH R01 grant for his research project, "Molecular Mechanisms of Aortic Valve Formation."

Congenital heart disease is the most common type of birth defect and is the leading non-infectious cause of death in the first year of life. Malformations of aortic valves are the most common type of cardiac malformation, and the mechanisms underlying the development of aortic valve abnormalities are not well understood. This research will address the molecular mechanisms that lead to bicuspid aortic valve, the most common cardiac malformation. The research has the potential to increase the fundamental understanding of disease pathogenesis and to discover new molecular pathways that may lead to novel genetic etiologies and new therapeutic targets to prevent this valve formation or treat its complications.

Chetan Hans, PhDChetan Hans, PhD, principal investigator in the Center for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Research, was awarded a $359,890 NIH R01 grant for his research project, "Role of Notch1 Signaling in Abnormal Aortic Aneurysm." 

Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a progressive enlargement of the abdominal aorta with a prevalence of ~9% in males ages 65 years and above. The disease accounts for over 15,000 deaths each year in the U.S. alone, and the only treatment option for AAA is surgical intervention. With 25,000 surgical repairs occurring in the U.S. annually, the total societal expenditure runs into billions of dollars. Dr. Hans and his lab recently identified Notch1 as one factor that promotes M2-differentiation of Mf, naive macrophages involved in AAA disease pathogenesis. An increased understanding of the mechanism(s) underlying the development of AAA will lead to the creation of novel non-surgical therapies to reduce AAA progression.

Jiayuh Lin

Jiayuh Lin, PhD, principal investigator in the Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Diseases, was awarded a $340,635 NIH R01 grant for his research project, " A Novel STAT3-Selective Inhibitor of Medulloblastoma Therapy."

The persistent activation of STAT3 is frequently detected in primary tumors of the most frequently occurring malignant brain tumor, medulloblastoma, in children. Selectively targeting STAT3 signaling for therapeutic intervention in medulloblastoma is thereform desirable. Dr. Lin and his team have developed an oral, bio-available STAT3-selective inhibitor, LY5, with effective blood-brain barrier penetration activity. This is considered a major breakthrough for STAT3-targeting therapy, since many new anti-cancer drugs that are effective outside the brain have failed in clinical trials against brain tumors, in part due to poor penetration across the blood-brain barrier. As part of this project, Dr. Lin and his team will examine the upstream signaling responsible for STAT3 activation in medulloblastoma, and evaluate the biologic activity of combined LY5 with irradiation and cisplatin treatments using medulloblastoma mouse models. 

Joy Lincoln, PhDJoy Lincoln, PhD, principal investigator in the Center for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Research, was awarded a $373,750 NIH R01 grant for her research project, "The Role of SOX9 in Calcific Aortic Valve Disease."

Heart valve disease results in over 23,000 annual deaths in the United States, with calcific aortic valve disease (CAVD) being the most prevalent. There is no pharmacological treatment to prevent or reverse CAVD, due to the poor understanding of underlying causes. Surgical intervention therefore remains the only effective option. This research addresses the molecular mechanisms that initiatie and propogate calcific aortic valve diseases, a disease process that is becoming increasing prevalent with an aging population. Findings from this project will for the first time define a molecular pathway that underlies CAVD and identify mechanistic-based therapies that can be developed to treat affected patients.

Andrew L. Schwaderer, MDAndrew Schwaderer, MD, principal investigator in the Center for Clinical and Translational Research and faculty member in the Division of Nephrology, was awarded a $429,300 NIH R01 grant for his research project, "The Interface between Critical Acid-Base Mediators and the Renal Bacterial Defense."

Pyelonephritis, or a kidney infection, is a serious infection that leads to many health problems and death in various groups of people. Most research studies how the bladder prevents infection or handles infection. Research now suggests that special cells in the kidney are critical to fighting infections in the kidney and urinary tract, and by studying these cells, Dr. Schwaderer and his team can gain insight on how pyelonephritis happens, as well as develop new treatments for these infections.

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