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Columbus Children’s Research Institute Leaders Receive Three Top CAT Awards

COLUMBUS, OH - 1/24/2007

Two individuals and one team of staff members from Columbus Children’s Research Institute at Columbus Children’s Hospital were recognized with Top CAT Awards — Top Contributors to the Advancement of Technology — from TechColumbus at a special ceremony held January 18, 2007. The awards recognize individuals, teams, organizations and partnerships working to build a strong technology community in Central Ohio.

John Barnard, MD, president, Columbus Children’s Research Institute at Columbus Children’s Hospital and a professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University was awarded Executive of the Year for companies with 50 or more employees. The recipient in this category is an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership, business success, and community impact in the field of technology. Under his leadership, Columbus Children’s Research Institute has focused on stimulating tech transfer and business development. The number of disclosures filed with the Research Institute’s Patents and Copyrights Committee in the first six months of 2006 doubled the total for all of 2005.

Dr. Barnard was named president of Columbus Children’s Research Institute in November 2005, after serving as interim president the previous year. He came to Columbus Children’s in 2000, serving as vice president of Scientific Affairs. He currently is director of the Center for Cell and Developmental Biology at Columbus Children’s Research Institute and is a practicing gastroenterologist. He is president of the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition.  As a principal investigator, Barnard has been awarded research funding in excess of $5.7 million and has been an active research and clinical mentor.

Gail Besner, MD, principal investigator in the Center for Perinatal Research at Columbus Children’s Research Institute, a practicing surgeon at Columbus Children’s Hospital, and a professor of Pediatrics and Surgery at The Ohio State University received the Outstanding Woman in Technology award. The award is given to a woman demonstrating outstanding contributions in the field of technology through leadership, innovation, and the promotion of technology.

Dr. Besner studies a growth factor known as heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor (HB-EGF), first identified by Besner and her colleagues in 1990. Her research has shown that HB-EGF protects the neonatal intestine from injury, suggesting it may prevent neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), which results in intestinal necrosis in premature newborn babies. She is working with a biotechnology partner to advance this research toward human clinical trials.

The Center for Childhood Cancer Bioinformatics Group at Columbus Children’s Research Institute was named the Outstanding Technology Team. The award is granted to a multidisciplinary team demonstrating successful implementation or development of an innovative technology-based initiative.

The Bioinformatics Group is working to increase cure rates and decrease side effects in cancer therapy through information technology. They focus on six key areas including molecular genetics, core morphology, histology, biospecimen management, functional genomics and specific pediatric cancer research initiatives. One of their recent projects involves the use of virtual microscopy (VM), which digitizes glass microscope slides. The VM Imaging Pilot Endeavor (VIPER) is a custom software solution enabling pathologists to securely review digital slides over the Internet, allowing input from pathology experts across the nation. This program offers an innovative method for advancing research, diagnosis and treatment of pediatric cancers and other complex diseases.

“These awards exemplify the pioneering and diverse studies being conducted at Columbus Children’s Research Institute,” said Steve Allen, MD, CEO, Columbus Children’s Hospital.  “In addition to recognition for our clinical achievements, this is a clear sign that the local community has come to recognize Columbus Children's as a significant player in research and technology innovation.”  

Columbus Children’s Research Institute is among the top ten free-standing pediatric research centers based on funding from the National Institutes of Health and is comprised of Centers of Emphasis encompassing gene therapy; molecular and human genetics; vaccines and immunity; childhood cancer; cell and developmental biology; perinatal research; quantitative and computational biology, injury research and policy; microbial pathogenesis; cardiovascular medicine; biobehavioral health and innovation in pediatric practice.

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