COLUMBUS, Ohio – Nationwide Children’s Hospital has earned the National Pancreas Foundation’s (NPF) recognition as an Academic Center of Excellence. This is in addition to the Clinical Center of Excellence designation that Nationwide Children’s received in 2020, which has now been renewed.
The academic NPF designation acknowledges the importance of Nationwide Children’s comprehensive contributions to the advancement of both clinical care and research science in pediatric pancreatic diseases. NPF Center designations are awarded after a rigorous audit to determine that an institution’s focus is on multidisciplinary treatment of pancreatitis, together with a dedication to conducting clinical research.
“This designation lets patients and families know that we are not only providing the current best possible care, but we are committed to improving care and treatments moving forward as we continue to learn more about pancreatitis in children,” said Cheryl Gariepy, MD, Associate Chief for Research in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition and Director of the Pancreas Clinic at Nationwide Children’s. “Our program has long emphasized the importance of connecting multidisciplinary clinical care with a robust research program, as we believe it is the best way to advance the standard of care and this field and medicine as a whole.”
For renewal of the clinical designation, Nationwide Children’s demonstrated continued inclusion of multiple specialties in the Pancreas Care program, as well as patient-focused programs such as a pain management service and pediatric psychosocial support, among other criteria. To achieve academic recognition, the program had to demonstrate that its faculty conduct clinical trials and other research, offer fellowship and residency training programs, demonstrate regional or national expertise in pancreatic care management, and work to raise awareness of pancreatic disease among the community of healthcare professionals.
“This designation acknowledges the broad range of clinical and surgical services we offer as well as the amazing work being done here to improve outcomes and enrich the scientific and clinical study of pediatric pancreatic diseases,” said Jaimie Nathan, MD, Chief of Pediatric Abdominal Transplant and Hepatopancreatobiliary Surgery and Surgical Director of Pancreas Care at Nationwide Children’s. “It is essential to the mission of the Pancreas Care program at Nationwide Children’s to continue to offer this union of excellent clinical care and some of the country’s most exciting pancreatic research.”
Nationwide Children’s is unique nationally and internationally as it is the only children’s hospital with a board-certified pediatric surgeon with extensive expertise in total pancreatectomy with islet autotransplantation (TPIAT), an advanced procedure to treat children who have debilitating pain and impaired quality of life from acute recurrent or chronic pancreatitis. An essential component of the TPIAT program is the advanced pancreatic islet cell isolation and transplantation research lab, led by Balamurugan Appakalai, PhD, one of the world’s most experienced in processing human pancreases for clinical islet autotransplantation and allotransplantation. His vast expertise assures the highest potential for children to achieve insulin independence following TPIAT.
Dr. Appakalai collaborates closely with Dr. Nathan, who serves as a co-investigator on the R01-funded multi-center prospective observational cohort study of total pancreatectomy with islet autotransplantation (TPIAT) — the POST Study — with the goal of addressing research gaps and developing future intervention studies regarding the surgical approach to TPIAT.
Investigators at Nationwide Children’s also participate in the International Study Group of Pediatric Pancreatitis: In search for a cure (INSPPIRE 2) project, funded by the National Institutes of Health. INSPPIRE 2 has steadily built the world’s largest pediatric registry of children with pancreatic disease to enable swifter treatment development and comprehensive understanding of disease outcomes. Numerous additional pancreatic research endeavors are also underway.