About the Center for Pediatric Research

On September 17, 2010, the Center for Pediatric Research (CPR), secured our second 5-year National Institutes of Health (NIH) Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) competitive grant renewal of $9.5 million to continue with COBRE Phase II. The grant (P20-GM103464) is currently funded through the IDeA program of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. Over the last 4 years, the program has explored the research proposals of three new target investigators, Drs. Thierry Morlet, Soonmoon Yoo, and Kamin Johnson, and one transitional investigator, Dr. AnneMarie Brescia. All of these projects have been supported by the strong infrastructure of the core directors, Drs. Katia Sol-Church, Rob Mason, Tim Bunnell, and Rob Akins. In addition, COBRE Phase II has supported pilot projects, and actively participated in the recruitment of additional mid- and senior-level translational researchers to facilitate the program. The central goals of the CPR are to give rise to pediatric research programs and principal investigators at Nemours, and to expand our existing translational research programs on pediatric disorders.

Supported by a $10.2 million grant from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) COBRE program in 2004, and by Nemours Biomedical Research, the Center for Pediatric Research was established to support translational research programs by clinical and basic scientists with the goal of building independent programs at Nemours. To accomplish this, investigators are provided with essential resources such as core laboratory services, technical and administrative expertise, and an enriched academic environment that includes research mentorship.

A central component of the CPR’s mission is to provide junior faculty entering their research careers with the resources and the academic environment needed to maximize their potential to develop top-quality, extramurally funded research programs. Over the past six years, we have supported six target investigator projects on COBRE Phase I (note: underlined projects are clinical):

  • Developmental mechanisms of undescended testis (Dr. Julia Barthold)
  • Molecular mechanisms in Pelizaeus Merzbacher disease (Dr. Grace Hobson)
  • Peripheral nervous system in cerebral palsy (Dr. Mary Theroux)
  • Extracellular matrix remodeling in cardiovascular diseases (Dr. Andy Tsuda)
  • Mechanisms of cell death in spinal muscular atrophy (Dr. Wenlan Wang)
  • Oxygen and barotrauma effects on human airway epithelium (Dr. Aaron Chidekel)

To date, the investigators directing these projects have each shown remarkable academic progress. This is demonstrated by their publications, grant support, and academic activities, such as mentoring students and postdoctoral fellows. Along these lines, Drs. Hobson and Barthold each were awarded R01 grants; Dr. Tsuda and Dr. Chidekel were awarded American Heart and Lung Awards, respectively; and Drs. Wang and Tsuda are each participating on an IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence funded program. In addition to grant awards, the CPR has launched a successful mentoring program, which plays a critical role in the development of our junior faculty. The mentoring program has now been expanded by Nemours Biomedical Research to provide an institution-wide physician-mentoring program to promote the academic and research activities of our clinical faculty.

The CPR supports the research programs of target and transitional investigators whose work focuses on a broad range of pediatric conditions. Services have been developed or expanded to support the Administrative Core, Alterations and Renovations Core, Bioinformatics Core, Biomolecular Core Laboratory, Cell Science Core Laboratory, Clinical Research Services Core, and the Flow Cytometry/FACS Core Laboratory.

In the Fall of 2009, the CPR program received an additional $1.6 million in supplemental American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) funding to bridge COBRE funding during the review of the COBRE Phase II proposal. In this regard, the Cores and the following projects were supported under ARRA Supplemental funding (note: underlined projects are clinical):

  • Mechanistic biomarkers of endocrine disruption (Dr. Kamin Johnson)
  • The medial olivocochlear bundle and speech-in-noise deficits (Dr. Thierry Morlet)
  • Prognostic synovial biomarkers in juvenile idiopathic arthritis (Dr. AnneMarie Brescia)
  • Method to alter splicing of disease-associated RNAs (Dr. Grace Hobson)
  • Oxygen and barotrauma effects on human airway (Dr. Aaron Chidekel)

We want to be sure that it is clear how grateful we are for the work the COBRE team has done and the support provided to our efforts to bring this grant to fruition. This has been a true team effort that has resulted in success. We appreciate the input provided to us by all members of the COBRE team and look forward to another five years of meaningful scientific research. It is our mission to do our best to support the efforts of the target and pilot investigators with their COBRE projects, ultimately moving the science forward toward more cures and better lives for our patients.

We would ask that the target investigators and core directors extend our sincere thanks to each and every COBRE staff member for the effort they have provided to our success. Everyone has played a part and given of themselves to make this happen, and we are grateful. Finally, it should be noted that we are planning a celebration to solidify our success. We’ll keep you abreast of our plans as they are finalized. In the meantime, we hope you are looking forward to the next five years as much as we are.