PHOENIX [Oct. 26, 2023] – Phoenix Children’s is taking another leap forward with the addition of two internationally recognized scientists and new research efforts that will improve quality and outcomes for children facing a range of illnesses.
“We are thrilled to welcome two brilliant researchers whose knowledge and expertise expand our purview and add even more momentum to our work,” said Stewart Goldman, MD, senior vice president of research for Phoenix Children’s and Sybil B. Harrington endowed chair and professor, Department of Child Health at University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix. “With these hires, we’re delving into new cancer treatments that have fewer side effects while also enhancing our understanding and care of brittle bone disease.”
Earlier this month, Tanya Kalin, MD, PhD, was named vice chair of translational research for the Phoenix Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. Dr. Kalin, who came to Phoenix Children’s from Cincinnati Children’s and her namesake Kalin Research Lab, focuses on developing new therapies to treat childhood cancers that have metastasized to the lungs and chronic fibrosing lung diseases with fewer negative side effects for children. Her research will take place within The Phoenix Children’s Research Institute at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix.
To date, her research has been awarded more than $11.5 million in federal and grant funding. She has served as principal investigator or co-investigator on several R01 studies funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Phoenix Children’s also recently announced that Maegen Wallace, MD, MBA, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, researcher and expert in osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease, has joined the Herbert J. Louis Center for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine at Phoenix Children’s. Here, Dr. Wallace is focusing her clinical practice on lower-extremity issues, osteogenesis imperfecta and other rare skeletal diseases while continuing her research to define best clinical practices and uncover new treatment options for patients suffering from debilitating skeletal conditions.
Dr. Wallace comes to Phoenix Children’s from Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha, where she was the Dr. Paul and Bernadette Esposito Endowed Chair in Pediatric Bone Disorders. Dr. Wallace has served as principal investigator on numerous studies of osteogenesis imperfecta.
The two join a large and growing team of researchers investigating new therapies for a wide range of devastating childhood illnesses. Recent work examines the safety of ketamine in critical care, outcomes for children and adults with severe heart defects, trends in prenatal diagnoses of congenital heart defects, efficacy of vaccines for influenza and COVID-19, and treatment of pediatric migraine:
- Ketamine, a dissociative anesthetic, was found to have no negative impact on blood oxygen levels or blood pressure of critically ill children intubated for neurological reasons. Aline Branca, MD, critical care physician at Phoenix Children’s, co-authored this recently published study as part of the National Emergency Airway Registry for Children and the Pediatric Acute Lung Injury, Sepsis Investigators Network.
- Patients with heart defects requiring a specialized operation known as the Fontan procedure may eventually require a heart transplant – but their post-transplant survival rates have improved over time, according to new research that also sheds light on appropriate care for young adult Fontan patients. Jordan Awerbach, MD, MPH, a pediatric cardiologist at Phoenix Children’s Center for Heart Care, co-authored the study as part of the Alliance for Adult Research in Congenital Cardiology multicenter group.
- Another study targeting patients aged 9-18 who have undergone a Fontan procedure found they can safely use a new device known as CardioMEMs to manage Fontan-related complications. The manuscript was developed by Deepti Bhat, MD, and co-authored by Joseph Graziano, MD, and Byron Garn, MD, all pediatric cardiologists in Phoenix Children’s Center for Heart Care.
- Babies in Arizona less than one year of age who require cardiac surgery for major congenital heart defects are benefitting from improved prenatal detection, but there remains a discrepancy in the detection rate among urban, rural and Native American populations. Donny Mattia, MD, and Chelsea Matney, MD, pediatric cardiology fellows at Phoenix Children’s Center for Heart Care, recently published this work.
- A team of physician-researchers from Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s recently authored a study that examined acute and preventive pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic treatment of pediatric migraines. This work is an important step forward in understanding the effectiveness of common treatments, many of which are not FDA approved or lack evidence of efficacy.
- Phoenix Children’s, in collaboration with Arizona State University and Valleywise Health, is part of a five-year study to examine vaccine effectiveness against influenza and COVID-19. Joanna Kramer, DO, a Phoenix Children’s pediatrician, serves as the site principal investigator for this research, which is funded and coordinated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC officials recently visited Arizona for a first-hand look at this study.
- An ongoing, health system-wide study on the social determinants of health (SDoH) is screening Phoenix Children’s patients and connecting at-risk families with community resources. The study has been spearheaded by Kristi Samaddar, MD. Since its launch, the project has surveyed more than 180,000 patients, identifying more than 30,000 with SDoH concerns. Now, Phoenix Children’s is building out a data dashboard to automate and prioritize referrals, document consent and submission status, and track improvements over time.
The Phoenix Children’s Research Institute at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix launched in May 2023, formalizing a longstanding research collaboration between the health system and the UArizona College of Medicine – Phoenix. More than 700 active studies, 640 research investigators and 90 research staff members including research scientists, associates, biostatisticians, pharmacists, nurses, coordinators and assistants. Scientists engage in research across multiple clinical disciplines including cancer, neurology, cardiology, pulmonology and more. Learn more at phoenixchildrens.org/centers-programs/research.