Research & Innovation
Boston Children’s Hospital’s Division of Newborn Medicine embodies a large clinical and research enterprise that combines clinical, translational, and basic research programs in four distinct areas. The Division of Newborn Medicine embodies a large clinical and research enterprise that combines clinical, translational, and basic research programs in four distinct areas. These focal points of scholarship arose out of recognition that the interaction of individuals with common strategies and interests maximizes efficiency and opportunities for achievement. For each fellow in training the faculty research areas play a significant, formative role in the development of a successful investigative career. Please be sure to visit each individual faculty investigator's Research Profile page for detailed information about his or her research program.
Newborn Lung Biology
The Newborn Lung Biology program [Drs. Mitsialis, Fernandez-Gonzalez, Leeman, Park, and Kourembanas (Director)] focuses on the molecular and cellular bases of lung inflammation, hypoxic signaling, pulmonary hypertension, and developmental lung injury (bronchopulmonary dysplasia [BPD]), along with their long term consequences for child health. Key contributions include new knowledge in the areas of pulmonary hypertension and stem cell-based approaches to the treatment of neonatal lung diseases. Clinical studies focus on the long term follow-up of BPD patients to better learn how to safely wean theses infants from oxygen, to optimize caffeine therapy, and to provide optimal management of their growth and development.
Neonatal Neurobiology and Neuroimaging
The Neonatal Neurobiology and Neuroimaging program [Drs. Piao; Luo; Grant; Okada; Papadelis; Takahashi; Im] combines basic research on mechanisms of glial cell development and myelination with clinical/translational investigation on the development of novel neuroimaging techniques designed to accelerate imaging science and its application to the study of fetal and neonatal medicine. Dr. Grant [Founding Director of the Fetal-Neonatal Neuroimaging and Developmental Science Center established in 2009] and her team of subspecialty scientists in the fields of engineering, physics, and information technology have developed imaging tools — including a Baby MRI, BabyMEG, and NIRS — that are utilized to delineate and understand the physiologic signature of the developing brain. The center is the recipient of numerous NIH and NSF grants for the development and application of new imaging modalities for the brain.
The Division of Newborn Medicine is on the frontline of newborn genetics and genomics research. We are committed to identifying molecular causes of diseases presenting during early age and develop interventions that will optimize their health. With this critical mission in mind, Boston Children’s launched the Neonatal Genomics Program spearheaded by Pankaj Agrawal, MBBS, MMSc, neonatologist and medical director of the Manton Center Gene Discovery Core. Within this program, using state-of-the-art genomic sequencing technologies, and combining them via cellular, zebrafish and mouse modeling in the lab, our team of researchers are determining the molecular cause of several neonatal conditions and determine potential therapeutic strategies. We are also investigating the role of genomic sequencing as a potential tool for screening childhood-onset diseases and its impact on families (Babyseq project). The Neonatal Genomics Program works in close collaboration with the Manton Center Gene Discovery Core, Maternal Fetal Care Center, Division of Newborn Medicine, Division of Genetics & Genomics, and several divisions and departments of Boston Children's Hospital.
The Division has developed and plans to expand its Neonatal Epigenetics program [Drs. Greer and Shi, (Director)] which incorporates studies on the fundamental mechanisms of chromatin structure, regulation, and function that underlie the pathophysiology of numerous conditions including cancer and neurological disorders, as well as normal embryonic and fetal development. This past year we recruited Dr. Greer, a former Shi lab trainee, to further expand our program into translational epigenetics with studies on imprinting disorders, as well as those designed to determine how nongenetic information can be transmitted across generations.
Neonatal Hematological Diseases
Headed by Dr. Sola-Visner, the Division has established and is expanding a program centered on neonatal hematological diseases in order to tackle this understudied area in the field of newborn medicine. This program focuses on mechanisms of neonatal megakaryopoiesis and developmental differences in platelet biology, including studies on the angiogenic and immunomodulatory properties of adult and neonatal platelets. Ongoing clinical studies are aimed at establishing safe platelet transfusion thresholds for preterm neonates and at characterizing the risks and benefits of platelet transfusions given to neonates. With an ongoing multicenter program project focused on neonatal anemia and thrombocytopenia and a planned multicenter trial on platelet transfusion thresholds in extremely preterm infants, Boston Children’s Hospital is leading the research efforts in this area.