Harvard Program in Neonatology - Research and Innovation

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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, Rhein, 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.

Epigenetics

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.  Dr. Hajj, a junior faculty member, will be joining the program to study the effects of the maternal environment on fetal methylation states, and additional junior faculty are actively being recruited.  The Neonatal Epigenetics program complements the ongoing work in our Center for Neonatal Genomics [CENGEN, Dr. Agrawal, Director] to expand genetic approaches to the diagnosis of rare genetic disorders of our BCH NICU patient population which includes, in addition to newborns with common neonatal disorders of prematurity, level IV patients with congenital, rare conditions that often require surgical correction.

Neonatal Hematological Diseases

Headed by Dr. Sola-Visner, and including Dr. Liu, 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.  The program will focus on mechanisms of neonatal megakaryopoiesis and developmental difference in platelet biology, including studies on the angiogenic and immunododulatory properties of neonatal platelets.  Ongoing clinical studies are aimed at identifying clinical and laboratory parameters predictive of prolonged and severe thrombocytopenia, and at establishing safe platelet transfusion thresholds for preterm neonates.  A planned multicenter clinical trial/program project will allow us to lead clinical research efforts in this area.


The Newborn Medicine faculty at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center focus their research endeavors on health outcomes; analyses of cost effectiveness of clinical trials; assessment of biomarkers, including the oral and intestinal biome, for risk assessment of intestinal injury and necrotizing enterocolitis; and evaluation of the utility of social network analysis as a tool in quality assessment and improvement.



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