Lung Transplant Program Research and Innovation

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“It's expanded my life. My lifeline.”

Audrey Clark
Audrey, age 15, transplanted in September of 2009

Six simple words, but hearing them is a large part of why your child’s transplant team gets up in the morning. After her transplant, we want to see your child go to school, ride bikes, do chores – to have a full and happy life.

But while a transplant can offer new hope and new opportunities, it also brings new obligations. To prevent rejection, your child will need to avoid certain situations, comply with restrictions and take medications for the rest of her life. That’s why our doctors sometimes describe getting a transplant as exchanging one disease for another.

It’s also what our dedicated teams of transplant researchers are working to change.

Research within the Lung Transplant Program at Boston Children’s Hospital is aimed at improving the outcomes of lung transplant surgery.

We focus primarily on three things:

  • preventing both short- and long-term lung transplant injury (damage done by medications and treatments, the environment, lifestyle and diet)
  • developing transplant tolerance
  • creating therapies for long-term acceptance of transplanted lungs

Here at Boston Children’s, we have the resources to conduct research in ways that other institutions can’t. For example, we are one of a handful of labs in the world capable of working with mice as models for lung transplant research, and we’re using mice to evaluate protocols with the goal of developing treatments that we can one day bring to our patients.

Globally, lung transplant research has been slow because there are comparatively few of them performed. Boston Children’s is hoping to help solve that problem by conducting research as a member of the International Pediatric Lung Transplantation Collaboration, an organization founded to give lung transplant researchers as much data to work with as possible.

Current research projects include:

  • the effect of pre-transplant physical activity on post-transplant outcome
  • role of donor specific antibodies and viral infections upon pediatric lung transplant outcomes

Recently completed research projects include:

  • the effect of prior allogeneic marrow or stem cell transplantation on lung transplants
  • cardiac re-modeling in children with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension post-transplant

The program at Boston Children's Hospital is also a research site for a NIH multi-center study to determine the role of viral infections and donor specific antibodies upon the outcome of lung transplant in pediatric patients. 

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The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO