Spina Bifida (myelodysplasia) Program Research and Innovation

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The Boston Children's Hospital Spina Bifida Program believes in the importance of scientific research that advances and shapes pediatric medicine. Children's research program is the most prolific of any pediatric hospital in the world, and our clinicians are engaged in promising work with the potential to help:

  • engineer new tissue for patients with spina bifida and other related disorders
  • improve bladder and bowel function in neurologically impaired children
  • implement robotic surgery for widespread treatment of children with neurological and neuromuscular conditions

Our Spina Bifida Program physicians—who are also members of the Harvard Medical School faculty—conduct ongoing research in our laboratories. They also collaborate routinely with scientists at Boston's universities, other biomedical facilities and fellow premier medical centers. 

Our researchers

Meet some of our researchers (and learn about their individual project areas):

  • Larry Benowitz, PhD, director of Boston Children's Laboratories for Neuroscience Research in Neurosurgery, who is focusing on the basic mechanisms that help nerve connections regrow after traumatic injury
  • Basil Darras, MD, director of Boston Children's Neuromuscular Program, who is studying molecular genetics factors, diagnostic methods and therapies for neuromuscular disorders
  • Dario Fauza, MD, PhD, of the Boston Children's Department of Surgery, who is testing the efficacy of fetal tissue engineering in treating birth defects
  • Takao Hensch, PhD, of the Boston Children's Department of Neurology, who is exploring how the brain's neuronal circuits develop during infancy
  • Peter Kang, MD, director of Boston Children’s Electromyography Laboratory, who is analyzing why some muscles are more severely impacted than others in neuromuscular disorders

Clinical trials at Boston Children's

Boston Children’s is known for pioneering some of the most effective surgeries, diagnostic procedures and other essential techniques in treating diseases, including spina bifida. A significant part of our success comes from our commitment to research—and to advancing the frontiers of pediatric medicine by conducting clinical trials.


Boston Children’s conducts hundreds of clinical trials at any given time. Clinical trials are studies that may involve:

  • evaluating the effectiveness of a new drug therapy
  • testing a new diagnostic procedure or device
  • examining a new treatment method for a particular disease
  • taking a closer look at the causes and progression of specific conditions

While children must meet strict criteria in order to be eligible for a clinical trial, your child may be eligible to take part in a study. Before considering this option, you should be sure to:

  • consult with your child’s treating physician and treatment team
  • gather as much information as possible about the specific course of action outlined in the trial
  • do your own research about the latest breakthroughs relating to your child’s condition

If your physician recommends that your child participate in a clinical trial, you can feel confident that the plan detailed for that study represents the best and most innovative care. Taking part in a clinical trial at Boston Children’s is entirely voluntary. Our team will be sure to fully address any questions you may have, and you may remove your child from the medical study at any time.

Search current and upcoming clinical trials at Boston Children’s                

Search the National Institutes of Health’s list of clinical trials taking place around the world


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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