Pediatric innovators showcase highlights inventions

Some great inventions were on view at the second annual Boston Children’s Hospital Innovators Showcase. Hosted by the hospital’s Innovation Acceleration Program and Technology & Innovation Development Office, the event featured everything from virtual reality goggles with gesture control to biomedical technologies.

On the clock: Circadian genes may regulate brain plasticity

It’s long been known that a master clock in the hypothalamus, deep in the center of our brain, governs our bodily functions on a 24-hour cycle.

BabySee: Mobile app lets you see through an infant’s eyes

David Hunter, MD, PhD, chief of Ophthalmology at Boston Children’s Hospital, gets a lot of questions from parents, but the number one question is: “What can my baby see?”

DNA sequencing in newborns: Where do we go from here?

Can sequencing of newborns’ genomes provide useful medical information beyond what current newborn screening already provides? What results are appropriate to report back to parents? What are the potential risks and harms? How should DNA sequencing information be integrated into patient care?

What happens after a medical hackathon? Lessons from two winning projects

Much has been written about the successes that result from medical hackathons, in which people from across the health care ecosystem converge to solve challenges. For example, PillPack, which formed out of MIT Hacking Medicine, recently closed an $8.75 million funding round. But is this a realistic snapshot of what happens after a hackathon?

SXSW Interactive 2015: Our future selves, a maturing health tech industry and why failing is productive

SXSW Interactive has grown to include almost 50 events related to health and medical technologies. This year featured the Impact Pediatric Health pitch competition. More than 150 startup companies applied for the opportunity to pitch to a slate of venture capitalists, executives from four major children’s hospitals and ABC “Shark Tank” investor and entrepreneur Mark Cuban.

A biomarker for Rett syndrome: Measuring hand movements

Children with Rett syndrome display distinctive hand movements or stereotypies, including hand wringing, clasping and other repetitive hand movements. With help from a grant from Boston Children’s Hospital’s Innovation Acceleration Program, researchers are transforming these hand movements into an assessment tool.

New Human Neuron Core to analyze ‘disease in a dish’

Boston Children’s Hospital received nearly $2.2 million from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) to create a Human Neuron Core. The facility will allow researchers at Boston Children’s and beyond to study neurodevelopmental, psychiatric and neurological disorders directly in living, functioning neurons made from patients with these disorders.

The emerging genetic mosaic of lymphatic and vascular malformations

Our genes can mutate at any point in our lives. In rare cases, a mutation randomly occurs in a single cell of an embryo and gets carried forward only in the descendants of that particular cell, leaving its mark in some tissues, but not in others. This pattern of mutation, called somatic mosaicsm, can have complicated consequences down the road.

A simpler way to measure complex biochemical interactions

Life teems with interactions. Proteins bind. Bonds form between atoms, and break. Enzymes cut. Drugs attach to cell receptors. DNA hybridizes. Those interactions make the processes of life work, and capturing them has led to many medical advances.

Frozen poop pill offers a less invasive treatment option for emerging infectious disease

“This ground-breaking paper shows that with encapsulated, frozen donor stool, fecal transplantation can be used to successfully treat recurring C-diff infection in 90 percent of cases,” says George H. Russell, MD, MS, pediatric gastroenterologist in the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at Boston Children’s Hospital and co-author of the Massachusetts General Hospital-sponsored study.

Seizure-detecting wristwatch moves forward: Embrace

As Epilepsy Awareness month closes out and we embark upon the holiday season, we’re pleased to see an innovation initiated here at Boston Children’s Hospital move toward commercial development.

Can rare disease genes be protective?

Evolution is a strange thing: sometimes it favors keeping a mutation in the gene pool, even when a double dose of it is harmful—even fatal. Why? Because a single copy of that mutation is protective in certain situations.

Pitching pediatric innovation at SXSW Interactive

A major theme at Taking on Tomorrow 2014 was the difficulty in making the business case for innovation in pediatrics, since the market size is small relative to the adult market. Muna AbdulRaqqaq Tahlak, MD, CEO of Latifa Hospital in Dubai, was among many who urged innovators to collaborate and aggregate their data to make the most impact.

Featured Researchers + Innovators

  • David G. Hunter, MD, MPH

    David G. Hunter, MD, PhD, dreamed of a career as a rock star. Instead, he became Boston Children’s Hospital’s ophthalmologist-in-chief and invented the Pediatric Vision Scanner.

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  • Visner Lab
    Kaifeng Liu, MD, a research fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital, takes his inspiration from ants. Liu has taken this inch-by-inch approach in a radical redesign of the conventional suturing needle: “I started to play with the surgical needle in graduate school in 1986.”
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  • Martha Murray, MD has been on a 30-year quest to devise a better way to treat anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears.

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  • William Pu

    With all of the recent buzz about precision medicine, it’s no wonder that William Pu, MD is gaining recognition for his innovative application of stem cell science and gene therapy to study Barth syndrome, a type of heart disease that severely weakens heart muscle. Pu’s research was recently recognized by the American Heart Association as one of the top ten cardiovascular disease research advances of 2014.

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  • Daniel S.  Kohane, MD, PhD

    He’s a big thinker focused on harnessing the hyper-small. Daniel Kohane, MD, PhD, is a leading drug delivery and biomaterials researcher, leveraging nanoparticle technology and other new vehicles to make medications safer and more effective.

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  • Susan Faja, PhD

    Improbable as it sounds, autism researcher Susan Faja, PhD, likens her job to improv. “I really like Tina Fey’s description of her days as an improv comedian,” says Faja, who joined ...

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Featured Research Laboratories

  • Beggs Laboratory: Current studies are aimed at identification of new nemaline myopathy genes, understanding the basis for the variability observed, and determining how these mutations affect muscle function and lead to weakness.

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  • The Lencer Laboratory is located in the GI Cell and Developmental Biology Laboratories in the GI Division at Boston Children's Hospital.

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  • Sports Medicine Research Laboratory
    Led by principal investigator Dr. Martha M. Murray, focuses on sports medicine injuries, including those of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), knee meniscus and articular cartilage.

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  • Sankaran Laboratory
    Utilizing rare and common human genetic variation to improve our understanding of red blood cell production and globin gene regulation with application to numerous blood diseases.

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  • The Zon Laboratory focuses on the use of the zebrafish model for research into hematopoiesis and as a screen for oncogenic genes and proteins.

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  • The Gaab Laboratory
    Our multidisciplinary team of researchers brings together curious scientists from the basic and applied sciences, such as neuroscience, psychology, and education.
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