Summer 2006


Diana Farmer, M.D.

Innovation, discovery and access to the latest breakthroughs in medical care have long been hallmarks of the care delivered at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital. In this edition of the News, we highlight groundbreaking work in the childhood cancer neuroblastoma, type 1 diabetes and childhood multiple sclerosis. These are just three of the many programs at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital that harness the power of interdisciplinary research and clinical teams to bring new hope to children and their families throughout Northern California.

Much of the translational research done at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital is conducted in the Pediatric Clinical Research Center (PCRC), one of only nine dedicated pediatric clinical research centers in the country. Meaningful translational pediatric research is difficult, requiring neurocognitive and psychological, as well as physical, assessments in the context of well-defined, age-adjusted change.

Sam Hawgood, M.B. B.S.

Pediatric research requires special attention to imaging requirements and to processing small-volume samples in order to guard infants' safety while collecting high-quality data. The PCRC at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital allows high-quality, innovative care to be conducted within a setting staffed by pediatric nurses, anesthesiologists and phlebotomists, all of whom are trained to attend to the unique requirements of pediatric patients.

The ethical aspects of research in children also require special attention to their autonomy and to the rights of their parents. Retaining highly trained pediatric research staff — dedicated to the well-being of children and their parents -- ensures that the autonomy of the child and parental rights are respected in the research environment.

The PCRC, directed by Diane Wara, M.D., and funded by the National Institutes of Health for more than 25 years, is a 2,000-square-foot, multidisciplinary inpatient and outpatient facility staffed by professional nurses, dietitians and other skilled medical personnel, all experienced in pediatric clinical research.

The inpatient unit consists of five private rooms, one of which is lead-lined for the infusion of radioactive materials — critical for the work of Kate Matthay, M.D., on neuroblastoma that is described in this edition. A contiguous outpatient facility contains three infusion sites and two exam rooms used for the pioneering work of Steve Gitelman, M.D., on type 1 diabetes also described in this edition. In addition, the PCRC supports clinical research in all three critical care units at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, allowing cutting-edge therapies to be delivered to even our sickest patients.

There are currently 90 active protocols led by 162 principal investigators. The stories in this issue provide examples of how the explosive increase of knowledge in our understanding of human disease through the basic sciences is being meaningfully translated to the prevention of disease and the treatment of patients.

Sam Hawgood, M.B. B.S.
Physician in Chief
UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital

Diana Farmer, M.D.
Surgeon in Chief
UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital

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