Pediatrics In The News

October 14, 2019 (NBC 5 News)
Virtual Reality Gives Sick Babies Their Best Chance

Advancements in medical technology is giving critically sick patients their best chance of getting well. That's especially true for babies born with congenital heart defects, which often require complex surgeries when babies are just days old.

An immersive virtual reality was developed by Dr. Aashoo Tandon at Children's Health and UT Southwestern in Dallas. In this space, surgeons can "virtually" step inside a patient's heart, which in reality, is about the size of a walnut. It's the latest advancement to the technology he showed NBC 5 two years ago.

"What you had was kind of like what you see what the movies, when you put on glasses and you get to see depth perception, but you can't be inside it. What we have developed is the ability to zoom in and be inside the heart," Tandon said. Read the full story.

October 10, 2019
The first set of Pilot Synergy Grants have been announced

The announcement of the Synergy Grants program has come and six teams have been chosen to receive these grants. In all, 44 teams of practicing clinicians and basic scientists seeking clinical applications of scientific discoveries submitted proposals. Because of the quality and quantity of the proposals, the Circle of Friends Steering Committee voted to increase the number of projects it would fund this year and is hoping to be able to fund even more Synergy Grants next year. Of these six teams, one team includes one the Department of Pediatrics' very own.

"Discovery of new drugs to treat genetic cardiomyopathy using patient-derived stem cells"
Gerald Greil, M.D., Ph.D. – Department of Pediatrics
Rhonda Bassel-Duby, Ph.D. – Department of Molecular Biology
Eric Olson, Ph.D. – Department of Molecular Biology

August 30, 2019
Cancer specialists named Dedman Family Scholars in Clinical Care

One of UT Southwestern’s newest Dedman Family Scholars in Clinical Care – Dr. Ksenya Shliakhtsitsava – didn’t have far to look to appreciate the drive and sacrifice it takes to be a female physician. She is a cancer specialist whose mother is also a doctor.

Dr. Shliakhtsitsava, an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology since last September, recounted her upbringing. My mom is a pediatric gastroenterologist and my father was a surgeon. Both my parents obtained M.D.s and Ph.D.s, so I grew up in the atmosphere of research curiosity and medicine. As far back as I remember, I always wanted to be a physician and help sick children and their families. Read the full story.

July 18, 2019 - ‘I’m brave!’  Boy battles rare form of Batten as scientists seek lifesaving gene therapy

Joseph Hann's condition is an ultra-rare form of Batten disease characterized by a gene mutation that causes proteins to accumulate in cells, ultimately leading to widespread cell death. Patients appear healthy early in life, but eventually their brains begin to degenerate and they lose vision, mobility, and cognitive function. Many die before their 10th birthday.

“You can think of this as Alzheimer’s disease in children,” said Dr. Berge Minassian, who leads UT Southwestern’s gene therapy program at the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute. “You can see an otherwise normal child, but his brain is suffering each day.” Read the full story.

April 24, 2019 - Researchers learn how ‘bad cholesterol’ enters artery walls in condition linked to world’s No. 1 killer

UT Southwestern researchers have determined how circulating “bad cholesterol” enters artery walls to cause the plaque that narrows the blood vessels and leads to heart attacks and strokes.

Since low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol entry into the artery wall drives the development of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, and atherosclerosis leads to heart attacks and strokes, future treatments preventing the process may help decrease the occurrence of these life-threatening conditions, said Dr. Philip Shaul, senior author of the study published online today in NatureRead the full story.

April 23, 2019 - Metabolism and Malignancy

A few years ago, Dr. Ralph DeBerardinis began seeing lab results that challenged long-standing scientific thinking about how cancer cells grow.

The UT Southwestern pediatrician and cancer researcher’s tests showed that lung cancer tumors could use a number of nutrients for food – including lactate, formed by the breakdown of glucose (sugar) and long considered just a waste product.

His findings flew in opposition to the so-called Warburg effect. The 1924 theory put forward by the Nobel Prize-winning German scientist and physician Dr. Otto Heinrich Warburg postulated that cancer cells generate energy by breaking down glucose. The hallmarks of this process, according to Dr. Warburg, are rapid glucose uptake, reduced pyruvate oxidation, and secretion of lactate as a waste product.

Dr. DeBerardinis published his groundbreaking research in 2016 in Cell. A second study – even more emphatic about cancer’s use of lactate as a fuel source – came out in Cell the following year. Read the full story.

March 28, 2019 - White honored with major award in pediatric endocrinology

Dr. Perrin White
, Chief of Pediatric Endocrinology and an international authority on disorders of steroid synthesis in the adrenal gland, has been recognized with the Pediatric Endocrine Society’s 2019 Judson J. Van Wyk Prize.

The Van Wyk Prize is the Society’s most prestigious award for outstanding career achievement by a member in the field of pediatric endocrinology. The award honors Dr. Van Wyk, the late pediatric endocrinologist known for scientific excellence, leadership, and dedication to children’s health. Read the full story.

February 28, 2019 - Dr. Steven Gray Speaks at University's President's Lecture Series

Dr. Steven Gray
 and Dr. Eric Olson are both innovators in gene therapy - one of the hottest fields in biomedical research, given it's potential to transform medicine by discovering cures for deadly genetic diseases. They're both on the search for cures for diseases that strike children and young adults. Drs. Gray and Olson discussed "Gene Therapy and Gene Editing: New Hope for Rare Diseases" at the first President's Lecture Series presentation of 2019. Read the full story.

February 20, 2019 - Rate of highchair misuse climbs

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports a 25 percent leap in children injured using highchairs – the biggest jump in large-volume categories that included highchairs, strollers, cribs/mattresses, and infant carriers. Dr. Nakia Gaines, an emergency medicine pediatrician at UT Southwestern Medical Center and Children’s Health who researches injury prevention strategies, suggests highchairs be used primarily for mealtimes. Read the full story.

January 22, 2019 - Hope for Life: Family's Efforts to Save Daughter Lead to Genetric Treatment for Rare Disease

Jocelyn Duff felt a pang of sadness as she looked down at her sleeping daughter, the steady click and hum of the child’s breathing machine triggering memories of how much Talia had lost in a few short years.

Watch video: Hope for life

UT Southwestern Medical Center is helping the Duff family organize a gene therapy clinical trial to treat Talia’s condition, called Charcot Marie Tooth disease, type 4J (CMT4J). The disease – which shares many of the same symptoms as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – is caused by a gene mutation that prevents the body from filtering cellular waste.

The clinical trial is among several that UT Southwestern’s gene therapy program is organizing for a class of rare neurological diseases largely overlooked by the medical field. By inserting healthy genes missing from patients’ DNA, scientists are looking to develop lifesaving treatments for millions of children who collectively suffer from diseases like CMT4J.

“We’re not looking at this therapy as a cure,” said Dr. Steven Gray of UT Southwestern, noting that some patients may never recoup some of their body function. “But it may be a way to save Talia’s life by treating many of the critical aspects of the disease that would ultimately kill her.”

Dr. Gray, who has pioneered gene therapies for multiple rare diseases, is optimistic that CMT4J will be treatable through genetic means. He said the condition is similar to giant axonal neuropathy (GAN), another deadly disease for which gene therapy is being tested. Early results from that clinical trial have been positive. Read the full story.

January 2019 - Perrin White named 2019 recipient of the Judson J. Van Wyk prize

Perrin White, M.D.
, the Audre Newman Rapoport Distinguished Chair in Pediatric Endocrinology and Division Chief of Pediatric Endocrinology, was as the 2019 recipient of the Judson J. Van Wyk prize by the Pediatric Endocrine Society.  The Van Wyk prize is the Society’s most prestigious award for outstanding career achievement by a member in the field of pediatric endocrinology.  Established in honor of Judson J. Van Wyk, M.D., the Award stands in tribute to an outstanding leader whom has displayed a career of scientific excellence, leadership, and dedication to the health of children.

These characteristics also define Dr. White’s long and distinguished trajectory at
UT Southwestern.  Dr. White joined UT Southwestern as a Professor of Pediatrics and Division Chief in 1994 after rising to the same rank at Cornell University Medical College, where he was already a world authority on the anomalies of steroid synthesis in the adrenal gland.  During his tenure at UT Southwestern, Dr. White has continued his work on congenital adrenal hyperplasia and more recently on the mechanisms and treatment of juvenile diabetes while building one of the best divisions of pediatric endocrinology in the country.  His contributions have gained him wide recognition and multiple awards, including a MERIT Award from NIH and the prestigious Mead Johnson Award from the Pediatric Academic Societies. Congratulations, Dr. White, on this outstanding achievement.