Our covenant with children is to make miracles happen through this commitment to caring, our relentless perseverance to achieve new discoveries in biomedical research, and our uncompromising standards. In this golden age of discovery, pediatric researchers are increasing our knowledge about the fundamental nature of pediatric diseases. Understanding the human genome has led to the second genetic revolution, focused on the building of translational bridges to apply basic science to human problems that will bring genomic science to the bedside. This will result in routinely predicting and preventing diseases and treating children with highly potent designer drugs tailored to their own genes. The only way to discover the limits of what is possible in pediatric research is to venture beyond them. As a result, dreams are frequently becoming reality.

Our department is internationally recognized for its clinical research activities. Faculty members have discovered successful preventive strategies and treatments for DiGeorge syndrome, galactosemia, HIV infection, sickle cell disease, cancer, prematurity, kidney failure, diabetes, cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, respiratory illnesses, transplant biology, and developmental disabilities, among others. Each year more than $21 million is spent by members of our department on pediatric research through grants and contracts.

Our growing clinical pediatric research infrastructure, supported by multiple grants and contracts from the National Institutes of Health and others, will facilitate the highest achievable successes. This infrastructure includes the new Division of Pediatric Clinical Research and the NIH-sponsored Pediatric General Clinical Research Center, both located within the Batchelor Children’s Research Institute. Also accelerating our research are the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Center for Medical Genetics, the Mailman Center programs in developmental and behavioral pediatrics, the NIH-sponsored program in education in pediatric clinical research, and our continuing medical education, including the Masters of Pediatrics seminar, and the neonatology and nephrology programs. Our entire infrastructure facilitates the rapid dissemination and deployment of the latest research advances to large numbers of pediatric care providers globally. We also are recruiting faculty who are experienced in performing child-oriented research and enhancing programs to train a new generation of physician-scientists who answer important biological questions in children.

The newly created Division of Pediatric Clinical Research is a central component of the pediatric research strategic plan, with the overall goals of stimulating new and promising areas of pediatric research and fostering the pursuit of research excellence. This division facilitates the planning, execution, and securing of necessary resources to allow investigators to fulfill their dreams. The division enhances different types of pediatric research. One type of child-oriented research that benefits from this division is translational, moving basic science insights into the clinical realm and striving to understand in the most practical terms why children develop diseases and how to treat those disorders. These studies include biomarker development and drug trials.

A second type looks into treatment outcomes and epidemiology. By employing new genetic, imaging, and biomarker techniques, clinical pediatric scientists can stratify patients, classifying them by phenotype and genotype to determine which therapies are most likely to be effective and cause the fewest side effects in a given individual.

In all of these endeavors, our continuing success depends on the closest possible collaboration between the Department of Pediatrics and Jackson Memorial Hospital. Building on this collaboration is to our mutual benefit. The success of our partnership allows our four-pronged approach of patient care, teaching, advocacy, and research to flourish. Children are our greatest resource, our future, a national treasure, and the best of what our country stands for. Investing in children should be one of our highest priorities. Families have a right to expect the highest level of care for their children. Our partnership facilitates reaching that outcome.

Relationships are key for achieving excellence. The superb quality of our faculty is what has made us great. We will continue to recruit stunning new pediatric investigators and create new interdisciplinary programs. We are positioned to translate and implement novel scientific advances into better clinical care and practice resulting in improved child health. We will deliver the care with scientific rigor while continuing to make cutting-edge discoveries of major clinical impact that will leave no child behind.

Steven E. Lipshultz, M.D., is professor and chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the School of Medicine. Photography by John Zillioux

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