Department of Pediatrics 2021 Annual Report

Department of Pediatrics 2021 Annual Report

Dear Colleagues,

We are excited to provide an update from the Department of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine/Texas Children’s Hospital. We all hoped that when 2021 arrived, the COVID-19 pandemic would disappear, but of course it did not. In fact, it was in some ways even more challenging than 2020, and for many of us – COVID-19 fatigue started to set in. In the face of these major and unprecedented challenges that affected all facets of our professional and personal lives, our wonderfully talented and committed faculty has continued to excel in the clinical, educational and research areas. I hope you find the stories about their achievements in 2021 as exciting as I do.

    Lara S. Shekerdemian, MD, MHA

The impact of the pandemic on the mental health of our patients and their families has been tremendous. In this year’s update, leaders from our Developmental and Behavioral Health Consortium, led by Dr. Karin Price, Dr. Robert Voigt and Dr. Kirti Saxena, highlight our ongoing work in support of these patients.

Our skilled teams of investigators have made hugely impactful advances in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Drs. Peter Hotez and Maria Elena Bottazzi and their team at the School of Tropical Medicine rolled out Corbevax — “the World’s COVID-19 Vaccine,” which specifically is designed for production and use in low- to middle-income countries. Their incredible efforts have meant that tens of millions of children from low- to middle-income nations already have received Corbevax, and these numbers grow almost exponentially each day. In addition, Dr. Flor Muñoz from the Division of Infectious Diseases, who has an outstanding track record in clinical vaccine trials, also has been hard at work with the COVID-19 vaccine and Remdesivir therapy trials for children.

As the number of type 1 diabetes mellitus cases continues to rise, Dr. Maria Redondo from the Division of Endocrinology is working hard to understand this disease. She and her team are using the power of genetics to better classify diabetes in children, predict type 1 diabetes, discover new causes of diabetes and expand the knowledge of the disease for groups outside those of European origin.

Drs. Parag Jain and Javier Lasa from the Division of Critical Care Medicine developed a new curriculum in which undergraduate students work with faculty from the Department of Pediatrics to find novel solutions to improve patient care. One of the accomplishments of the first group to participate in this program was the development of an app that enhances communication between patient families and health care providers.

Approximately one in 750 young adults now is a cancer survivor, which speaks to the importance of the Long-Term Survivor Clinic that was launched by Dr. ZoAnn Dreyer from the Cancer Center in 1988. This clinic is one of the largest of its kind in the United States. The Passport for Care, a tool that provides childhood cancer survivors with information about their cancer and corresponding treatment, ensures an invaluable resource for patients throughout their lives.

Finding methods to grow more food, as well as more nutritious food, are priorities for Dr. Kendal Hirschi and his colleagues as they work to relieve world hunger in spite of a changing climate. Officing in the Children’s Nutrition Research Center, a joint facility of Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s Hospital and the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service, Dr. Hirschi has access to state-of-the-art facilities to bring his vitally important research to fruition.

Dr. Susan Gillespie, Vice Chair of Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for the Department of Pediatrics, oversees projects to ensure that our department is committed to fostering a community and a culture that allows everyone to thrive. To complement these efforts, the work of Drs. Ashley Butler and Gia Washington, who lead the Texas Children’s Collaborative on Racial Equity and Inclusion for Black Youth, has made a real impact on the local community.

This year also saw the arrival of our new Division Chief of Newborn Medicine, Dr. Kristina Reber. Together with her very talented team, Dr. Reber will continue the outstanding clinical, research and educational programs of this division as she grows its national and international reputation.

Wishing everyone all the best,

Lara S. Shekerdemian, MD, MHA
Texas Children’s Hospital
Chair, Department of Pediatrics
Baylor College of Medicine

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