Most research progresses through incremental advances, but virtually all pediatric researchers want their work to make a big impact. Many of the research advances celebrated at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in 2015 did just that, influencing multiple fields of practice, policy, or society.
Focusing on survivorship after cancer care is one area where CHOP researchers are having long-lasting impacts on children’s health beyond the specialists involved in treating and studying the initial disease.
“Cancer survivorship and quality of life is an area of intense research,” said Jill P. Ginsberg, MD, a pediatric oncologist and director of the Cancer Survivorship Program at CHOP. “As pediatric oncologists, we want to improve the cure rate with less future toxicity, and part of our responsibility is to focus on young patients’ quality of life afterward, as they have long and productive lives to live.”
Dr. Ginsberg and colleagues have committed to multidisciplinary research at CHOP focused on many physical and psychological health aspects of cancer survivorship including bone health abnormalities, transitions to adult care, and fertility preservation. In addition, the group participates in large national research collaboratives to improve understanding and response to long-term effects of cancer and its therapies.
Similarly, research on patient-reported outcomes is impacting many children with different diseases. This research aims to improve how clinicians and researchers use outcomes meaningful to patients when monitoring and improving care. CHOP pediatrician Christopher B. Forrest, MD, PhD, has led development of several survey tools to collect children’s self-reported health outcomes under the NIH-funded Pediatric PROMIS initiative, including measures of sleep health developed this year. This fall, a group at CHOP led by Dr. Forrest and Katherine Bevans, PhD, was selected to lead the national NIH-funded consortium to validate pediatric patient-reported outcomes for children with chronic diseases.
Law and Public Policy
CHOP research continues to make an impact far beyond the realm of healthcare, too. Among the noteworthy achievements of CHOP research in law and public policy this year:
- The federal government’s changes to the health insurance marketplace HealthCare.gov mirrored recommendations they received based on CHOP research with young adults.
- NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, cited a CHOP-led ophthalmology program for telemedicine for premature infants as an important exemplar of the agency’s future focus on mobile health.
- CHOP researchers recently wiped out a claim sometimes used by accused child abusers in court to deflect responsibility for effects of head trauma, when they debunked the idea that vaccines cause retinal bleeding in children.
Entrepreneurship and Commercial Impact
One more major way CHOP research is beginning to extend its impact is through commercialization in spinoff companies. This year, Patrick FitzGerald joined CHOP to lead efforts in innovation and entrepreneurship. In October, Diagnostic Driving, a startup company spun out from driving safety research at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) at CHOP, took its pitch on the road to seek venture capital investors for its next phase of growth — which goes beyond the youth market the team originally envisioned.
“For driving assessment software, there just so happened to be a market in corporate fleets,” said company co-founder and CIRP project manager Venk Kandadai, MPH — meaning their work could have an impact on saving lives of drivers of all ages, across the country.
For yet more examples of how CHOP research shaped policy and influenced social welfare this year, see the Bench to Bedside article on social impacts.