Category: Portfolio Pieces

September 2016 Writing for The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

I wrote the following stories published by The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute in September 2016:

Going with the Flow: How Lymphatics is Emerging as Medicine’s Newest Specialty

Pediatricians May Better Help Parents Quit Smoking With Decision Support Tool

Discovering How a Neurological ‘Pit Crew’ Keeps the Brain on Track

Scientists Identify Molecule Controlling Inflammatory Immune Response

Neuroblastoma Drug Candidates Target Key Henchmen of a Supervillain Oncogene

Fresh Hope for Treating a Rare Progressive, Lysosomal Storage Childhood Disease

CHOP Research In the News: Cancer Moonshot, Why Children Get Cancer, and a Push for Vaccination

Patients as Partners and the Legacy of Henrietta Lacks: A Q&A with David Lacks

Do Food Allergies Increase the Risk of Asthma? Key Questions From a New Study

CHOP Research In the News: Emmy Award, Kids and the Cancer Moonshot, Precision Approach to Epilepsy, Concussion Monitoring App

June and July 2016 Writing for The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

I wrote the following stories published in June and July 2016 by The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute:

Ready to Be a Healthy Adult Survivor of Childhood Cancer? Text Y/N

Microbiome Study of Inflammatory Bowel Disease Will Give the Gut a Holiday

‘Y’ Could Help Answer ‘How’ for Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Brain

Study Aims to Match Injured Children to Hospitals Best Equipped for Their Care

Time to Strengthen Parent-Pediatrician Conversations About Autism Care

CHOP Research In the News: Clinical Research in the Spotlight

Q&A: How Computer-Simulated Hospital Systems May Improve Care

CHOP Research In the News: Children’s Surgery Safety, Mentoring Award, and More

An Entrepreneurial Approach to Learning Language Grows From and Catalyzes Research

CHOP Research In the News: Big Efforts Aimed at Small Things

On Your Skin, In Your Gut, and All Around: A Microbiome Q&A

Capitalizing on the Research Potential of Mobile and Digital Technologies

How Warts Could Reveal the Immune System’s Tiny Flaws and Functions

CHOP Research In the News: Trauma, Asthma, Autism Insurance Mandates, and Sexual Health

CHOP Research In the News: New Rare Disease, FA Woodstock, Bioengineering, and Protecting Toddlers from Child Abuse

May 2016 Writing for The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

I wrote the following stories published by The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute in May 2016:

Studies Support Parent-Teen Communication to Improve Adolescent Health

Mitochondrial Medicine Pioneer Inducted to Italian Academy of Sciences

Seeking Serotonin-Connected Solutions to Heart Valve Disease

Collaborations on Language-Focused Autism Research Gain Momentum

Using Sociology to Outsmart Superbugs

CHOP Research In the News: Regulating Iron, Mother’s Dedication, Knee Troubles

CHOP Research In the News: Summer-Ready Stories about Families, Travel, and Science

April 2016 Writing for The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

I wrote the following articles published by The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute in April 2016:

Restoring Balance in the Brain After Concussion

CHOP Oncologist Appointed to Blue Ribbon Panel for National Cancer Moonshot

Teaching a Computer to See Like a Dermatologist

Study Maps Early Connectivity Networks in Newborn Babies’ Brains

CHOP Research In the News: Transgender Youth, Vaccines, and Sleep

In Bench to Bedside: Finding Research Success in Setbacks

Growing Into Healthy Relationships: A Teen Dating Violence Q&A

CHOP Research In the News: Genetic Superheroes, Excess Bone, and Secondhand Smoke

Coordinating Research with 80 Million Participants: A PCORnet Q&A

Hakon Hakonarson Honored for Excellence in Research Mentoring

CHOP Research In the News: Plastic Bronchitis, Baby BMI, Voice at the Vatican

March 2016 Writing for The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

I wrote the following stories published by The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute in March 2016, except as otherwise indicated:

CPR for Children Gets Smarter

In this story, I explored a body of research on improvements to in-hospital CPR that CHOP clinician-researchers had been at work on for more than a decade, but that had been under-reported within the CHOP community. Coincidentally, I discovered the story just as the investigators were preparing to be awarded a major NIH grant that put several pieces of their program’s work together, so I was able to announce the grant through this feature article.

Seeing the Impact of a Decade of Genomics Discoveries

This story looks back on the first decade of accomplishments of a center that was established as one of the largest research investments at CHOP at the time. I pursued the story initially due to Dr. Hakonarson’s recognition on the Thomson Reuters “highly cited” list but broadened its focus once I realized that his center’s tenth anniversary was approaching.

A Molecular Balancing Act to Fight Autoimmune Disease and Cancer

I found out about one new grant Dr. Hancock had received. To my surprise, when I met with him for an interview, he mentioned that he had received notice on the same day of another award to study the same molecules but for an opposite effect. It was completely fascinating! This molecular biology story turned out to be one of the most popular articles in our Bench to Bedside publication that month, despite the relative obscurity of its focus.

Concussions’ Unpredictability Underscores Need for Follow-Up Care

Using Doctors’ Certification Requirements to Increase HPV Vaccination

CHOP Honors Distinguished Research Trainees on Poster Day

CHOP Research In the News: DNA Scrunching, Video Games, Smart Drugs

CHOP Research In the News: Obesity, PTSD, and Alice in Wonderland

Staying Safe in the Sun: A Sun Protection Q&A

CHOP’s Foerderer Awards Support Novel Biomedical Research Studies

A Week in the Life of the Research Navigator

For this guest blog post written by Katherine Yang-Iott, I initially proposed the concept of hosting a blog post about Katherine’s new role, approached Katherine, and worked with her to develop a “day in the life” concept into a “week in the life” post. My role included guiding her in how to think about writing the piece through contributing multiple phases of editing to shape the final product.

New Brain Study Tailored for Nonverbal Children on the Autism Spectrum

Originally published in Bench to Bedside, the CHOP Research monthly publication.

I composed this original article based on interviews with the investigators.

Excerpt:

The children who speak least — or not at all — are rarely represented in cutting-edge brain imaging research on autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Researchers at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia aim to change that with a new study enrolling children with ASD who are minimally verbal or nonverbal.

“This is really an underserved community who have not been given the opportunity to participate in research,” said Timothy Roberts, PhD, vice chair of research in the Department of Radiology at CHOP and a professor of Radiology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “More importantly, the results of the research are not directly applicable to them, so even if we developed a drug for ASD impairments led by our biomarkers, we wouldn’t know if this treatment really was good for individuals with ASD with more limited verbal and cognitive ability.”

Dr. Roberts and colleagues from CHOP’s Center for Autism Research want to know whether certain aspects of neural rhythms and timing of neural firing that they found to be characteristic of ASD in previous studies, using noninvasive brain imaging called magnetoencephalography (MEG), are indeed common across the spectrum.

“When neural activity is happening, it produces electrical and magnetic fields,” said J. Christopher Edgar, PhD, a co-leader of the study and a clinical neuropsychologist and brain imaging researcher in the Department of Radiology at CHOP. “We use this machine to measure the magnetic field. We do that to look at brain function.”

The neural biomarkers that Dr. Edgar and Dr. Roberts have found correlate with the level of clinical impairment in the children they have studied to date, particularly in the realm of language ability.

“There is a scientific question: Does this correlation extend into this nonverbal and minimally verbal population in a continuous way, or is it a separate disorder?” Dr. Roberts said. “I suppose a fundamental question is: Is the autism spectrum continuous or discrete in terms of these brain markers?”

Researchers Test Magnetic Re-Seeding to Speed Blood Vessel Recovery

Originally published in Bench to Bedside, the CHOP Research monthly publication.

I composed this original article based on an interview with the investigator.

Excerpt:

Reopening blocked blood vessels can mean the difference between life and death for many patients, including children with pulmonary hypertension and adults with coronary artery disease. But the procedure used for restoring blood flow can cause extensive vascular injury, wiping away an essential protective layer of cells lining the walls of arteries and veins: the endothelium.

It may take the body weeks or months to heal that damage. Some long stretches of damaged vessels may never fully regrow the endothelium, which naturally propagates inward from the healthy edge toward the center of the wiped-out area.

“Our idea is that if we could put some seeds of endothelium regrowth within the boundaries of this denuded arterial segment, so that the endothelium can grow from those foci, we could speed up the process dramatically,” said Michael Chorny, PhD, a researcher at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and research assistant professor of Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, who specializes in developing delivery systems for therapies. “By changing the pattern of endothelium recovery, we may in practice restore it on scale of days.”

Researchers Ask How Children With Autism Communicate Pain

Originally published in Bench to Bedside, the CHOP Research monthly publication.

I composed this original article based on an interview with the investigator.

Excerpt:

When children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have acute medical needs, such as a broken bone or appendicitis, they are as likely to experience pain as any other child. But social and communication differences associated with ASD may cause clinical caregivers to miss cues showing that pain. This may compromise timely and accurate assessment and treatment. Recognizing this challenge, researchers at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia conducted a qualitative study that suggests clinicians should be prepared to ask children on the spectrum about pain in different ways.

The interdisciplinary study team set out to learn more about how these youth express and describe the experience of pain. They enrolled participants with an ASD diagnosis who came to CHOP for surgery and whose verbal language proficiency was sufficient to complete interviews about their pain during their hospital stay after their operation. The results were published in January in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

Early Smell Exposure May Be Critical for Sensory Development

Originally published in Bench to Bedside, the CHOP Research monthly publication.

I composed this original article based on interviews with the investigators.

Excerpt:

Many parents try to offer their healthy babies a rich sensory environment, full of new sights, sounds, smells, and tastes, to stimulate the developing brain to appreciate life’s delicious complexities to the fullest. And for vision and hearing, there is a solid foundation of research showing that there is a critical period early in life when adequate stimulation of those senses is essential for their healthy development.

Now, a pilot study conducted at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology provides some of the first-ever evidence for a critical period in developing the sense of smell, or olfaction, too. The findings have particular implications for rehabilitating young patients, including severely premature infants, who receive lifesaving medical interventions that temporarily prevent airflow through the nasal passages during this potentially critical period.

Four Projects, One Goal: Curing Childhood Cancer

Originally published in Bench to Bedside, the CHOP Research monthly publication.

I prepared this article based on the project descriptions and email correspondence with the investigators.

Excerpt:

Many cancer treatments have harmful side effects when they act on healthy tissues in addition to cancer cells. A team led by Garrett M. Brodeur, MD, director of the Cancer Predisposition Program at CHOP, and funded by a CURE grant, is seeking ways to increase drug delivery to the tumors to improve drugs’ effectiveness while reducing their toxicity.

Their method uses tiny nanoparticles as delivery vehicles. Nanoparticles are a promising way to get drugs into tumors because tumor blood vessels are leaky, and the nanoparticles can enter the tumor much more easily than normal tissues.

“By increasing drug delivery to tumors by one or two orders of magnitude, we can achieve dramatically better anti-tumor effects while simultaneously decreasing total drug exposure to patients,” Dr. Brodeur said.