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UW Pediatrics

UW Pediatrics Research

UW Pediatrics is at the forefront of medical research, leading the discovery of new insights into the causes of childhood diseases and the development of new approaches to improving pediatric health. Through our discoveries and advances, we are improving health outcomes for children worldwide.We are united in our focus on a single mission: the wellbeing of children.  What we do today transforms care in the future.

Our faculty’s research laboratories, groups, and programs are located at the University of Washington, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Seattle Children's Research Institute, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, and throughout the WWAMI region.

“What I like about pediatrics research is that there is so much potential for positive change.”

-Dr. Stefan Kappe

Diversity of Research

From a chewing gum that prevents preterm birth, to virtual reality that improves infant resuscitation, to anticancer agents that improve the effect of other therapies—our research is diverse and far-reaching. It spans a range of areas, including community health, social studies, operational efficiencies, pathogenesis of disease, health outcomes, and hypothesis-driven laboratory-based research. Pediatrics touches nearly all specialties, and this diversity creates and supports greater scientific progress and collaborative work across disciplines.

Featured Research

Our faculty is recognized internationally for its research achievements.

Check out our latest published research and featured stories.

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UW Pediatrics at the Forefront

Our faculty is recognized internationally for its research achievements. Check out our latest published research.

Read more about the research being done in each specialty:

Our research program is designed to address key areas that affect the health of adolescents. We have expertise in STD research, behavioral change interventions to decrease sexual risk behaviors in adolescents, the impact of mental health disorders on physical health, somatic symptoms, and health services interventions to improve the treatment of adolescents with mental health disorders in the primary care setting. In our research, we benefit from close collaboration with the Department of Psychiatry, the Center for AIDS & STD Research, Public Health Seattle & King County, the Child Health Institute and Division of General Pediatrics, and the Group Health Cooperative Center for Health Studies.

The Treuman Katz Center at the Seattle Children’s Research Institute is the first program in the country to focus on pediatric bioethics issues and serves as a national resource for addressing the complex bioethical issues affecting families, healthcare institutions and society. In 2018, the Treuman Katz Center expanded its focus to include pediatric palliative care with the goal to improve quality of life, medical decision-making and communication for children with serious illness and their families. The Treuman Katz Center team is interdisciplinary with expertise in medicine, philosophy, law and the social and behavioral sciences.

Research Bioethics Consultations are available through the Treuman Katz Center to advise families, research staff and investigators who have questions about designing or conducting clinical research. More information, including how to request a research bioethics consultations, can be found at Research Bioethics Consultation Service - ITHS.

Basic research in our laboratory continues to improve understanding of how the immature heart uses oxygen and other fuels. This knowledge will help us to develop strategies to protect the heart during and after surgery for congenital heart disease.

Myocardial energy metabolism and myocardial protection continue as the primary research endeavors within the Cardiology Division. Basic laboratory research focuses on the signals, which communicate to the cell’s energy factory, the mitochondrion, during increases in heart work. Thyroid hormone levels decrease after artificially induced stresses such as cardiac surgery. Protocols involving supplementation of thyroid hormones after cardiac surgery in infants have begun to show the importance thyroid hormone balance after cardiopulmonary bypass. Thus, research in our experimental laboratory now complements clinical research at Seattle Children’s.

We also have a number of outcomes research projects. These include a multicenter study of adult congenital heart disease, an NIH-sponsored drug trial in patients with Marfan syndrome, and studies associated with the post-natal outcomes after the prenatal diagnosis of specific cardiac anomalies. We participate in multicenter trials surrounding patients with pulmonary hypertension, and are an international leader in device trials in the cardiac catheterization laboratory.

The research programs at the Clinical Training Unit are focused on understanding the causes, preventing and designing new treatments for developmental disorders. Dr. Zinner's research focus is on Tourette syndrome. Dr. Bennett's research is on developmental outcomes of neonatal conditions and treatments. He is also involved in projects aimed at strengthening the primary care network for children with disabilities. Dr. McLaughlin's research, based partly at Seattle Children's, is on measurement and treatment of spasticity in children with cerebral palsy and other disorders. Ms. Trahms research focus is on newborn screening for and treatment of inborn errors of metabolism and related disorders. Dr. TeKolste is involved in multiple preventive projects aimed at improving services to children with neurodevelopmental disabilities and especially in the smooth transition of care into the adult health care system for adolescents.

The chief of the Division of Craniofacial medicine also directs the Center for Craniofacial Research, which supports interdisciplinary research for the division. Our long-term goal is to develop an interdisciplinary research program that parallels our clinical center and to become an international leader in craniofacial-related science.

Divisional faculty are involved in a variety of NIH, industry and foundation supported basic, translational and clinical research. Specific areas of investigation include inflammation/ischemia-dysoxia, long term outcomes following pediatric critical illness, bioethics, pediatric disaster preparedness, and continuous performance improvement.

The Division of Developmental Medicine researches a variety of topics, including:

  • Dr. Bjornson's research is concerned with evidence-based clinical interventions to improve the activity and community-based mobility participation of persons with cerebral palsy and physical disabilities. A related interest is to develop a methodology to enable rigorous testing of the effectiveness of various current and emerging treatments (e.g., orthotics, physical activity/exercise, and physical therapy timing and frequency) on relevant outcomes (e.g., ambulatory and physical activity, participation in daily life).
  • Dr. Cowan's interests in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) and involves  research efforts in the past related to quality improvement, standardization of care and early diagnosis of ASDs.
  • Dr. Doherty’s research interests focus on hindbrain malformations as a way to understand human brain development and common disorders such as intellectual disability, autism, ataxic cerebral palsy and even mental health disorders such as schizophrenia. His group uses a variety of genetic techniques (SNP mapping, array CGH, and high throughput sequencing) to identify the genes responsible for hindbrain malformation disorders such as Joubert syndrome, which immediately translates into molecular diagnostic testing, and detailed work on genotype-phenotype correlations improves diagnostic, prognostic and medical management information for patients. 
  • Dr. McLaughlin's research program is aimed at developing better treatments for persons with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. This includes studies of the long-term effects of selective dorsal rhizotomy and continuous intrathecal baclofen using an implantable pump. Dr. McLaughlin is involved in studies of the incidence of pain and fatigue in persons with cerebral palsy and in developing outcome measures for quality of life.
  • Dr. Zinner pursues research with a strong focus on psychosocial and behavioral aspects of neurodevelopment, with a particular interest in Tourette syndrome and its associated conditions, including Attention Deficit Disorders, learning disabilities and anxiety disorders among others in the context of family and other social influences.  Current research activities explore behavioral intervention for youth with Tourette syndrome; and barriers & successful strategies in effective pediatric residency training in DBP. 
  • Dr. Herzig's research interests focus on children with Down syndrome, congenital heart disease or other medically complex/genetic conditions and their access to appropriate developmental surveillance and health supervision.

Research interests

Emergency Medicine Faculty in the Department of Pediatrics conduct research on problems related to the health and emergency care of children and adolescents. Specific areas of study include: infectious disease, vaccines, drowning and prevention, pediatric resuscitation, simulation, analgesia and sedation, musculoskeletal injuries, patient safety, medical education, mental health, management of medical complexity and use of interpretation.

Seattle Texas Los Angeles ResearchSeattle Children’s leads the STELAR research node of PECARN (Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network).

Global health research interests include: translation & disparities research, virtual simulation curriculum development and implementation, collaborative projects with PECC-Kenya fellowship, and childhood malnutrition in LMICs.

ED Research Team

Co-directors: Eileen Klein and Julie Brown
Research Manager: Bonnie Strelitz
Clinical Research Coordinators: Cynthia Tran, Catherine Nguyen, Rebecca Wilbur, Monet Tosch-Berneburg, Taylor Odom, Talia Park

 

 

Faculty in the Division of Endocrinology perform research in pediatric endocrinology, diabetes and obesity.

Our research programs center on the diagnosis, treatment, and quality of life of children and adolescents with gastrointestinal and liver diseases. Current topics of focus include therapy trials for viral hepatitis, acute liver failure, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and inflammatory bowel disease. We also have ongoing research in the area of liver transplantation and immune activity in maternal micochimerism in inflammatory bowel disease and biliary atresia. Many of these studies are being performed in collaboration with other centers around the United States.

  • Pathogenesis, progression, and treatment of pediatric genetic cholestatic liver diseases including biliary atresia, progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis, alpha-1-anti trypsin deficiency, and bile acid deficiency
  • Epidemiology, pathogenesis, and treatment of chronic viral hepatitis B and C
  • Pathogenesis and treatment of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis
  • Pathogenesis and treatment of intestinal failure
  • Outcome disparities in liver transplantation
  • Indicators of medical frailty among patients listed for liver transplant
  • Hepatocellular mechanisms and molecular toxicology behind the hepatotoxicity of many widely-used medicinal herbs

Faculty in General Pediatrics are affliated with a number of research centers associated with the University of Washington and Seattle Children's Hospital. Follow these links to learn about these research programs.

Our research holds the promise for both continued development of improved molecular diagnostic tools and successful treatment of inherited diseases. Research in the Division is highly patient-driven. It often begins with a physician identifying a particular patient’s problems and subsequently taking that problem into a laboratory setting for further analysis. The Division has a strong research focus with established research programs in medical genetics information systems, neurogenetic disorders, fetal alcohol syndrome, neuromuscular diseases, human teratology, population genetics/evolution and gene therapy.

Our research activities to improve cancer treatment encompass internationally recognized programs at Children’s, the University of Washington and FHCRC. These activities have been responsible for the development of widely used clinical treatments, including hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and novel targeted therapy for treating acute myelogenous leukemia, brain tumors, and neuroblastoma.

Our faculty carry out research within the Center for Immunity and Immunotherapies (CII) at Seattle Children's Research Institute. Our Center, also directed by Dr. Rawlings, brings together a dynamic group of distinguished experts across multiple disciplines to solve some of the immune system's most complex problems. CII researchers treat patients in the Immunology, Rheumatology and other clinics at Seattle Children's Hospital with the ultimate goal of applying what is learned in research to progressively advance the care of our patients.

Research within the CII extends full-circle, rapidly evolving from clinical questions to laboratory-based investigation and back to patients in the form of improved diagnostic tools for primary immune deficiency and autoimmune diseases, advanced therapies for genetic disorders, innovative vaccine strategies and enhanced immune monitoring techniques.

Harnessing the Immune System's Healing Potential

We begin with the premise that a child's immune system has vast healing potential. We focus on harnessing that potential by manipulating the immune system to treat pediatric diseases, including immune deficiency, autoimmunity, allergies, organ transplant rejection, infections and cancer. As part of this work, we are improving the molecular definition and diagnosis of immunological disorders, developing disease-specific cell therapies and stem cell transplantation approaches, modulating immune function through small-molecule therapeutics and working to cure immune deficiencies through cutting-edge gene therapy and gene repair.
Gene Therapy on CII
Northwest Genome Engineering Consortium (NGEC)

Working Collaboratively to Achieve Improved Health and Better Outcomes

Because the challenges are exceedingly complex, we search broadly for answers. For example, we leverage the strengths of our investigators and the broad expertise of our collaborators within the Northwest Genome Engineering Consortium (NGEC) in Seattle, along with other prominent academic and biotech research groups here and around the world. We are actively recruiting researchers who are leaders in the field — as well as graduate students, postdoctoral researchers from within, and beyond, the University of Washington Department of Immunology and technicians with outstanding scientific talent — to join our thriving research community and complement our existing expertise by bringing new approaches, innovations and capabilities.

Above all, we are motivated by our patients' courage and are committed to helping them achieve improved health and better outcomes.

Visit our website to take a tour of the Center for Immunity and Immunotherapy programs.

 

 

Infectious Diseases Research Programs

Christine Anterasian, MD

Dr. Anterasian’s research is focused on tuberculosis and understanding the innate immune response to infection. She is interested in identifying novel pathways in host defense against M. tuberculosis that can inform the development of host-directed therapeutics. Additionally, Dr. Anterasian studies infant immunogenetic responses to BCG vaccine. Dr. Anterasian research combines systems biology, genetics, and immunoassays approaches to advance our understanding of the host immune response to tuberculosis. 

Dr. Anterasian also attends on the inpatient Infectious Diseases service at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She has a clinical interest in infections in patients with inborn errors of immunity and is completing a second fellowship in Allergy/Immunology. Outside the hospital, she enjoys running, hiking, skiing, and spending time with her partner (and three dogs!). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?term=anterasian%2C+C

John Aitchison, PhD

The Aitchison lab focuses on the development and application of systems biology approaches to combat infectious diseases. Most recently, his group established the proof concept that virus infection induces vulnerabilities in infected cells that can be selectively targeted by drugs to kill virally infected cells and curtail viral replication. The Keck Foundation, which supports “projects that are distinctive and novel in their approach, question the prevailing paradigm, or have the potential to break open new territory in their field” awarded the Aitchison lab, in collaboration with Dr. Shuyi Ma, a research grant to expand on their initial findings, and develop the strategy for broad utility in host-based antiviral therapeutics. 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?term=aitchison+jd

Erin Chung, MD

Dr. Chung is a Clinical Fellow at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington on the Causes of Death, Shocks, Intermediate Causes, and Antimicrobial Resistance (CSIAMR) team. Her primary research interest on the CSIAMR team involves estimating the burden of sepsis and infectious syndrome, specifically how these conditions and antimicrobial resistance impact children. In addition to her primary research, she is interested in the application of diagnostic stewardship and health economics to decision-making in infectious diseases and is enrolled in the Epidemiology MS program at the University of Washington. Her clinical time includes inpatient Infectious Disease consultations at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Rhea Coler, M.Sc, Ph.D.

Dr. Coler has focused on four main areas: 1) Advancing tuberculosis (TB) vaccine platforms and models, 2) Blood processing and clinical immunology secondary endpoint and exploratory assays for VTEU, IDCRC and Biotech-funded trials to evaluate vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, Schistosoma mansoni, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis 3) Nontuberculous mycobacteria vaccine development and 4) Phage therapy to kill superbugs.

Dr. Coler’s research has contributed to the invention of the M72/AS01e and ID93+GLA-SE – lead TB vaccine candidates. Dr. Coler’s clinical trials include prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines for a variety of infectious diseases including TB, COVID-19, influenza, and schistosomiasis.

Link to publications: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/myncbi/1bks5Qubun7saH/bibliography/56150380/public/?sort=date&direction=ascending

Outside of the University, Dr. Coler enjoys spending time with her family and friends, cooking, traveling and scuba diving.

Janet Englund, MD

Dr. Englund’s research interests include the study of the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of viral respiratory diseases in children, pregnant women, and immunocompromised hosts. She studies new viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 with the Seattle Flu Study, now known as the Seattle Flu Alliance, as well as respiratory vaccines and novel methods of antiviral therapy for respiratory viruses including influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Dr. Englund has been a coinvestigator in maternal immunization studies with influenza vaccines in Nepal and RSV vaccines in Seattle.  As a Clinical Associate at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, she is involved in transplant-related protocols with Drs. Michael Boeckh and Alpana Waghmare studying the prevention, treatment and outcome of respiratory viral diseases in transplant recipients of all ages.

Dr. Englund’s research group at Seattle Children’s Hospital is part of the New Vaccine Surveillance Network of the Centers for Disease Control, participating in respiratory and gastrointestinal viral surveillance in collaboration with Dr. Eileen Klein, Pediatric Emergency Department, since 2010. Dr. Englund and her team are actively involved in studies of new respiratory vaccines including COVID-19 vaccines and booster vaccines in young children, as well as COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness studies and household surveillance studies as part of the CASCADIA study ongoing in the Seattle/Portland area.  Studies run by Drs. Englund and Waghmare include evaluation of the Pfizer BioNTech mRNA SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for children ages 6 months-11 years and immunocompromised children ages 2-17 years.  Our research group is also studying methods to diagnose and characterize viral respiratory diseases utilizing SARS-CoV-2 serological studies of individuals and populations over time.  Dr. Englund is a frequent speaker at local, national and international meetings. She is a past member of the WHO Influenza working group, and a current member of the Influenza Working Group and SARS-CoV-2 Diagnosis Working Group of the Infectious Disease Society of America.

A full listing of her publications can be found here:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/myncbi/janet.englund.1/bibliography/49608210/public/?sort=date&direction=ascending

Yasaman Fatemi, MD, MSHP 

Dr. Fatemi’s scholarly work focuses on diagnostic test stewardship and diagnostic error through a combination of quality improvement methodology and qualitative research. She is also very interested in graduate medical education, particularly curriculum development and program evaluation.  
Her clinical time includes inpatient Infectious Diseases consultation and the outpatient Infectious Diseases clinic. In addition, Dr. Fatemi serves as an Associate Medical Director for Infection Prevention at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Outside of work, she enjoys traveling, reading, hiking, exploring art museums, and going to ballet and symphony performances.

Lisa M. Frenkel, MD

Over the past 30 years, our group, in collaboration with colleagues in Kenya, Mozambique, Peru, South Africa, Thailand, Uganda and the United States, has conducted studies to address practical questions related to the prevention of HIV-1 infection in infants, mechanisms leading to HIV-1 shedding in breast milk and genital tract of adults, treatment of drug-resistant virus and mechanisms underlying the persistence of HIV infection despite effective antiretroviral treatment. Additionally, we have developed economical assays to improve the management of HIV infection accessible to resource-poor communities.

When studying transmitted resistance from HIV-infected mothers to their children, our group uncovered laboratory errors that refuted the concept of transient HIV infection occurring in infants (Science, 1998; PMID9582120). Findings from this study underscored the importance of meticulous Laboratory Quality Assurance in research. Our group has operated a CLIA Laboratory for >18 years primarily performing assays NIH IMPAACT Network.

Our laboratory located within SCRI found evidence and later provided proof that proliferating cells have a major role in sustaining the HIV reservoir despite effective treatment (J Virol 2005, PMID16014925) (Science 2014, PMID25011556).

More recently we have shown that HIV-infected clones fuel persistent low-level viremia during antiretroviral treatment (ART) and rebound viremia following ART suspension (PLoS Pathog 2020, PMID32841299). We described that HIV is integrated disproportionately into genes that control immune functions, the cell cycle, cancers or pathways controlling T-regulatory cells (J Infect Dis 2017, PMID28520966) and other pathways depending on if ART is initiated during acute or chronic HIV-1 infection (J Clinic Invest, accepted 2023). These finding led to investigatiions of HIV-1 integration on CD4 cell function (J Immunol 2022 PMID35264460) and current projects focused on (1) effects of integrated virus on high-risk HPV cervical infections, and (2) immune tolerance in HIV infected infants.

Our research on HIV drug resistance has defined reservoirs and effects of mutant codons (Clin Infect Dis 2010, PMID20377404) and the utility of point mutation assays in screening to diagnose HIV drug resistance (Lancet HIV 2019, PMID32386719). Our current studies aim to (1) define the mutant codons associated with failure of dolutegravir-based treatments, (2) develop inexpensive assays to detect these mutations in low-resource settings and (EBioMedicine 2019 PMID31767540 and AIDS 2020 PMID32205723), and (3) define the risk of genotypic HIV resistance for mother-to-child HIV transmission and treatment outcomes (Clin Infect Dis 2021, PMID34467974).

For a listing of our published research please access MyBibliography: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/myncbi/lisa.frenkel.1/bibliography/41149424/public/

Benjamin Gern, MD

The Gern lab focuses on the characterizing spatially organized host-pathogen interactions, with a particular focus on the immune response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), which kills 1.5 million people per year. Unfortunately, the limited efficacy of the only licensed tuberculosis vaccine (BCG) and the need for challenging, prolonged antibiotic treatment hamper our efforts to combat this deadly pandemic. To develop improved vaccines and treatments to combat tuberculosis, we need a better understanding of what is happening at the epicenter of infection: the pulmonary granuloma. To better understand the events within this epicenter of infection, the Gern Lab investigates host-pathogen interactions within the granuloma, with the ultimate goal of informing the design of improved treatments and vaccines. We utilize a combination of physiologic mouse models, human tissues, advanced immunologic tools, and cutting-edge quantitative imaging. In so doing, we have uncovered a dominant factor (TGFβ) that limits immunity within the granuloma, gained insight into aspects of the early events of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection, and characterized organizational features of tuberculous granulomas. We have also begun to characterize how different inflammatory responses lead to the wide range of pathologic structures that are a feature of tuberculosis disease. In the future, we have plans to test whether these processes are present in human granulomas and explore whether we can use treatments to shape these processes and improve infection outcomes.

Link to publications: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/myncbi/1vw0WYtqzeHkv/bibliography/53633873/public/.

Christoph Grundner, PhD

Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) remains the most deadly bacterial pathogen, and rampant drug resistance requires renewed efforts to find new and better therapies. At the core of Mtb’s success as a pathogen lies its ability to sense and adapt to host cues, in particular through sensor protein kinase signaling. The Grundner lab maps these signaling pathways and determines their role in Mtb physiology. These studies provide fundamental insight into Mtb biology and identify new targets for therapeutic interference. Because the Mtb Ser/Thr kinases are related to eukaryotic kinases, we repurpose the extensive pharmaceutical resources developed for targeting human kinases for use against Mtb. A major bottleneck in Mtb research on every level is the large number of genes with unknown function in the Mtb genome. Determining protein function is currently exceedingly slow and proceeds one protein at a time. To scale functional annotation to the level of other -omics approaches, we use activity-based protein profiling combined with mass spectrometry towards high-throughput identification of functions for these unknown proteins. These new tools allow probing of even the most divergent enzyme space and provide a more complete understanding of the genomic dark matter of Mtb.

Whitney Harrington, MD, PhD

Dr. Harrington’s research focuses on intergenerational immune interactions and their effect on susceptibility to infection during pregnancy and infection. In particular, her lab investigates the role of maternal microchimerism (maternal cells acquired by the fetus in utero) in fetal and infant immune development, early vaccine responses, and susceptibility to infection. Current projects in her lab include isolating and phenotyping maternal cells from pregnancies affected and unaffected by infection, determining whether infants acquire a maternal graft with immunologic memory, and investigating whether the maternal cells affect the development of immune responses against malaria, HIV, and CMV in the infant. She has also launched a number of SARS-CoV-2 related projects, including the identification and characterization of Spike-specific T cells in breastmilk. She collaborates with Drs. Aitchison, Englund, Frenkel, Gern, Jaspan, Minkah, Sather, and Sodora within the division.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/myncbi/whitney.harrington.1/bibliography/48255522/public/?sort=date&direction=ascending

Rafael E. Hernandez, MD, PhD

Dr. Rafael Hernandez’s research focuses on understanding the pathogenesis of mycobacteria. He studies both Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis, and nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM), which cause lung or other infections in people with cystic fibrosis and other underlying medical conditions. His focus is on developing better treatment strategies for both tuberculosis and NTM infections. One aim of his work is to understand how mycobacteria interact with cells of the immune system to promote their own survival and how this interaction may make them more resistant to killing by antibiotics. He is also focused on developing better treatment strategies for NTM, including using a modeling approach to identify multidrug regimens which are more effective against NTM. To conduct these investigations Dr. Hernandez employs a combination of bacterial genetics, microbiology, cellular model, and zebrafish animal model experimental approaches. This work will help to facilitate development of more effective and shorter treatments for both tuberculosis and NTM disease. Dr. Hernandez works closely with Dr. Sherman in the UW Department of Microbiology and Dr. Ma in Pediatrics. He also serves as the director of the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Isolate Core at Seattle Children’s Hospital, which distributes bacterial isolates and performs microbiology testing to facilitate CF microbiology research both locally and nationally.

Heather Jaspan, MD, PhD

Dr. Jaspan’s research group seeks to better understand the interplay between host microbial and immunological factors that impacts susceptibility to infectious diseases in infant and adolescents from sub-Saharan Africa. Our overarching goal is to pinpoint mechanisms by which dynamic community structures of commensal bacteria regulate immunology at mucosal surfaces and how that ultimately mitigates or promotes susceptibility to infectious disease. We additionally seek to elucidate the role that maternal HIV infection has on these commensal communities, and the resultant effects of HIV exposure on infant immunity immunology and vaccine responses. We utilize clinical, preclinical, and computational approaches to address these topics.

Stefan Kappe, Ph.D.

Dr. Kappe’s research focuses on the biology, immunology, and vaccinology of obligate intracellular Plasmodium parasites, which cause malaria, and on the development of interventions that prevent malaria infection. Dr. Kappe is particularly interested in the parasite’s mosquito stages and pre-erythrocytic stages including sporozoite and liver stage biology, immunology, and vaccine design. Both, the sporozoite stage but particularly the elusive liver stage, are challenging to work with and have remained poorly studied. The Kappe laboratory has pioneered functional genomics studies of both sporozoites and liver stages and has thus laid the groundwork for a systems approach to their analysis. The lab works with rodent malaria models and the human malaria parasites Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax. Dr. Kappe have made major contributions to the field by elucidating the molecular underpinnings that regulate sporozoite infectivity for the mammalian host, factors that are critical for parasite liver infection and key parasite and host factors that are critical for intrahepatocytic liver stage growth. He has also more recently contributed major findings in the area of host responses to liver stage infection and immunity to malaria parasite liver infection. Finally, Dr. Kappe has pioneered the design of genetically engineered, attenuated parasites for vaccination, which are tested in animal models but also in early phase human clinical studies called controlled human malaria infections. Dr. Kappe partners with biotech for manufacturing of these attenuated vaccine strains and further clinical development.

Alexis Kaushansky, PhD

Dr. Kaushansky’s research focus is host responses to infection. Her laboratory is particularly interested in how pathogens of global importance alter the biology of their hosts to ensure their own survival.  One major effort in the Kaushansky laboratory focuses on how Plasmodium parasites, the causative agent of malaria, alter two major environments after infection: (1) the liver, which is the site of asymptomatic infection and (2) the blood brain barrier, whose breakdown causes the most severe form of malaria pathogenesis, cerebral malaria. By identifying key host regulators of infection and pathogenesis, the Kaushansky lab has identified targeted interventions that can eliminate infection.  In addition to uncovering key regulators of malaria infection, research from the Kaushansky lab has also highlighted similarities and differences between the host response to infection by the divergent parasites Toxoplasma gondii and Trypanosoma cruzi. A better understanding of these similarities and differences could lead to broadly applicable interventions that target multiple infections with a single regimen. Acknowledging that the “right tools for the job” are often not available when studying infectious disease, the Kaushansky lab has ongoing efforts that aim to develop technologies that overcome barriers to studying infectious disease. These tools include (1) computational tools to model host and drug responses to infection, (2) robotic systems to automate laborious laboratory tasks and, (3) the development of organs-on-chip systems in collaboration with bioengineers to study infections in vitro in a realistic environment. She collaborates broadly with scientists throughout the University of Washington and internationally.  Within the division, she has ongoing research projects with Drs. Sather, Minkah, Ma, Smith, Aitchison and Rajagopal. A list of research publications can be found here.

Victoria Lopez Konold, MD

Dr. Konold’s research focuses on the intersection of informatics, quality improvement and antimicrobial stewardship. She investigates ways to leverage the electronic health record to 1. Nudge provider behaviors toward guideline-centered care, and 2. Extract data from the electronic health record to answer questions about quality, equity and to better characterize the success of antimicrobial stewardship interventions. Examples of this work include re-purposing EHR auto-correct functionality to provide in-the-moment feedback encouraging replacement terminology for historically racist medical jargon, deploying an electronic checklist helping clinicians to better characterize penicillin allergy labeling during allergy history taking, and creating a dashboard to identify adverse events associated with outpatient parenteral antimicrobial therapy. Within the Division, she collaborates with Drs. Kronman and Weissman on projects related to antimicrobial stewardship

Her clinical time includes inpatient Infectious Diseases consultations and the outpatient Infectious Diseases clinic. In addition, she directs QI for the division and is the Associate Medical Director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Outside of the hospital, she enjoys growing flowers in the garden, rediscovering her love of cycling, swimming, and dancing, and spending time exploring the PNW with her partner and their tiny adventure dog. Her publications can be found here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/myncbi/victoria.konold.1/bibliography/public/

Matthew "Boots" Kronman, MD, MSCE

Dr. Kronman’s primary research interest is antimicrobial stewardship, using the tools of pharmacoepidemiology to understand current patterns of antimicrobial use, identify the unintended consequences of antimicrobial overuse, and ultimately find ways to improve the overall quality of antimicrobial prescribing for various conditions. His clinical time is split between inpatient Infectious Diseases consultations and the outpatient Infectious Diseases Clinic. He works closely with Dr. Urdahl, the Research Director, and Training Grant Principal Investigator, to coordinate all aspects of research training for our fellows. Within the Division, he collaborates with Drs. Zerr, McGrath, Weissman, Fatemi and Konold on projects related to infection prevention and antimicrobial stewardship. Outside the Division, he collaborates with researchers at other institutions on projects related to antimicrobial stewardship in both inpatient and outpatient settings. His publications can be found here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/myncbi/1lsUkL-a7okQs/bibliography/40353058/public/?sort=date&direction=ascending

Shuyi Ma, PhD

Dr. Ma’s research focuses on studying the complex molecular interplay between host, pathogen, and drugs during infection and treatment, focusing on tuberculosis.  Dr. Ma’s laboratory is using drugs as chemical tools and computational modeling as a framework to understand how changes in the network of interacting genes in the bacteria and the host decide the balance of fates between these organisms during infection. By better understanding the behavior of these biological networks during infection and treatment, Dr. Ma’s laboratory seeks to uncover new biological insights that will inform the rational design of combinatorial therapies that maximize efficacy, minimize toxicity, and mitigate drug evasion by simultaneously targeting both host and pathogen.

Dr. Ma’s bibliography: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/myncbi/1JKOVckGwAdQ9/bibliography/46501788/public/

Suzanne McDermott, PhD

Dr. McDermott’s research encompasses understanding protozoan pathogen biology and also human immune responses to their infection/vaccination, focusing on two main areas: (1) Studying the molecular biology of trypanosomes to understand potential therapeutic targets, using a combination of structural proteomics and genetics, and (2) identification of protective antigens, antigen receptors, and immune responses following malaria infection and vaccination, using multi-omic, systems approaches.

Dr. McDermott’s research has led to a deep understanding of key protein domains and interactions in therapeutic targets that carry out essential RNA editing in trypanosomes. She also developed genetic tools that allowed high-throughput mutational scanning to be carried out for the first time in trypanosomes, which has led to new insights into target protein function. She became excited to apply similar high-throughput molecular, proteomic, and genetic approaches to more translational questions, specifically the important characterization of immune antigen receptor-pathogen antigen interactions following malaria vaccination and infection. Here she has, 1) adapted the yeast display system for surface expression of selected malaria antigens and their cognate antibodies such that their interactions can be determined via a synthetic yeast mating assay (AlphaSeq), and 2) initiated multi-omic studies of single cell transcriptomes, surface proteins, and antigen receptors in heterogenous immune cell samples from malaria vaccine trial subjects. 

Dr. McDermott also teaches in the Pathobiology Graduate Program at the University of Washington Department of Global Health. Outside the lab and classroom, she enjoys hiking, diving, dancing, and playing old time fiddle music. She also loves spending time with her two pups.

Caitlin McGrath, MD, MS

Dr. McGrath’s research interests include the epidemiology and prevention of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), including central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs). She is particularly interested in novel strategies to ensure equity in HAI prevention, the use of existing HAI surveillance systems to identify and mitigate inequities. She was a 2022-23 Leadership in Epidemiology, Antimicrobial Stewardship, and Public Health (LEAP) Fellow and partners with the Washington State DOH on projects related to HAIs and health equity.

Her clinical time is spent on the inpatient infectious diseases consult service and in general ID outpatient clinic, and she serves as an Associate Medical Director for Infection Prevention at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She loves partnering with teams throughout the hospital to work collaboratively to prevent and treat infections. She is also engaged in resident and medical student education and mentoring. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband, two young daughters, and dog.

Brandon Maust, MD

Dr. Maust studies the microbiota, focusing on characterizing the virome using next-generation sequencing. He is interested in how the microbiome impacts the risk of acquiring HIV through inflammation and other alterations of immunity and how antiretrovirals impact commensal bacteria and viruses. He collaborates closely with Dr. Jaspan and her global network of collaborators to answer these questions.

His clinical time includes the inpatient Infectious Disease Consult service and patients with CMV, HIV, or HSV infection in Virology clinic.

Ann Melvin, MD
Dr. Melvin is director of the Pediatric HIV program at SCH. Her research interests are in the antiretroviral management of HIV disease in children and prevention and management of complications of HIV treatment. Dr. Melvin is an investigator in the NIH-sponsored International Maternal Pediatric Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials network. She is a Co-chair of the DHHS Panel on Antiretroviral Therapy and Medical Management of HIV-Infected Children: Guidelines for the Use of Antiretroviral Agents in Pediatric HIV Infection. She is also the Faculty lead for the Research Recruitment Service for the Institute for Translational Health Sciences of the University of Washington. She collaborates with Drs. Frenkel, Englund and Vora.

URL:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/myncbi/ann.melvin.1/bibliography/48115937/public/?sort=date&direction=ascending

Peter J Myler, Ph.D.

The Myler laboratory makes extensive use of genome-scale approaches, such as for genome (re-)sequencing, mRNA profiling (RNA-seq) and chromatin immunoprecipitation using sequencing (ChIP-seq), to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying transcription and regulation of gene expression during Leishmania differentiation. We are particularly interested in elucidating the role of epigenomic histone and DNA modifications (including the novel DNA base J) in these processes. For the past 20 years, we have been actively involved in structural genomics and Dr. Myler is currently PI and director of the Seattle Structural Genomics Center for Infectious Disease (SSGCID), which is funded under a contract from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The mission of SSGCID is to use X-ray crystallography, Cryo-electron microscopy and NMR spectroscopy to solve the structure of proteins targets in emerging and re-emerging infectious disease organisms, primarily to facilitate development of new therapeutics using structure-based drug design.

Donald Nyangahu, PhD

Dr. Nyangahu’s research is focused on understanding the impact of the maternal and infant gut microbiota on immune development in infants. This includes investigating how alterations in maternal or infant intestinal communities may impact infant vaccine responses and immunity to pathogens as well as associated mechanisms. Infants born to mothers with HIV, even when HIV uninfected themselves display enhanced susceptibility to infectious diseases. Dr. Nyangahu is interested in unraveling novel mechanisms for this phenomenon.  To address these questions, Dr. Nyangahu performs translational work conducting research in human infants and validating findings using conventional and germ-free mouse models. Furthermore, Dr. Nyangahu is interested in understanding the role of gut microbiota in driving growth phenotypes both in HIV exposed infants and in malnourished infants with or without diarrhea. To this end, he is collaborating with various UW investigators working in the field of childhood malnutrition and infant immunity in HIV-exposed infants in Kenya and South Africa. Outside of research, Donald enjoys playing soccer, watching tennis and spending time with his family.

Samson Obado, PhD

The focus of the Obado lab is understanding the functional relationship between the control of gene regulation, RNA export and the nuclear pore complex or NPC (the sole mediator of nucleocytoplasmic transport) in trypanosomes. Trypanosomes are a diverse family of protozoans that are obligatory parasites of invertebrates, vertebrates, and plants. Trypanosomes (including Leishmania) cause major public health and economic problems in the developing world. and are a growing problem in the southern states of the United States in the form of Chagas disease. Collectively, Human African Trypanosomiasis (caused by Trypanosoma brucei), American trypanosomiasis or Chagas’ disease (Trypanosoma cruzi) and Leishmaniasis (Leishmania spp), affects more than 27 million people worldwide and cause approximately ~150,000 deaths annually. The RNA export pathway in trypanosomes is evolutionarily divergent from those of its vertebrate hosts as evidenced by the composition and architecture of the trypanosome NPC. The goal of the lab is to combine protein-protein interactome mapping with cellular and structural biology to reveal and determine the composition of the transcription-export complexes and uncover new RNA export pathways in these organisms of public health importance.

Tanya Parish, PhD

Dr Parish’s research is focused in two main areas: (i) understanding the biology of the global pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis; and (ii) discovering and developing novel drugs for tuberculosis that are effective at curing drug sensitive and drug resistant tuberculosis. Her fundamental research addresses mechanisms of antibiotic resistance, the mode of action of antibiotics and the investigation of essential cellular processes in mycobacteria. Her applied work encompasses a range of early-stage drug discovery including assay development and high throughput screening, drug target identification and validation, and medicinal and synthetic chemistry.

Complete List of Published Work in MyBibliography

The Parish Lab

Lakshmi Rajagopal, PhD
Dr. Rajagopal is a Professor of Pediatrics, Adjunct Professor of Microbiology and Global Health at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. Her laboratory is located at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Her research interest is to understand virulence mechanisms of human pathogens and their interactions with the host. Her laboratory currently focuses on understanding how virulence factors of Group B Streptococcus (GBS) contribute to stillbirth, preterm birth and neonatal infections. Studies from her laboratory showed that the molecular basis for GBS hemolysis is the ornithine rhamnolipid pigment and increased pigment expression exacerbates GBS virulence. Dr. Rajagopal has received multiple grants from the National Institutes of Health for her GBS research and serves as a permanent member of the Bacterial Pathogenesis Study Section. Recently, Dr. Rajagopal is also involved in efforts to understand how the Zika virus causes fetal injury during pregnancy. The goal of the research in the Rajagopal laboratory is to ultimately translate the research findings into therapeutic measures that can prevent infections during pregnancy.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/myncbi/lakshmi.rajagopal.1/bibliography/41150840/public/?sort=date&direction=descending

D. Noah Sather, Ph.D.

Dr. Sather’s research focuses on the development of vaccines to induce protective antibody responses against disease causing pathogens. A guiding principle of this work is to understand infection-induced antibody responses to serve a natural prototype to guide vaccine development. The two main areas for research are HIV-1 and malaria.  His HIV-1 work has helped to define how broadly neutralizing antibodies develop during infection, and his current efforts are focused on understanding the kinetics, dynamics, and evolution of B cell responses to vaccination with HIV-1 Envelope proteins. His malaria work spans two species of malaria-causing parasites: Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax, and spans through multiple lifecycle intervention points. The major areas of this work include identification of new vaccine candidates, optimization of protective responses, and understanding how pre-existing immunity influences vaccine outcomes. In the fight against COVID-19, the lab is interested in understanding immune responses to Variants of Concern. They have now developed and contributed more than 30 recombinant trimeric Spike proteins derived from SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Concern that have helped advance our knowledge of how to fight the evolving pandemic. Publications: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?term=noah+sather&sort=date

Joseph D. Smith, PhD

Dr. Smith’s lab investigates malaria pathogenesis and new approaches to treat vascular dysfunction resulting from hyperinflammatory injury. Malaria is an infectious disease caused by parasites that are transmitted by the bites of mosquitoes. Cerebral malaria is a life-threatening complication caused by intense sequestration of Plasmodium falciparum-infected red blood cells in the brain microvasculature, leading to microvascular obstruction and breakdown of the blood-brain barrier. The Smith lab and our team of collaborators have developed novel bioengineered brain microvessel models to investigate disease processes in the laboratory and we are investigating patients in Africa and India to study how brain endothelial cells respond to host and parasite inflammatory factors and to determine why there is severe brain swelling in some cerebral malaria patients. In related research, we are investigating the signaling mechanisms that regulate endothelial barrier properties and evaluating drug-repurposing of kinase inhibitors to treat vascular dysfunction in different disease contexts.

A complete list of Smith lab publications can be found here.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/myncbi/joseph.smith.1/bibliography/41158270/public/?sort=date&direction=descending

Donald Sodora, PhD

Studies in Dr. Sodora’s laboratory evaluate the interplay between viral infections and the host innate immune response. Our work is particularly interested in understanding this interplay during HIV infection. One aspect of our studies is to investigate the earliest immune and viral events following HIV infection with the overarching goal of providing key insights for the design of an effective HIV vaccine. A second aspect of our studies is to evaluate inflammatory and dysregulatory processes associated with HIV disease progression with the goal of identifying therapeutic approaches to lessen HIV disease progression and prevent or reverse HIV associated co-morbidities. These studies are pertinent to adults as well as infants, in whom HIV disease progresses more rapidly, and for whom the studies are particularly important. We use state-of-the-art technologies, including digital spatial profiling and confocal microscopy, to identify areas of inflammation in HIV infected tissues; and we apply transcriptomic assessments to evaluate the underlying mechanisms driving cellular activation.Studies in the Sodora laboratory involve both animal models and human cohort studies.  www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/myncbi/donald.sodora.1/bibliography/public/

Caleb Stokes, MD, PhD
I am interested in the mechanisms of brain injury caused by infection or inflammation within the central nervous system (CNS). My graduate training was in basic and developmental neurosciences; understanding neural circuits and nervous system dysfunction are some of my primary scientific motivations. As an infectious diseases clinician and translational researcher, I hope to develop tools that prevent the detrimental effects of inflammation while enhancing immune function to protect neuronal circuits during infection. I am currently studying how the innate immune system helps control Zika virus infection, using induced neural progenitor cells which are derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Using this system, we are able to derive all of the major cell types present in the developing brain, which has allowed us to identify differences in the ways that neural progenitors, neurons and glia respond to viral infection. I am also exploring how West Nile Virus infection activates inflammatory microglia to cause damage to neuronal functions, and testing therapies that can reverse this harmful neuroinflammation.

I am actively engaged in teaching and mentoring activities through Seattle Children’s hospital and my basic science work. I am firmly committed to increasing the number and impact of underrepresented minorities and women in biomedical research and improving equity in medicine.

NIH bibliography: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/myncbi/1t3Q9m88doE56/bibliography/public/

 Ken Stuart, PhD

Dr. Stuart’s research is primarily focused on malaria and Trypanosomal pathogens and the diseases that they cause. His lab is investigating human immune responses to malaria vaccination and infection to elucidate protective immune response to advance vaccine development. He leads a multi-institution U19 research program on human immune responses to HIV, malaria, and SARS CoV2, that is part of the NIH Human Immunology Project Consortium and a malaria vaccine immunology project that is part of a NIH funded immunity research consortium. He also investigates RNA editing in trypanosomatid parasites to elucidate novel molecular functions of this fundamental molecular and cellular process that shares molecular attributes among eukaryotes and to identify potential drug targets. He led parasite genomics and drug discovery consortia, has served on NIH study sections, NIAID Council and USAID and WHO advisory groups.

Zheyi Teoh, MBBS, MsPH, FAAP
Dr. Teoh’s research interests are focused on respiratory viral epidemiology including understanding the natural history of viral infections, viral seasonality, and understanding viral-viral interaction. Dr. Teoh is also interested in clinical research including the impact and epidemiology of infectious diseases in solid organ transplantation.

Dr Teoh’s clinical time includes inpatient Infectious Diseases consultation and is the infectious disease liaison for the solid organ transplant programs at Seattle Children’s Hospital. When not taking care of patients, Dr. Teoh enjoys outdoor activities including climbing, downhill skiing, beach volleyball and spending time with his spouse and three dogs.

Kevin Urdahl, MD, PhD

Dr. Urdahl’s research is focused on understanding the immunity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) and seeks to inform the rational design of an effective vaccine. He uses advanced immunologic approaches in the mouse Mtb model to identify innate and adaptive mechanisms that promote immunity against Mtb, as well as those that restrict immunity. Recently, his lab has developed a new mouse model, in which mice are infected with an ultra-low dose of Mtb (1-3 founding bacteria), that better recapitulates several features of human TB. They are currently using this model to gain new insights into Mtb immunity and pathogenesis, and also trying to develop this model further as a platform for pre-clinical testing of TB vaccine and therapeutic candidates. Dr. Urdahl is the PI of Cascade IMPAc-TB, a large NIH consortium that seeks to identify mechanisms of immunity against Mtb by integrating animal and human studies. Through this consortium, he collaborates with three clinical sites in Africa and his research in mice is shaped by this crosstalk with human TB research

Ashley Vaughan, BSc, PhD

Ashley received his PhD from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and studies the disease malaria, caused by Plasmodium parasites. He has showed the importance of the parasite’s fatty acid synthetic pathway for sporozoite and liver stage maturation. He also researches how to elicit the most protective immune response after vaccination with genetically attenuated parasites. Ashley has led significant advances in the use of human-liver chimeric mouse models in studying malaria. This includes complete liver stage development and the transition to blood stage malaria in the mouse for the human malarias Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax. He has also used this mouse model for the creation of experimental Plasmodium falciparum genetic crosses, a significant advance that will aid in our understanding of Plasmodium falciparum drug resistance. More recently, Ashley has been using the human-liver chimeric mouse model to study the commitment dormant liver stage hypnozoite formation in Plasmodium vivax as well as hypnozoite persistence and activation. Ashley continues to be fascinated by basic parasite pre-erythrocytic biology – the mosquito and liver stages of the life cycle and to this end uses rodent malaria parasite transgenesis to understand how the parasite interacts with its vector and host during sporozoite and liver stage development. Ashley collaborates with Drs. Kappe, Sather and Aitchison at the Center for Global Infectious Disease Research. Ashley also collaborates both nationally and internationally with malaria experts including Dr. Jetsumon Sattabongkot at Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand, a leading expert in the field of P. vivax research.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/myncbi/ashley.vaughan.1/bibliography/public/ (100 publications).

Surabhi (Sara) Vora, MD, MPH

Dr. Vora’s primary research area of interest is infections in immunocompromised hosts, especially viral and fungal infections in patients with primary immune deficiency and those who have received CAR T-cells and hematopoietic cell transplants. She is an investigator for the International Pediatric Fungal Network as well as the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Transplant Research Network and has been involved in multidisciplinary efforts to develop local and national guidance for pediatric patients with COVID-19 infections as a member of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society (PIDS) COVID-19 Therapeutics Task Force.  Her clinical time is split between the inpatient infectious diseases service and outpatient clinic, and she serves as the Clinical Director of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases as well as a Immunocompromised Host and Transplant ID liaison. In addition, she serves as a consultant to the Seattle Children’s Hospital Clinical Effectiveness (CE) Program, assisting with the development and implementation of standardized clinical pathways of care. Dr. Vora is Co-Director of the Center for Quality and Patient Safety’s Research and Writing Team, which works to disseminate learnings from clinical pathways and other hospital QI endeavors to quality improvement literature. Dr. Vora also serves as a coach for pediatric residents.

 

Alpana Waghmare, MD

Dr. Waghmare’s research is focused on respiratory viral infections in immunocompetent and immunocompromised adults and children. She is interested in the factors that influence disease severity and progression, with the intent to identify diagnostic, prevention, and treatment strategies. Dr. Waghmare’s focus to date has been on the impact of human rhinovirus, the most common virus detected from respiratory specimens in hematopoietic cell transplant recipients. She is working to identify clinical, viral, and host factors that may serve as biomarkers for disease severity. Viral factors she is evaluating include viral load in blood and respiratory secretions, strain type, and shedding duration. Host factors are being evaluated through host cytokine responses and whole blood gene expression profiles. These determinants of disease will serve as biomarkers for risk stratification and can be used diagnostically to predict poor outcome, thus defining patients who warrant aggressive treatment strategies. Additionally, these studies will provide important insight into biologic pathways during infection and define possible targets for intervention. Dr. Waghmare’s group is investigating similar markers of disease progression for other respiratory viruses, including parainfluenza viruses and respiratory syncytial virus. Since the onset of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, Dr. Waghmare has been evaluating the natural history of infection in a longitudinal surveillance cohort study of individuals at high risk of infection. The goals of the study include understanding the incidence rate, viral shedding duration and re-infection rates as well as defining the kinetics of antibody and T-cell responses in infected individuals.

Dr. Waghmare is also involved in clinical trials for novel antivirals and immune based therapies for the treatment of respiratory viral infections in children and adults.

Thor Wagner, MD

Dr. Wagner’s research is focused on understanding and treating chronic viral infections. His primary focus is pediatric HIV, which accounts for 10% of all HIV deaths Dr. Wagner has been focused on the mechanisms that allow HIV to persist despite prolonged antiretroviral treatment. This research led Dr. Wagner to focus on treatment strategies that target HIV-infected cells. Currently Dr. Wagner is developing anti-HIV chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells, which are also resistant to HIV, as a potential strategy to cure HIV. The lab is currently optimizing this approach in vitro and testing CAR T cells in small and large animal models. His lab has also started to explore cell therapy for other chronic viral infections.

Scott Weissman, MD

Dr. Weissman leverages clinical microbiology data to inform antimicrobial stewardship interventions in the inpatient setting.  He has developed and supported programs to: manage complex urology patients with recurrent multi-drug-resistant infections; create Individualized Antibiotic Plans for patients undergoing hematopoietic cell transplantation; de-label patients with penicillin allergy histories; and promote equitable utilization of outpatient parenteral antimicrobial therapy. Since 2015, he has also worked with the University of Washington’s Center for One Health Research to develop surveillance strategies and systems that provide for inference of molecular dynamics from pooled clinical microbiology data across Washington State.

Danielle Zerr, MD, MPH

Dr. Zerr’s research has focused on two main areas: (1) defining the epidemiology of viral pathogens in healthy children and immunocompromised hosts and (2) describing the epidemiology and defining effective prevention strategies for healthcare-associated infections. Dr. Zerr’s research has contributed to defining the epidemiology of human herpesvirus 6B (HHV-6B) from primary infection to reactivation following hematopoietic cell transplantation. Dr. Zerr is also the Seattle Children’s site principal investigator for the Pediatric Pandemic Network, a HRSA-funded network aimed at improving the care of children during disasters including pandemics.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/myncbi/danielle.zerr.1/bibliography/public/

Dr. Zerr’s clinical time includes inpatient Infectious Diseases consultations and the outpatient Infectious Diseases clinic. In addition, she is the Medical Director for the Infection Prevention Program at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Outside the hospital, she enjoys hiking and cross-country skiing whenever she can find someone to go along. She also loves spending time with her young adult children, spouse, and pups.

 

Our division faculty have research focused on neuroscience, medical education, global neonatal-perinatal health, and ethics.

 

Network diagram showing division collaborations from 2020-2022

 

Research Programs

Neonatal Neuroscience

Our Neonatal Neuroscience Program is focused on improving the neurodevelopmental outcomes of high‐risk infants. Components of our program include the Neonatal BRAIN Research Network Neuroscience laboratory in which we carry out basic science studies to better understand mechanisms of brain injury and repair in a variety of neonatal brain injury models (rodents, ferrets and nonhuman primates), and the Brain Research Advancement in Neonatology (BRAIN) team which targets interdisciplinary clinical and translational research.

Core Programs

  • Neonatal neuroscience laboratory (NNL)- Sandra Juul, Tommy Wood, Janessa Law, Daniel Moralejo, Kylie Corry
  • Brain Research Advancement in Neonatology (BRAIN) Team- Janessa Law, Tommy Wood, Mihai Puia-Dumitrescu, Kendell German, Krystle Perez, Ulrike Mietzsch
  • NeuroNICU- Ulrike Mietzsch, Nina Natarajan, Jason Hauptman, Sandra Juul, Francisco Perez, Dennis Shaw, Hannah Tully, Mark Wainwright, Emily Myers
  • Infant Development Follow-Up Clinic (IDFC)/Late and Moderate Preterm Babies Clinic (LAMBs)- Emily Myers, Nina Natarajan, Kendell German
  • Neuroscience Fellowship Track- Sandra Juul, Nina Natarajan, Dennis Mayock, Kendell German, Janessa Law, Mihai Puia-Dumitrescu, Ulrike Mietzsch, Megan Gray, Thomas Wood
  • PENUT and HEAL Data Coordinating Center (DCC)- Patrick Heagerty, Bryan Comstock
  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC)- Michael Guralnick, Sandra Juul
  • Biomedical Image Computing GroupColin Studholme, Todd Richards, Manjiri Dighe

Ongoing Trials and Collaborations

  • Preterm Epo Neuroprotection (PENUT) trial- Sandra Juul, Patrick Heagerty, Dennis Mayock, Bryan Comstock
  • High-dose Erythropoietin for Asphyxia and Encephalopathy (HEAL)- Sandra Juul, Patrick Heagerty, Dennis Mayock, Bryan Comstock
  • Washington study of Outcomes, Neural Development and Early Risk (WONDER)- Frederick Shic, Sara Webb, Dennis Mayock
Neonatal Education and Simulation-based Training (NEST) Program

Investigators: Rachel Umoren, MBBCh, MS, Program Director, Director for Immersive Learning and Telesimulation; Taylor Sawyer, DO, MBA, MEd, Director of Outreach Education; Thomas Strandjord, MD, Director of Clinical Integration; Megan M. Gray, MD, Director of Research; Zeenia Billimoria, MD, Director of ECMO and Transport Simulation; Sarah Handley, MD, Associate Director of Outreach Education; Chris Cooper, ARNP, NNP, DNP, MBA, Associate Director of Clinical Integration; Krista Birne MD, Associate Director of Telesimulation; Maneesh Batra, MD, MPH, Elena Bosque PhD, ARNP, NNP‐BC. Sara Berkelhamer, MD.

Network diagram showing NEST publications from 2020-2022

In 2014, the Division of Neonatology joined an elite group of neonatal divisions who own and operate a dedicated neonatal simulation program. The Neonatal Education and Simulation‐ based Training (NEST) Program sets the UW and Seattle Children’s Division of Neonatology apart and highlights the Division’s dedication to simulation‐based education. The mission of the NEST Program is to improve neonatal outcomes through advanced technology‐enhanced  training  and  simulation  research. The program’s vision is to provide global leadership in neonatal education, simulation‐based training and scholarship. Current projects include: ‘boot camps’ for residents and fellows, neonatal resuscitation training, neonatal procedural skills training, development of a computer‐based perinatal counseling simulator, and virtual reality neonatal disaster training. The NEST program works to improve the care of neonates in the Seattle region by conducting educational outreach with pediatric providers and neonatal transport teams.

Translational, Clinical, and Quality Improvement Research

Investigators: Zeenia Billimoria, MD; Shilpi Chabra, MD; Robert DiGeronimo, MD; Kendell German, MD; MD; Elizabeth Jacobson, MD; Sandra Juul, MD, PhD; Dennis Mayock, MD; Ulrike Mietzsch, MD; Mihai Puia‐Dumitrescu, MD, MPH; Taylor Sawyer, DO, MEd; Thomas Strandjord, MD; Rachel Umoren, MD, MS; Elliott Weiss, MD, MSME; Steve Welty, MD

The Outcomes Research Collaborative is dedicated to improving the health and healthcare received by neonates in our units locally, regionally and nationally. Our diverse group performs innovative research in the fields of neonatal epidemiology and pharmacoepidemiology, health services research studying the impact of variation in clinical practice and outcomes, resource utilization and disparities in perinatal and neonatal healthcare. We develop and perform research projects and studies through our active affiliations with the Children’s Hospitals Neonatal Consortium (CHNC) and the Vermont Oxford Network (VON). We participate and lead pharmaceutical trials for new drugs and devices. We utilize large regional and national datasets to study short‐ and long‐term outcomes on neonates.

Our division has established a local Quality Improvement Microsystem at Children’s and a larger Regional Quality Improvement Program that oversees collaborative QI work done across all our NICUs in the region.

As practicing physicians, we always prioritize the patient. Our group conducts innovative research to deliver on our mission to share knowledge that improves the outstanding evidence‐based care of patients in our units and outside, and to educate the next generation of clinicians and researchers. This is possible through high quality translational, clinical and QI research. One of the goals of our group is to improve neonatal and pediatric therapeutics by establishing proper guidelines, dosing, safety, and efficacy of drugs and devices used in infants and children through research in pharmacotherapy, trials, and pharmacoepidemiology. We develop and perform research projects and studies through our active affiliations with the Children’s Hospitals Neonatal Consortium and the Vermont Oxford Network. We participate and lead pharmaceutical trials for new drugs and devices. We also report short‐ and long‐ term outcomes on neonates’ and infants’ data captured by different local, regional, national and international datasets that are available to us.

With the most vulnerable patient in mind (the premature infant or critically ill neonate), we are committed to translating scientific evidence into practical guidelines and establishing new therapies and treatment standards for the ultimate goal of improving the lives of our patients.

Global Neonatal Medicine

Investigators: Maneesh Batra MD MPH, Sara Berkelhamer MD, Cyril Engmann MD, Anna Hedstrom MD, Krystle Perez MD MPH, Rachel Umoren MBBCh, MS, Gregory Valentine, MD MEd

Network diagram showing Align publications from 2020-2022

We have a focus on improving neonatal outcomes globally. The majority of small and sick newborns are born in resource‐limited settings where there are significant barriers to optimizing neonatal care. Additionally, a significant proportion of newborns in these settings are at risk for not meeting their developmental potential. Our members have a focus on overcoming these barriers through various means: advocacy and policy changes at local, national, and international levels; development of low‐cost, innovative solutions to resource‐constraints; mentorship for trainees seeking global health educational opportunities; and research into the impact of health disparities and how resource‐allocation impacts both maternal and neonatal outcomes. In 2020, our group developed ALIGN (Advancing Learning and Innovation in Global Neonatology) to enhance collaboration among members both within and outside of our division. The goal is to facilitate and promote projects that focus on improving neonatal outcomes and health disparities both locally and worldwide.

Neonatal Ethics and Parental Decision-Making

Investigators: Elliott Weiss MD, MSME, Craig Jackson, MD

Ethical issues are frequently encountered by neonatologists. Our group examines how parents make medical decisions when their infant is in the NICU. Utilizing qualitative and quantitative methods, we aim to gain a deeper understand of how parents make medical decisions in the emotion‐laden, high‐stakes, and complex medical reality that often surrounds a seriously ill infant. Other areas of interest include clinical informed consent, research ethics and diversity in research populations, ethics at the limits of viability, and resource allocation in times of scarcity.

Neonatal Pulmonary Physiology

Investigators: Sara Berkelhamer, MD

The complex physiology of premature and newborn infants represent an area of great interest in optimizing outcomes. Despite notable progress in both survival and associated morbidity with premature birth, limited progress has been made in reducing rates of bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Research in translation models of pulmonary disease provide insight into basic mechanisms and optimal management of disease. Novel work in resuscitation models influences resuscitation algorithms at birth.

Clinical Research

Our clinical research training activities can be grouped into four major areas:

  1. Treatment & outcomes of acute renal failure
  2. Treatment & outcomes in chronic renal failure and end-stage renal disease
  3. Renal transplantation
  4. Renal thrombotic microangiopathies

Basic Science Research

Members of the division are also actively engaged in basic science research. Our primary areas of interest pertain to the cellular and molecular mechanisms of chronic kidney disease. The three major overlapping themes being explored by our basic science faculty are: 1. Inflammation and response to renal injury, 2. Matrix biology and fibrogenesis, and 3. Vascular biology, atherosclerosis, and angiogenesis.

Examples of current research interests among divisional and non–divisional faculty who may work with fellows in the division include: lung development, lung injury models, asthma, RSV preventive therapies, clinical and basic research on pseudomonas endobronchial infection in cystic fibrosis, and gene therapy related to cystic fibrosis.

Our research missions are:

  1. To develop new and more effective treatments for pediatric rheumatic diseases and better understand their long term outcomes.
  2. To expand and support basic science and translational research into the etiology and pathogenesis of rheumatic diseases.
  3. To encourage and enable patient participation in studies that will further the development of best treatments such that every child with an identifiable rheumatologic disease has the opportunity to participate in a research study.
  4. To develop clinical educator research and technology, improving access to care and education of physicians about pediatric rheumatic disease.

 

Research Administration

Vice Chair of Research

Lucas R. Hoffman, MD, PhD

Professor Vice Chair of Research Director, Seattle Children’s Therapeutics Development Center for CF Microbiology

ASSOCIATE VICE CHAIR FOR BASIC SCIENCE RESEARCH

Stefan Kappe, PhD

Professor at the Center for Global Infectious Disease Research

ASSOCIATE VICE CHAIR FOR CLINICAL RESEARCH

Margaret Rosenfeld, MD, MPH

Professor Associate Vice Chair of Clinical Research Interim Co-Center Director, SCRI's Center for Clinical and Translational Research Director, Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia Clinic

Research Administrator

Patrick Lennon

Research Administrator