With a $2.25 million five-year grant, Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital have been named one of the newest core centers of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Pediatric Heart Network, which was established in 2001 to improve outcomes and quality of life of children with heart disease. The NHLBI is one of the National Institutes of Health.

BCM, a world leader in biomedical research, and hospital partner Texas Children's, an internationally recognized leader in pediatric care, will serve as one core site in the network.

Childhood heart disease

"This network is designed to foster multi-center studies related to childhood heart disease that aim to address important clinical questions,"said Dr. Daniel J. Penny, section head of pediatrics – cardiology at BCM and chief of pediatric cardiology at Texas Children's Hospital, who will serve as co-principal investigator on the grant. "As a core center, we will be given the opportunity to contribute to the design of these important studies."

Dr. Lara Shekerdemian, section head of pediatrics – critical care at BCM and chief of pediatric critical care at Texas Children's, Dr. Dean Andropoulos, professor of pediatrics and of anesthesiology at BCM and chief of pediatric anesthesiology at Texas Children's, and Dr. Charles D. Fraser Jr., professor of surgery and of pediatrics at BCM and surgeon-in-chief and chief of congenital heart surgery at Texas Children's, will also serve as co-principal investigators on the grant.

Bench to bassinet

Penny said BCM and Texas Children's previously have participated in some studies organized by the network's core centers but now will be involved in the development of every study. "This will really enhance our ability to partake in these important studies and advance the field of pediatric cardiovascular care,"said Penny.

"This network has already produced study results that have been published in a number of premier cardiovascular journals, and a lot of these have been translational research or 'bench to bassinet,'"said Penny.

Study long-term impact

He noted that over the last 10 years, there have been dramatic improvements in surgical and therapeutic technology in the field. "A major focus now is to study how these improvements impact long-term neurodevelopment and functional outcomes for these children."

The BCM and Texas Children's site was one of three new centers recently announced to join the network as a core site. There are now a total of nine centers.

Existing sites include the Children's Hospital of Boston; Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston; Prairieland Consortium in Cincinnati (Cincinnati Children's Hospital and Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis); and Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. New centers also include Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Emory University and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.