Richard J. Schanler, M.D.
Dr. Schanlers research focuses on clinical aspects of feeding
premature infants human milk. Current investigations address the
potential protection from infection and necrotizing enterocolitis
afforded by human milk, the effect of stress on lactation performance,
and the growth and body composition of premature infants during
the first few years after hospital discharge.
Robert J. Schwartz, Ph.D.
Dr. Robert Schwartz conducts research focused on defining the molecular
basis underlying the establishment and maintenance of skeletal,
cardiac and smooth muscle differentiation. He has devoted considerable
attention to Nkx2-5, a transcription factor instrumental in the
patterning of the embryonic heart. Dr. Schwartz notes that the heart
appears to develop as a modular organ, such that a distinct transcriptional
regulatory program controls each anatomical region. Consistent with
this notion, the heart tube can be divided into segments that form
the atria, left ventricle, right ventricle, and ventricular outflow
tract. Precursors of these regions of the heart appear to originate
from separate lineages, which develop according to their positions
along the anteroposterior axis of the embryo. Recent studies conducted
by Dr. Schwartz have revealed cis-regulatory elements that direct
cardiac transcription specifically in the left or right ventricular
chambers and atria, and even within subdomains within the chambers.
Whether this regional specificity of transcription is important
for the physiologic and functional differences of the chambers of
the adult heart, and how these transcriptional territories are established
and maintained, are issues of intense interest to Dr. Schwartz.
Partha Sen, Ph.D.
Dr. Partha Sen is the director of the Child Health Research Center
(CHRC) Molecular Core Laboratory. The laboratory provides DNA sequencing
and DNA synthesis services to the CHRC awardees and their mentors
and Baylor faculty at large. Dr. Sen is also involved in research
related to alveolar capillary dysplasia (ACD). This is a genetic
disorder which causes misalignment of lung blood vessels, and is
also characterized by a severe reduction of capillaries in the lungs
of the patient. The relentless course of the disease culminates
in the death of the neonate despite intensive therapy. The inheritance
of the disease is presumed to be autosomal recessive. The study
is being done in collaboration with Dr. C. Langston, Department
of Pathology, Baylor College of Medicine, and Dr. B. Bejjani, Department
of Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine. The primary goal
of the research project is to identify the causative gene for this
J. Shulman, M.D.
Dr. Shulman is investigating the factors regulating the development
of gastrointestinal function in the premature infant. He is interested
particularly in carbohydrate digestion and absorption and the interaction
of carbohydrates with other nutrients both as facilitators and potential
inhibitors of digestion and absorption of other nutrients. The long-term
goal is to understand and, thereby, be able to treat feeding intolerance
in premature infants. These data also can be applied to treat infants
with short bowel syndrome. Most recently, he has been broadening
his research efforts, and has initiated studies to understand the
factors that contribute to health care-seeking behaviors in children
with recurrent abdominal pain.
J. Shypailo, B.S.
The unprecedented growth of technology during the past decade has
created challenges for researchers. Powerful computers and data
acquisition equipment enable rapid accumulation of information that
requires processing. The CNRC Body Composition Laboratory houses
sophisticated instruments designed to measure the elemental composition
of the human body using nuclear-based techniques. Each instrument
is in a dynamic state of evolution. New measurement systems are
being developed, including a multiparameter whole-body counter capable
of isolating and measuring a signal coming from a specific site
in the body, and a portable 40 K counter for use in a hospital setting.
Coordinating these efforts and incorporating new technology are
the primary focus of Mr. Shypailo's work.
C. Wayne Smith, M.D.
Dr. C. Wayne Smith, who is the head of the Leukocyte Biology Section
of the Pediatrics Department as well as a CNRC researcher, has a
multifaceted research focus involving the roles of neutrophils in
host resistance to infection and tissue injury under conditions
of inappropriate inflammation. Dr. Smith is actively involved in
a number of projects with other researchers. He works with Dr. Michele
Mariscalco in a project on neonatal neutrophil function; with Dr.
Mark Entman of Baylors Department of Medicine on neutrophil-mediated
injury to myocardium; with Dr. Christie Ballantyne on the phenotypes
of mice with CD18 subunit deficiency; with Dr. Jim Smolen on the
influence of stress on leukocyte functions; and with Dr. Alan Burns
on the molecular and cellular mechanisms of neutrophil transendothelial
migration. Dr. Smith also is collaborating with Dr. Hartmut Jaeschke
of the University of Arkansas on neutrophil-mediated liver damage.
Further, Dr. Smith is working with CNRC researcher Dr. Harry Mersmann
on the potential role of leukocytes in the development of obesity.
OBrian Smith, Ph.D.
Dr. E. OBrian Smith provides statistical design, analysis,
and teaching support to the USDA/ARS Childrens Nutrition Research
Center, the General Clinical Research Center, the Pediatrics Department,
and Baylor College of Medicine investigators. This support includes
teaching statistical methods, development of grant applications,
the design of research protocols, statistical analysis, interpretation,
and manuscript preparation. His support services range from basic
consultation to extensive involvement in a project.
E. Stuff, Ph.D.
Dr. Stuff's broad area of interest is that of nutritional epidemiology
and the role of nutrition in chronic diseases and public health
problems. A focus area is research on methodologies to assess dietary
intakes in populations. Currently, Dr. Stuff collaborates with the
USDA/ARS Delta Nutrition Intervention Research Initiative. The initial
purpose of this initiative is to measure the nutrition and health
status of individuals and communities in the Lower Mississippi Delta
region. Specifically, Dr. Stuff has helped in efforts to develop
and validate dietary methodology in the Lower Delta, which now will
be applied to assess dietary intakes in cross-sectional and longitudinal
designs. Other interests include the impact of food insecurity on
the nutritional requirements and health status of children; nutritional
interventions for children in high-risk, low-income areas; and the
application of research findings on mineral and caloric requirements
of children to interpreting nationwide nutrition surveys and databases.
L. Sunehag, M.D., Ph.D.
The focus of Dr. Sunehags research is carbohydrate metabolism
in infants and children. In particular, she is interested in the
metabolism of very premature infants during their first days of
life. The aim of her studies is to determine how these infants utilize
their gluconeogenic pathway to produce glucose from parenterally
administered lipid and amino acid solutions. The ultimate goal of
these studies is to optimize the composition of neonatal parenteral
nutrition solutions to prevent both hypo- and hyperglycemia, while
providing a sufficient energy intake for normal growth. Her other
major research interest is to determine the effects of dietary carbohydrate
and fat intakes on parameters of glucose metabolism, particularly
insulin sensitivity, in obese and nonobese children. The aim of
these studies is to determine whether the macronutrient content
of the diet affects the development of insulin resistance and, thus,
the risk of type II diabetes, and whether obese children differ
from nonobese with regard to metabolic adaptation to changes in
dietary carbohydrate and fat content.
Ignatia B. Van den Veyver, M.D.
Rett syndrome is caused by mutations in a gene on the X chromosome
named MECP2. This gene encodes methyl-CpG-binding protein 2, which
is the molecular link between DNA methylation and suppression of
transcription of genes with methylation at their promoters. Based
on the discovery that this mechanism is at the basis of this devastating
neurodevelopmental disorder, Dr. Van den Veyver hypothesizes that
DNA methylation may play a role in the proper downregulation of
certain genes during development. There is some evidence that DNA
methylation can be influenced by methyl donor-enriched diets containing
substances such as folic acid and betaine. Hence, she is investigating
in cultured cells and in laboratory mice whether this treatment
can alter DNA methylation and gene expression. This is not only
important with regard to conditions such as Rett syndrome, but may
also provide a better understanding of the role of such agents in
other prenatal-onset disorders and birth defects, for example, in
the mechanism by which folic acid may prevent neural tube defects.
W. Wong, Ph.D.
Dr. Wongs research focuses on the treatment and prevention
of obesity and chronic diseases. He is currently the principal investigator
of a Texas Department of Health-funded project to determine the
prevalence and risk factors of childhood obesity in Texas. He is
also the principal investigator of a phase 3 clinical trial funded
by Pharmacia & Upjohn to test the safety and efficacy of a new
drug for the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Further, Dr.
Wong is the project director of a USDA-funded, multicenter study
aimed at determining the safety, efficacy, and optimal dosage of
soy isoflavones to prevent osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.
F. Zakeri, Ph.D.
Dr. Zakeris research has focused on the analysis, modeling
and understanding of data consisting of multiple measurements on
each observational unit and data that accrue over time. His current
research interest is Nutrimetrics, which involves the application
of statistical methods to problems in nutrition. The goal is to
advance, develop, and apply more accurate and computationally flexible
statistical techniques to analyze and better understand many complex
problems in nutrition, particularly behavioral nutrition. The research
program involves theoretical studies as well as computational methods
in many branches of statistics, particularly analysis of high-dimensional
and longitudinal data.