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Home > ARRA Stories > NIH Stimulus Awards to Hopkins Children’s Researchers Exceed $3,000,000
NIH Stimulus Awards to Hopkins Children’s Researchers Exceed $3,000,000

October 5, 2009

Johns Hopkins Children's Center

Hopkins Children's faculty and affiliated researchers have received more than $3,000,000 in federal economic stimulus grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for projects that include everything from research on the molecular biology of Marfan syndrome to support for a Baltimore Diabetes and Research Training Center. The funds are drawn from the $787-billion federal economic stimulus package, the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which includes $100 billion in science and technology spending.

To date, Johns Hopkins University has received 269 Recovery Act-funded grants. At Hopkins Children's, among the recipients of these NIH-awarded grants is Harry "Hal" Dietz, a human geneticist and pediatric cardiologist studying Marfan syndrome. Marfan syndrome is a disorder of the body's connective tissues, associated with skeletal, ocular, and cardiovascular complications including death due to ruptured aortic aneurysms. Dietz was awarded $283,133 in NIH stimulus funding for studies that focus on the use of animal models to identify circulating biomarkers of aortic disease and to map modifying genes that can protect against cardiovascular disease.

Also in pediatric cardiology, Associate Professor Allen Everett received more than $460,000 to study and identify markers of primary pulmonary artery hypertension in children and adults, to help improve outcomes.

In the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Ravit Boger received funding to investigate cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection, which while potentially devastating to newborns when transmitted during pregnancy to the fetus is often asymptomatic in the population. The hope, says Boger, is that a better understanding of the virus's molecular mechanisms will lead to a new strategy for the development of drugs to treat CMV and even a vaccine against the virus.

Additional funding was awarded to Bill Guggino, director of the Cystic Fibrosis Research Development Program at Johns Hopkins and vice chair of Pediatrics, for his 15-year study of the CI- channel and regulatory functions of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene, potentially, he says "to therapeutically alter the switching mechanisms that determine CFTR's fate." And he has received a second grant to study the normal and abnormal regulation of calcium with hopes of finding new ways to treat autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease.

Pediatric nephrologist Susan Furth was granted $329,400 to determine the risk factors for an accelerated decline in renal function in children with chronic kidney disease, as well as related impairments of brain function and cardiovascular disease.

Chief of the Division of Metabolism at Hopkins Children's, Fredric Wondisford received $277,045 in supplemental funding to support the Baltimore Diabetes and Research Training Center. The funding will support purchases of equipment for biomedical cores and provide funding for pilot and feasibility research projects for junior faculty. The center is designed to encourage endocrinology and diabetes research and foster collaboration between investigators at Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland.

Vice Chair of Quality and Safety at Hopkins Children's, Marlene Miller received nearly $800,000 toward improving childhood immunization rates using electronic health records. "Successful completion of this project will inform the National Institutes of Health, providers, patients, payers, policymakers and the public how to maximize the impact of electronic health records to improve immunization rates among school-aged children," she writes.

Two faculty affiliated with Hopkins Children's were awarded nearly $1,000,000 to test interventions that broaden the scope of palliative care to include children and adolescents with chronic diseases. Directed by Gail Geller, professor in the Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics and the Bioethics Institute, and Cynda Rushton, associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics, the School of Nursing and the Bioethics Institute, this project is designed to "improve the quality of care and instill a new vision of hope for children with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and Sickle Cell Disease by integrating the principles and practices of palliative care into the training of the clinicians who care for them," they write. The project includes the creation of "trigger" videos and training programs that will be implemented and evaluated nationally.

This article originally appeared on the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center website. Reposted with permission.

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