Building strong academic partnerships is one of the ways Akron Children’s Hospital adds strength and depth to its research organization. Some of the most innovative, productive research often results from gifted clinicians and scientists who share ideas and resources in the pursuit of a common research goal.
In his dual role as a senior scientist with the Rebecca D. Considine Research Institute and professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology at Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), Fayez Safadi, PhD, FASBMR works to leverage the strengths of his roles to build a research community that works to improve patient outcomes in our region and beyond.
How does Akron Children’s and NEOMED collaborate in research? What benefit does this partnership bring?
We collaborate in multiple ways, but when Akron Children’s moved its labs to the NEOMED campus it allowed for even greater opportunities for us to share ideas, resources and knowledge. By combining the strengths of both institutions, physicians and scientists are now working together more efficiently and effectively to understand how pediatric diseases develop and pursue innovative treatments. With Akron Children’s providing the clinical conditions such as samples and patient data and NEOMED offering academic knowledge, technology and access to wet labs, our collective team has all the right tools for meaningful research. Our collaboration is a win-win for Akron Children’s, NEOMED and the children who will benefit from our future discoveries.
What does a senior scientist do at Akron Children’s?
My role is to help build and enhance the research enterprise at Akron Children’s. I work with physicians and physician scientists to understand the pathogenesis of rare diseases and diseases of the musculoskeletal system. I also mentor young physician scientists and scientific staff on becoming well-established, successful and independent scientists.
I am very excited to be part of the Research Institute and working with great colleagues who are as passionate about this work as I am. We are working hard to put Akron Children’s on the map of innovation in pediatric medical research, and it’s an exciting time to be here.
What is your area of interest in research? What are you currently working on?
My area of research is musculoskeletal diseases, regenerative medicine and inflammatory diseases. I’m interested in developing therapeutic strategies for bone regeneration and repair, as well as slowing inflammation for disease such as osteoporosis, arthritis, wound healing and neurodegenerative diseases. My research also focuses on rare skeletal diseases.
A few research projects that highlight how my work at NEOMED and Akron Children’s intersect include collaborations with:
- Dr. Kirsten Kusumi to identify the relationship between kidney stones and bone loss
- Dr. Mark Adamczyk and Dr. Dennis Weiner on the role of hormonal changes and bone development
- Dr. Steven Kuerbitz on chemotherapeutics and osteosarcoma
- Dr. Ananth Murthy on microtia and cartilage tissue engineering
What advice would you give to students or doctors considering a research study?
Sometimes it can be a challenge to find enough time in the day to pursue research, but science has so much to offer; take advantage of it! If you’re truly interested in research, get the right mentor, aim high and do not give up. Working to discover new treatments, therapies and technologies to treat children with no effective treatments or treatment options is challenging, but very rewarding.
Research brings new knowledge, opens new perspectives, furthers innovation and shapes the future of all current medicine. Most medical breakthroughs are focused on adults and then adapted for kids. By getting involved or engaging in pediatric research, it can lead to answers to critical medical questions that specifically help ill children get well and lead happy, healthy lives, which all kids deserve!
What piece of advice did someone give you when you were young that still resonates with you today?
My father always taught me to treat people the way I want to be treated. Additionally, one of my mentors taught me the best and most memorable legacy I can leave behind is to always be a nice person.
Beyond your work in research, what is something people may not know about you?
I was born in Damascus, Syria, the oldest inhabited city in the world. I grew up in Saudi Arabia, received my bachelor’s and doctorate degrees in the United Kingdom and then trained in the U.S., where I’ve been living since 1996. My family and I moved to Ohio in 2011. My wife is a periodontist, and we have 3 children, our daughter (16) and twin boys (10). All of us are bilingual, speaking both English and Arabic. I love music, swimming and eating Mediterranean food, especially when my mom or wife makes it.