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Akron Children's Research Update - Summer 2019

I hope you all are having a fun summer. We at the research institute had a terrific start to the year!

The first annual Research Day was a fantastic success. Our theme was Team Science. The festivities started the evening prior with a preview reception for our donors, board members and the executive leadership team where our scientists, trainees and regional collaborators all had opportunities to discuss their incredible research with our institutional and community leaders. Events continued throughout the next day when our trainees and scientists shared their exciting and impactful research with a large audience of regional students, scientists and community leaders. Our inaugural keynote speaker was Dr. Christopher Forrest from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) who spoke eloquently about the power of collaborative research to answer important care issues affecting the health of our children and their families.  Research Day was exciting and energizing and will lead to several new collaborations. With your help, we will have and even bigger and better Research Day in 2020.

I want to update you on some exciting research occurring at Akron Children’s in collaboration with our regional and national partners. Drs. Murthy and Yu continue to make technological advances that make tissue engineering a novel alternative treatment for babies born with microtia, a congenital malformation of the external ear. Together with KLS Martin Group, Gunze, Ltd., and Kindai University, the team has developed a procedure to fabricate 3D-printed biodegradable scaffolds in the shape of the external ear from novel biomaterials that support the growth of the patient’s cells to form a new external ear. In additional collaboration with researchers at Kent State University, the team has developed imaging techniques that can distinguish new tissue growth from the supporting scaffold. Drs. Murthy and Yu and their collaborators are perfecting their strategies in the mouse model as they start to plan for clinical trials in children.

We are also developing new exciting initiatives to increase participation of our patents and families in research at Akron Children’s.  A key initiative is the expansion of clinical trials across several clinical areas. We are currently working with our clinical leaders and industry sponsors to identify trial opportunities across the organization. We plan to initiate clinical trials in five new clinical areas this year and 10 additional clinical areas next year.  Another exciting initiative is expansion of the biorepository currently housed in Cancer and Blood Disorders.  Our vision is that the future biorepository will facilitate the collection, processing and annotation of patient-derived tissue samples across the institution. These bio specimens will serve to promote discovery and drive translational research between Akron Children’s investigators and regional and national laboratory scientists. A new biorepository manager has been hired and will spearhead expansion efforts over the next several months and years. 

In addition, we are building research capacity in new clinical areas, including otolaryngology (ENT). Dr. Jeyakumar and her faculty are working with the Rebecca D. Considine Research Institute and our regional partners at NEOMED, Kent State University and Case Western Reserve University to build programs of research focused on hearing loss in children. Abnormal hearing in children can be caused by genetic conditions and acquired conditions, such as repeated infections or the use of certain medications that can damage the ear. Problems with hearing are very common and can lead to abnormal speech development, social isolation and cognitive delays. Dr. Jeyakumar and her collaborators are working to better understand the genetic and acquired factors contributing to abnormal hearing in children to better inform interventions designed to improve hearing and mitigate the long term complications of hearing loss in our children.

We at the Rebecca D. Considine Research Institute look forward to our continued partnership with you to increase research opportunities, grow our research programs and enhance research operations at Akron Children's. As key partners, your input is critical for us to provide the best services to all researchers at Akron Children's, whether experienced, new or aspiring. We encourage you to use our concierge service anytime you have questions, need guidance or would like to share your ideas or feedback and be sure to follow @ACHResearch on Twitter to stay up-to-date about our upcoming events, programs and opportunities. We look forward to hearing from you.

Chief Research Officer

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