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Education Programs in Pediatrics: Medical Student & Residency

Pediatric Resident Research

All pediatric residents participate in one or more research / quality improvement projects with faculty prior to graduation. Residents benefit from mentorship from a variety of areas to complete their projects. In addition to their quality improvement work, residents undertake other research projects, ranging from case reports to education. From 2020 to 2021, 16 resident abstracts were selected for presentation as posters or platform presentations at regional and national meetings.

Rohan Akhouri, MD, MPH was selected for the AMSPDC 2020 Frontiers in Science Symposium.

Richard Johnson, MD and Laura Mejia-Connolly, DO were selected for the AMSPDC 2021 Frontiers in Science Symposium.

Student Research

Students have many opportunities to participate in research in the Department of Pediatrics. Our student research advisor, Manika Suryadevara, MD works with students to help identify appropriate research mentors in the department of pediatrics. Financial support is available.

Child Abuse Pediatrics

This past year, the Division participated in a research pilot study on Saliva microRNA signatures in children with moderate-to-severe brain injury in collaboration with investigators at Penn State University, the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, and the Upstate Departments of Surgery and Neurosurgery.

Fellows: Dr. Ashraf completed her quality improvement study on follow up skeletal surveys and has a manuscript in preparation. Drs. Ashraf, Botash, and Pekarsky, and several collaborators updated the online CHAMP Skeletal Survey recommendations. Dr. Ross is interested in factors impacting the length of hospital stay in abused children and has implemented a study. She is seeking funding to support scene investigation for investigative agencies in cases of suspected maltreatment.

Dr. Pekarsky was selected for, and is serving as a guest editor for a special edition of The Quarterly, a journal of reviews for recent peer-reviewed medical literature on the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect. Dr. Pekarsky was the site Principal Investigator for a research network [Examining Siblings to Recognize Abuse (ExSTRA) investigators] that continues to publish manuscripts. She has been a contributor for two peer-reviewed articles.

Dr. Botash is developing new CHAMP material to address racism and bias in child abuse investigations, management and treatment and co-authored a Pediatrics publication on this topic.

Pediatric Critical Care

Pediatric critical care team members are integrated into research, quality and safety advances at Upstate. These include presentations at local, regional, and national meetings in simulation-based education, residency skills development, multi-modal analgesia for pediatric burn patients, improving the rapid response team, prevention of unintended extubations, and multicenter research publications in Pediatric Critical Care, Rheumatology, and the Journal of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine.

We are active members of Children’s Hospital Association multicenter groups for Improving Pediatric Sepsis Group Outcomes (IPSO) and the Solutions for Patient Safety (SPS) quality bundles. We have had zero central line-associated blood infections, zero catheter associated urinary tract infections, zero pressure injuries, and zero unintended extubations for over one year, four remarkable achievements.

Pediatric critical care team members are leading four quality improvement initiatives: (1) a bedside rounding tool to review safety, quality checks, and patient goals; (2) Finger Lakes Donor Regional Network-PICU Collaborative to achieve targeted quality metrics and improve patient-centric end-oflife care; (3) improving the pediatric rapid response team performance; (4) Pediatric ICU Liberation initiative to improve awareness, education, and implementation of a pediatric early mobility program, withdrawal assessment and delirium screening, and the creation of EPIC-templates for the liberation components and extubation practices.

Developmental, Behavior & Genetics

Drs. Roane and Sullivan have long-standing interesting in developing novel behavioral interventions for children with co-morbid autism spectrum disorders and behavior problems. Dr. Roane is part of a multi-center program sponsored by Autism Speaks developing randomized clinical trials for treatment challenging behavior among individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Dr. Roane also receives clinical funding from Autism Speaks to participate in research through Quadrant Biosciences.

Dr. Dosa has an interest in the development and evaluation of community-based models for developmental disability care. Dr. Dosa was honored with the 2016 ARISE Foundation Champion of Independence Award for her extraordinary efforts to expand opportunities for people who have disabilities, including her work in connection with the transition to adulthood and inclusive fitness across the lifespan. In addition, Dr. Dosa is part of a multi-center study to evaluate the care of individuals with spina bifida.

Dr. DeRosa is in the final year of her NIH-funded project teaching communication variability to individuals with autism spectrum disorder.

Pediatric Clinical Genetics

Dr. Pellegrino is the director of the Inherited Metabolic Diseases Specialty Center and is involved in several disease registries that look at the long-term outcome of individuals with metabolic disorders. She has published articles relating to inborn errors of metabolism.

Dr. Lebel has published numerous articles describing new genetic disorders and expanding the phenotype of known disorders.

Pediatric Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism

Dr. Izquierdo’s research interests lie in type 1 and 2 diabetes mellitus, and thyroid nodular disease and cancer. Dr. Hansen has conducted clinical trials that involve automated insulin pump systems. Dr. Mojica participates in a study to identify siblings of patients with type 1 diabetes who are at risk for developing type 1 diabetes.

Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition

The Upstate Golisano Children’s Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program has generated a number of research studies. The Protect Trial was a NIH-sponsored multicenter study examining the diagnosis and management of Ulcerative Colitis in children. Along with our participation in the ImproveCareNow collaborative, we were invited and are actively participating in a national study, the Clinical Outcomes of Methotrexate Binary Therapy in Practice (COMBINE) trial. The division is also working with six pediatric IBD centers in a study led by Dr. Harland Winter at Mass General Hospital on the Detection of Serum Protein Biomarkers to Predict and Monitor Response to Infliximab Using SOMAscan. This year we will also begin participation in a clinical trial from Takeda pharmaceuticals for the use of Vedolizumab in Children with Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis.

Dr. Imdad has a particular interest in research involving global health and has multiple publications in quality peer-reviewed journals. Over the past two years, he has produced eight manuscripts which include our medical students to expand their experience in evidence synthesis. He received a grant from World Health Organization (WHO) to help develop feeding guidelines for infants and young children. He is currently developing research projects pertaining to pediatric aerodigestive health with our other subspecialty colleagues. 

General Pediatrics

Division Faculty participate in various research projects in the areas of Global Health; Lead Poisoning; Vaccine Development; Mental Health and Child Development.

Pediatric Hematology/Oncology

All of the clinical pediatric oncologists participate in clinical trials with the COG and regularly enroll patients in these international clinical trials.

Dr. Melanie Comito, as the division chief, brings expertise in pediatric neuro-oncology and pediatric stem cell transplant therapies, as well as work in post-graduate education in pediatric hematology/ oncology. She has participated in collaborative efforts in innovative therapies for infants with malignant brain tumors as well as studies in diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas. Under her direction, the division has focused on quality projects and has established additional programs in Vascular Anomalies and Cancer Predisposition Programs. She was instrumental in establishing the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Thruway Network which is a multi-institutional collaboration among the 4 upstate pediatric hematology/oncology. This network has held annual meetings starting in 2017 and has completed several joint projects.

Dr. Philip Monteleone has been a pediatric hematology/oncology physician for over 30 years. His main interests include running the COG research studies in children with cancer. He also has specific interests in children with leukemia or lymphoma and teenagers with cancer. He also has an interest in childhood vascular anomalies and has developed a multidisciplinary team and program for our center.

Dr. Irene Cherrick is board certified in Hospice and Palliative Care in addition to Pediatric Hematology/Oncology. Her interests span the two fields including supportive care for the pediatric oncology patient (management of pain as well as nausea/vomiting). She leads the CHOICES Pediatric Palliative Care team with particular interest in perinatal palliative care, particularly of genetic disorders such as Trisomy 18/13 as well as symptom management and care for the child with severe neurological impairment. She is actively involved in quality improvement studies within each of these fields.

Dr. Amy Caruso Brown’s interests include all aspects of pediatric ethics, decision-making, and health equity as well as the provision of pediatric hematology/oncology and pediatric palliative care in resource-limited settings. She is also the Interim Chair of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities and the co-director of the health systems science curriculum for students in the MD program. Her research interests include understanding the role of faith and culture in treatment disagreements and the impact of social media on trust and the family-provider relationship.

Dr. Jody Sima has expertise in pediatric solid tumor multidisciplinary management. As director of the Survivor Wellness Clinic, she has a special focus on cancer survivorship and long-term complications of cancer treatment. Dr. Sima also works with a specialized team working to improve fertility options after cancer treatment.

Dr. Gloria Kennedy’s interests include brain tumors especially those occurring in children with NF1 and Tuberous Sclerosis. She is director of the Dubowy Brain Tumor Center for survivors of Pediatric brain tumors. She is training in genetic cancer risk assessment with the City of Hope and plans for a pediatric center for diagnosis and surveillance of children with familial cancer syndromes.

Dr. Andrea Dvorak has special interests in Bleeding Disorders, Thrombosis, Hematologic Malignancies, and Vascular Anomalies. As the Director for the Pediatric Bleeding Disorder Clinic she participates in research through the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Public Health Surveillance for Bleeding Disorders project and with the American Thrombosis and Hemostasis Network.

Dr. Jill Majeski is a pediatric psychologist focused on providing psychological services with pediatric sickle cell disease and pediatric palliative care populations. Her primary interests are in optimizing quality-of-life for children living with serious and complex medical conditions, communication in the healthcare setting, medical decision-making, and psychosocial program development. She has held leadership positions with the Society of Pediatric Psychology with goals of further developing formal education and training opportunities for pediatric psychologists interested in specializing in pediatric palliative care.

Dr. Kathryn Scott’s interests are in pediatric hematology and education. She is the Medical Director of our Comprehensive Pediatric Sickle Cell Program. She runs our chronic transfusion/iron chelation program and has interests in bone marrow failure syndromes, thrombosis, and other benign hematologic disorders. Her interests in Thalassemia care has led to participation in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Thalassemia Group.

Pediatric Hospital Medicine

Hospital Medicine Faculty participate in various research projects. Members of our division participate in the multicenter study for Eliminating Monitor Overuse (EMO) Hybrid Effectiveness De-Implementation Trial.

Dr. Melissa Schafer is involved in multiple QI research projects and presentations, including projects that improve pediatric sepsis outcomes, influenza hesitancy, bronchiolitis management, and education around QI. See more in the Quality and Safety section.

Pediatric Immunology & Infectious Diseases

A major effort of the infectious disease physicians is direction and participation in multi-center, national and international clinical trials to evaluate the safety and efficacy of new pharmacologic agents and vaccines for children and adolescents. Specifically, Dr. Leonard Weiner currently supervises protocols to evaluate novel antiviral therapies and multiple clinical vaccine trials.

Dr. Joseph Domachowske’s clinical research interests focus on the epidemiology, prevention and clinical manifestations of viral infections. Dr. Domachowske is the Director, Maternal-Child Pediatric Health for the institution’s Global Health Program.

Dr. Jana Shaw’s clinical research interests focus on epidemiology, infection control, and vaccine policy. She has also undertaken studies aimed at elucidating the causes of vaccine refusal among various populations and to describe the epidemiology of vaccine hesitancy in the US.

Dr. Manika Suryadevara’s research interests include the study of vaccine preventable diseases, increasing vaccination rates by both improving access to vaccine and understanding and intervening with parental and provider vaccine hesitancy. She is also involved in clinical vaccine trials.

Pediatric Nephrology

Dr. Heather Wasik’s focus has been on using large databases to ask and answer questions related to End Stage Kidney Disease Care. This has included retrospective cohort studies using the North American Pediatric Renal Trials and Collaborative Studies database to evaluate dialysis and transplant outcomes in children with end stage kidney disease due to lupus nephritis and analysis of hospitalization costs of hemodialysis catheter-associated blood stream infections in children by using data from the Standardizing Care to Improve Outcomes in Pediatric ESRD (SCOPE) Collaborative and the Pediatric Health Information System databases.

Pediatric Pulmonary, Asthma & Sleep Medicine

The Division is active in quality improvement.

Current projects:

  • Improving adherence to therapies by application of comprehensive medications management program
  • Early detection and monitoring of CF related liver disease by applying the Stanford Algorithm
  • Pre-Visits Comprehensive Evaluations for children with CF

Current CFF TDN therapeutic studies at our Center, Dr Fortner is the PI

  • VX20-121-103: A Phase 3, Randomized, Double-blind, Controlled Study Evaluating the Efficacy and Safety of VX-121 Combination Therapy in Subjects with Cystic Fibrosis Who Are Homozygous for F508del, Heterozygous for F508del and a Gating (F/G) or Residual Function (F/RF) Mutation, or Have At Least1 Other Triple Combination Responsive CFTR Mutation and No F508del Mutation
  • BEGIN-OB-19: A Prospective Study to Evaluate Biological and Clinical Effects of Significantly Corrected CFTR Function in Infants and Young Children

Pediatric Rheumatology and Integrative Medicine

The Pediatric Rheumatology Clinic was accepted in 2012 as a “small site” member of the CARRA, which is a national collaborative research group. The division continues to participate in quality improvement projects regularly.

In 2021, the IRB approved two projects that are part of a multidisciplinary collaboration that the in which division is actively participating. One is Cytokine Profiling of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C); the other is a IS-C Collaborative quality project.

Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine

Dr. Margaret Turk has been committed to research and education related to the health and wellness of people with disability. With the Disability & Health Research Team, educational tools to integrate disability into medical school curriculum, along with evaluation tools to assure enduring knowledge (https://www.upstate.edu/pmr/education/toolkit/index.php) have been developed and are continually updated. Recent research interests have been analysis of COVID-19 data related to disparate outcomes for people with disability, particularly people with intellectual and developmental disability, and cause of death differences and disparities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Dr. Turk serves on the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), National Institutes of Health (NIH) Rehabilitation Common Data Elements (CDE) Working Group (Infant Pediatrics Subgroup), to determine recommended and/or required data elements for use in rehabilitation research.

Neonatology: Crouse Hospital

The neonatologists are actively involved in clinical research. We were the sole RPC funded to establish and implement the NY State data base used throughout the state of New York. We were one of 8 RPCs funded by NY State to establish the universal Hearing Screening Program for NY State. This program is now used throughout all birthing hospitals in New York. We participate in the Vermont Oxford Network and have utilized the data to institute QI initiatives such as intraventricular hemorrhage prevention bundle.

The senior neonatologists (Drs. Steven Gross and Ellen Bifano) are members of the Society of Pediatric Research and have chaired sessions at the annual PAS meetings. They both regularly review for multiple journals including the New England Journal of Medicine, Pediatrics, and Journal of Pediatrics. Research interests in the division center around infant nutrition, management of chronic lung disease, and developmental follow-up.

Recent peer review publications for the division are cited below:

Murthy S, Parker PR, and Gross SJ. Low rate of necrotizing enterocolitis in extremely low birth weight infants using a hospital based preterm milk bank. J. Perinatol 39:108-14, 2019

Marr BL, Mettelman B, Bode MM and Gross SJ. Randomized trial of 42 day vs 9 day courses of dexamethasone for the treatment of evolving bronchiopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) in extremely preterm infants. J Pediatr 211:20-6, 2019

Nelson MU, Shaw J, Gross SJ. Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial of Topical Mupirocin to Reduce Staphylococcus aureus Colonization in Infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. J Pediatr 2021 Sep; 236:70-77.