Research — Pediatrics

Ana Maria Arbelaez, MD
10th Floor, Northwest Tower
Clinical Research in Diabetes Mellitus.  Clinical research studies on hypoglycemia associated autonomic failure in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus and on cystic fibrosis related diabetes.

Charles E. Canter, MD
8th Floor, Northwest Tower, Division of Cardiology
Single-center and multi-center clinical studies and trials in pediatric cardiomyopathy, heart failure, and heart transplantation.

F. Sessions Cole, MD, and Jennifer Wambach, MD, MS
8th Floor, Northwest Tower and 5th Floor McDonnell Pediatric Research Building
Using candidate gene sequencing, exome sequencing, whole genome sequencing, and computational prediction and filtering strategies for discovery of deleterious variants in population-based cohorts, case-control cohorts, and trios of affected infant and parents, our laboratory focuses on discovering novel candidate genes associated with neonatal respiratory distress syndrome and understanding the contribution of genetic variation in candidate genes of the pulmonary surfactant metabolic pathway (including surfactant protein B, surfactant protein C, NKX2-1, and ABCA3), to risk of neonatal respiratory distress syndrome.

Vikas Dharnidharka, MD, MPH
10th Floor, Northwest Tower
Clinical and translational research in childhood kidney disease.  Our group is involved in several different types of clinical and translational research, including (a) multicenter clinical intervention trials to improve teen adherence with transplant medications and test new medications in children on dialysis; (b) translational biomarker studies in transplant acute and chronic rejection and genomic studies or post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease; (c) large transplant database epidemiological analyses for associations of immunosuppressive regimens with efficacy and morbidity balance.

Allan Doctor, MD
5th Floor, McDonnell Pediatric Research Building
Role of Erythrocytes in Pathologic Vascular Signaling.  We employ several novel experimental platforms to pursue a range of basic, translational, and clinical studies exploring:  (1) the role of erythrocytes in context-responsive metabolism of vasoactive effectors in flowing blood; (2) molecular control of antioxidant defense in erythrocytes; (3) the role of acquired injury to normal erythrocytes in the pathophysiology of acute lung injury and multiple organ failure syndrome; and (4) the impact of genetic abnormalities in erythrocytes upon antioxidant defense and vascular signaling (modeled by sickle cell anemia).  Query is modeled on many levels from isolated proteins – cell culture – isolated organ – whole mouse – to studies in humans.

Todd Druley, MD, PhD
Room 6203, 4444 Forest Park Avenue
Translational genomic research in pediatric oncology. The Druley lab aims to develop novel genomic and computational methodologies for characterizing the functional impact of rare acquired and germline variation on the etiology and outcomes of various pediatric malignancies.

Jennifer Duncan, MD
3rd Floor, McDonnell Pediatric Research Building
Understanding the Transgenerational Impact of Maternal Nutrition.  Our lab uses Drosophila melanogaster as a model system to evaluate the impact of maternal caloric excess on metabolism and mitochondrial function in offspring.  We are currently pursuing epigenetic mechanisms, specifically the role of histone modification, for altering gene expression.  In addition, we are evaluating the molecular mechanisms underlying triglyceride excess in the offspring and are evaluating tissue specific mitochondrial function.  This elective is for students interested in research in any of these areas.

Stephanie A. Fritz, MD, MSCI
Room 10125, Northwest Tower
Our research team studies the epidemiology, microbial virulence mechanisms, and host defenses against community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) colonization, transmission, and disease.  We are investigating the transmission dynamics of CA-MRSA in households and interventions to interrupt the transmission of CA-MRSA and prevent subsequent infections.  Our lab also explores  the microbial and host genomic determinants, as well as the host immune response to staphylococcal toxins implicated in the pathogenesis of CA-MRSA, in patients across a spectrum of disease states. Our goal is to develop novel approaches for the prevention of CA-MRSA infections.

Carmen Halabi, MD, PhD
4th Floor, McDonnell Pediatric Research Building, Room 4107
Extracellular matrix in vascular development and disease: The research in the laboratory focuses on vascular biology. Specifically, we study extracellular matrix proteins that make up the elastic fibers of blood vessels. Elastic fibers convey elasticity to blood vessels allowing large arteries to store energy during systole and release it during diastole. Abnormalities in elastic fiber components lead to various complications including hypertension, stiff vessels, and aneurysms. In the laboratory, we utilize mouse models to understand how abnormalities in these proteins lead to disease, which helps us not only learn about the normal function of these proteins, but also identify potential novel therapeutic targets.

Robert J. Hayashi, MD
Suite 9S, St. Louis Children’s Hospital
Clinical research interests include stem cell transplantation and its complications, including Post Transplant Lymphoproliferative Disease and long-term side effects of therapy.

Keith A. Hruska, MD
5th Floor, McDonnell Pediatric Research Building
The research in the laboratory focuses on chronic kidney disease (CKD) and its complications of the chronic kidney disease mineral bone disorder syndrome that involves skeletal frailty, cardiovascular disease, and vascular calcification.  The lab has discovered important new pathologic mechanisms of disease leading to vascular calcification through systemic effects of factors involved in renal repair, and hyperphosphatemia.  Translational studies that continue to develop new therapeutic approaches are being aggressively pursued.  New therapies for chronic kidney disease, and its complications, are being studied in clinical trials.

Paul Hruz, MD, PhD
3rd Floor, McDonnell Pediatric Research Building
Research interests include structure/function relationships in facilitative glucose transporters, congenital and acquired lipodystrophy syndromes, and insulin resistance associated with HIV protease inhibitor therapy.

David A. Hunstad, MD
Room 6106, McDonnell Pediatric Research Building
Work in our lab focuses on the interactions of pathogenic bacteria with their hosts.  We aim to elucidate the modulation of host immune responses by pathogens and to determine the mechanisms by which these bacteria present specific virulence factors on their surfaces.  Currently, we use cultured bladder epithelial cell models and murine models of cystitis to investigate the ability of uropathogenic Escherichia colito modulate host innate and adaptive immune responses. In addition, we are studying the molecular mechanisms by which selected outer membrane proteins contribute to the virulence of uropathogenic E. coli. Our primary goal is to discover novel targets for interventions that will prevent and better treat bacterial infections of the urinary tract. Along these lines, we are leveraging recent discoveries in UTI pathogenesis to design nanoparticle-based therapies for prevention of acute and recurrent UTI. We have also launched a new translational study of immune responses to UTI in male and female infants, paired with an innovative new mouse model of male UTI that permits first-ever studies of sex differences in these infections.

S. Celeste Morley, MD, PhD
Room 6105, McDonnell Pediatric Research Building
Our laboratory investigates the molecular mechanisms underlying immune cell signaling and trafficking using mouse models.  We hope to identify molecules critical for host defense against infectious organisms such as pneumococcus.  Our focus is currently on an actin-binding protein called L-plastin, which is required for normal T and B cell motility.

Audrey R. Odom, MD, PhD
Room 6108, McDonnell Pediatric Research Building
Antimalarial therapies and diagnostics.  Severe malaria due to infection with Plasmodium falciparum kills nearly a million children annually.  My laboratory uses translational approaches to develop new methods to diagnose and treat malaria.  Projects are available in several research areas, ranging from clinical studies to molecular parasitology approaches in the lab.  We are eager to have students join either our team on campus, where we study parasite metabolism and evaluate new potential therapies, or our team in the field in Malawi, where we are collecting samples for new malaria biomarkers.

Jose A. Pineda, MD
10th Floor, Northwest Tower, Patient Oriented Research Unit
Mechanisms of brain injury in children. Our clinical research efforts focus on investigating the mechanisms and potential new treatments for brain injury, including strategies for implementation of best clinical practices. We utilize high-resolution physiological monitoring, biochemical analysis of clinical samples, and innovative implementation science methodologies.

Alan L. Schwartz, PhD, MD
Suite 3S36, St. Louis Children’s Hospital
Investigative efforts are aimed at understanding: (1) the biology of cell surface receptors, including biochemical and molecular dissection of the mechanisms responsible for receptor-mediated endocytosis of blood coagulation proteins; and (2) the regulation of intracellular protein turnover.

Shalini Shenoy, MD
Suite 9S, St. Louis Children’s Hospital
Investigation of novel reduced intensity transplant strategies for pediatric non-malignant disorders and the immunologic basis of graft versus host disease and graft rejection.

Gregory A. Storch, MD; Kristine Wylie, PhD; Todd Wylie, BS; Richard S. Buller, PhD
Suite 2N52, St. Louis Children’s Hospital
Infectious disease genomics.  Our laboratory is interested in applying genomic analysis to a variety of problems in infectious diseases, mostly related to viral infections.  Recent studies include use of next generation sequencing to define the human virome in immunocompromised children, improved methods for detecting viruses using next generation sequencing, use of next generation sequencing for clinical diagnosis, analysis of the human transcriptome response to acute infections, sequencing of the genome of enterovirus D68 and development of a rapid diagnostic test for that virus.  Students would have the opportunity to learn genomic techniques, including informatics analysis.

Phillip I. Tarr, MD
Room 6103, McDonnell Pediatric Research Building
Research in Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition.  Students have opportunities in broadly encompassing research projects.  Investigators, in the Division, have funded and vibrant projects in liver disease (fatty liver disease, acute liver failure, biliary atresia, liver transplants, cystic fibrosis liver disease), inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis), infections of the gastrointestinal tract (diarrhea), acute liver failure, Hirschsprung Disease, diarrhea, gut microbiome, aflatoxin injury to the liver and stunting, health services research, necrotizing enterocolitis, antibiotic resistant pathogens in the human gut, and quality improvement, particularly related to inflammatory bowel disease management.  Short- and long-term projects can be arranged around these and other related efforts.  The exact nature of the project depends on the time that the student can contribute to the effort, and the availability of any of the Division faculty, who all have established track records as mentors.  Interested students should contact any of our faculty, or Dr. Tarr, to discuss the possibilities.

Neil H. White, MD, CDE
9th Floor, Northwest Tower, St. Louis Children’s Hospital
Our work involves patient-oriented research in the management of diabetes in children.  Arrangements can be made for involvement in, or development of, projects aimed at improving outcome or prevention of diabetes mellitus and its complications.

David B. Wilson, MD, PhD
Room 3102, McDonnell Pediatric Research Building
Research is focused on the molecular switches that regulate control genes during early embryonic development and differentiation.