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Children's National News - Winter 2012

Children’s National’s David Wessel Receives American Heart Association’s Meritorious Achievement Award

Children’s National Medical Center is pleased to announce that David L. Wessel, MD, has received the prestigious Meritorious Achievement Award from the American Heart Association (AHA) Council on Cardiovascular Disease of the Young. The award is a national career achievement award recognizing an individual who has made a significant impact in the field of pediatric cardiovascular disease. It was presented at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting in Los Angeles.

Dr. Wessel is Senior Vice President for the Center for Hospital-Based Specialties at Children’s National and  the Ikaria Distinguished Professor of Critical Care Medicine. Dr. Wessel is board certified in four areas: anesthesiology, pediatrics, pediatric cardiology, and pediatric critical care medicine. He helped define and create the field of pediatric cardiac intensive care and has trained many of the leading practitioners in the field today.

 “David has made countless contributions to pediatric medicine, and we’re delighted that he has been recognized for his tireless efforts,” said Kurt D. Newman, MD, President and CEO at Children’s National. “His work, both as a clinician and researcher, has advanced pediatric cardiac critical care and has impacted kids nationally and internationally.”

Dr. Wessel has extensive experience as a clinical researcher, designing, and leading several international, multi-center randomized trials. He currently serves as principal investigator and member of the steering committee for the Collaborative Pediatric Critical Care Research Network sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. He also led the CLARINET study, the largest prospective drug trial ever performed in children with heart disease. His research has led to the development of novel therapies for newborns with congenital heart disease, as well as advances in pulmonary hypertension.

“I’m humbled to be recognized by the American Heart Association and to have my work honored,” said Dr. Wessel. “I hope that my work has helped increase awareness, improved outcomes, and brought hope to the thousands of children with congenital heart disease and their families.”

Dr. Wessel oversees 11 clinical divisions and a team of more than 700 physicians and hospital employees. He was recently honored by the French Society of Pediatric Cardiology in Paris and served as co-chairman of the recent International Symposium of Pulmonary Hypertension and Heart Failure in Children, held in Shanghai, China.

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Roger J. Packer, MD, Honored with the 2012 Child Neurology Society Bernard Sachs Award 

Roger J. Packer, MD, Senior Vice President of the Center for Neurosciences and Behavioral Medicine at Children’s National Medical Center, was honored  by the Child Neurology Society (CNS) with the Bernard Sachs Award, the society’s highest honor. The award recognizes someone of international status who has conducted leading research in neuroscience with relevance to the care of children with neurological disorders.
In accepting the award, Dr. Packer gave the Bernard Sachs Lecture on his work in pediatric brain tumor care during the last two decades, summarizing the challenges that remain, and looking ahead to new advances in neurodevelopment, neuroscience and molecular targeted therapy that promise to dramatically change approaches to care in the near future. He also highlighted his work leading neuro-oncology investigations, illustrating why neurologists should carry a leadership role on these interdisciplinary teams.
“I applaud my colleague and friend for his remarkable work in brain tumor research and in all the neurosciences,” said Kurt D. Newman, MD, President and CEO at Children’s National. “Roger is a national and international treasure who has played an exceptional role in advancing neurological care for children as a clinician, researcher and visionary. We are honored to have him on our team at Children’s National and applaud him along with his colleagues who appropriately are recognizing his contributions at their annual gathering.”
In addition to his role as Senior Vice President of Neurosciences and Behavioral Medicine at Children’s National, Dr. Packer also directs The Brain Tumor Institute and The Gilbert Family Neurofibromatosis Institute. He leads multiple studies on a national and international level for a variety of childhood brain tumors including medulloblastoma, low grade astrocytoma, and brain stem gliomas. Those trials are conducted within the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium and the Children’s Oncology Group, two national organizations with which he plays a significant leadership role. Dr. Packer also researches the effects of treatment on the neurologic and cognitive outcomes of children being treated for cancer, including brain tumors.
“This is the greatest honor that a child neurologist can receive,” said Dr. Packer. “I am humbled by the award and accept it as recognition of the field of neuro-oncology. The work for which I am recognized would not have been possible without the help of collaborators from around the world and my wonderful colleagues at Children’s National.” 
Dr. Packer’s other major research interest is neurofibromatosis. He chairs the only national clinical trials consortium for children with neurofibromatosis and leads investigations of diverse disease manifestations, including neurofibromatosis related gliomas, plexiform neurofibromas, and cognitive deficits.
The Bernard Sachs award and lecture was created by the CNS in honor of Dr. Sachs, whose work as a researcher, clinician, and instructor earned him recognition as one of the country’s leading neurologists. He was the author of several reference, text, and popular books; was the publisher of the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease; and served as president of the American Neurological Association in the late 1890s and again in the 1930s.  He was an instructor at New York Polyclinic Hospital, a consultant to Mount Sinai Hospital, and Manhattan State Hospital.  The condition known as Tay-Sachs is named after him and a colleague who together first described the neurological disorder.

• Center for Neurosciences and Behavioral Medicine
• The Brain Tumor Institute
• The Gilbert Family Neurofibromatosis Institute

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Phillip L. Pearl, MD, Edits Two New Books on Epilepsy

The convergence of research in neurogenetics, metabolism, and imaging has dramatically advanced the diagnoses, treatment, and management of epilepsy. Two new texts one edited and one co-edited by Phillip L. Pearl, MD, Division Chief of Neurology at Children’s National, highlight the need for an updated look at this complex series of conditions.

“Epilepsy is a collection of disorders with seizures as a symptom,” said Dr. Pearl. “Child neurologists and epileptologists recognize that underlying disorders biochemical or structural can in many cases be treated directly, thereby addressing further ‘up stream’ the occurrence and severity of seizures.”

Inherited Metabolic Epilepsies, edited by Dr. Pearl, focuses on a poorly understood group of disorders that can have devastating consequences if unrecognized and not treated promptly. With input from both the genetic-metabolic and epilepsy communities, this text from Demos Medical Publishers provides state-of-the-art guidance for understanding and managing epilepsies based in metabolic disorders, and concludes with a diagnostic and management algorithm for physicians looking for clear direction.

Dr. Pearl also co-edited the recently released Epilepsy in Children and Adolescents, with James Wheless, MD, at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis. This is an up-to-date, comprehensive overview on epidemiology and classification, diagnosis, and treatment of seizures and epilepsy syndromes during childhood and adolescence.
“Together these texts showcase the advances in our understanding of the molecular basis of pediatric neurologic diseases and how these new insights are being translated into novel molecular-based therapeutics,” said Roger J. Packer, MD, Senior Vice President, Center for Neurosciences and Behavioral Medicine, Children’s National.

The Division of Neurology at Children’s National is part of the larger Center for Neuroscience and Behavioral Medicine, which is home to more than 30 pediatric neurosciences specialists, making it one of the largest and most comprehensive centers of its kind in the country.

Related links:
Epilepsy, Neurophysiology, and Critical Care Neurology 
Children’s Research Institute, Center for Neuroscience Research

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Andrea Gropman, MD, Named Division Chief of Neurodevelopmental Disabilities and Neurogenetics

Children’s National Medical Center has named Andrea Gropman, MD, as Chief of Neurodevelopmental Disabilities and Neurogenetics, a division created to reflect advances in genetics research and its translational applications to patient care in neurological injury and disorders, including developmental delays.

“The advances in understanding and treatment made possible by sophisticated imaging and discoveries at the molecular level of neurodevelopment have fundamentally altered what we can offer patients and families in the way of assessment and care,” said Dr. Gropman. “At Children’s National we can personalize care based on genetic sequencing and tracking specific bio markers with which we can determine optimum therapies, verified in many cases with fine-tuned imaging. We also can offer access to a significant number of clinical trials by virtue of the role we play in many of the national research consortia in the neurosciences.”

The new division includes the Neurogenetics Program and the Developmental Pediatrics Program. Dr. Gropman is part of the Children’s National Center for Neuroscience and Behavioral Medicine, one of the largest teams in the country, with a comprehensive range of programs and services to meet the needs of patients and families in the mid-Atlantic region and beyond. Additionally, she is a Principal Investigator with the Children’s Research Institute’s Center for Neuroscience Research.

“Dr. Gropman has been a tremendous member of our team,” said Roger J. Packer, MD, Senior Vice President, Center for Neuroscience and Behavioral Medicine. “This appointment synthesizes important clinical and research capabilities to improve how we serve patients and families who come to us from across the region and around the world for sophisticated diagnosis, treatment, and management of conditions and injuries that impact the mind and brain.”

A highly regarded researcher, Dr. Gropman’s current work is focused on establishing biomarkers of neurological injury and developmental delay in inborn errors of metabolism using specialized neuroimaging modalities, all to better characterize injury and delay, and to apply and then follow the efficacy of novel therapeutics. 

Before joining Children’s National, Dr. Gropman was a senior staff fellow in the Intramural Research Program at the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where her research focused on the genetic pathways involved in neuronal migration disorders and on neurologic phenotypes in neurometabolic and genetic disorders.  She continues to work with the National Human Genome Research Institute as a member of the pediatric undiagnosed disorders team.

In addition to her assignment with Children’s National, Dr. Gropman is an Associate Professor of Neurology and of Pediatrics at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. She also has a staff appointment at the Clinical Center at the NIH.

• Learn more about the Neurogenetics Program
• More information on the Developmental Pediatrics Program at Children’s National.
• Children’s Research Institute, Center for Neuroscience Research

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Alumni Spotlight: Roderick Kenneth King, MD, MPH

Children’s National alum, Roderick Kenneth King, MD, MPH has become the new executive director of the Florida Public Health Institute, replacing Claude Earl Fox, MD, MPH. Dr. King began his residency training at Children’s National in July 1992 and completed it in June of 1995.

The Florida Public Health Institute, founded in 2006, is a non-profit healthcare policy organization that acts as a collaborator with state and local health departments, private business, communities and universities to be a vehicle to improve the health of Floridians.  Under the leadership of Fox, FPHI’s founding director, the institute has grown to include five Centers of Excellence in the areas of workforce development; bio-preparedness and health-system readiness; primary care and prevention; research, education and training; and environmental sustainability and safe water.

FPHI’s work in the area of oral health access has gained national attention over the past year. Most recently FPHI launched its Health Policy Bureau, which promises to serve as a state think-tank for healthcare issues facing state policymakers.

“Promoting policies that focus on prevention and access to primary care not only helps people lead more productive and less dependent lives, it promotes job creation in the healthcare field.  Focusing on primary care and prevention reduces the incredible “back-end” costs we are seeing from over utilization of emergency rooms for primary care and the rapidly rising rates of chronic disease,” Dr. King said.

In announcing his successor, Dr. Fox said Dr. King’s academic and professional background make him the perfect candidate for the challenges ahead. His work leverages coalition building and leadership development to address health disparities and the social determinants of health and well-being of children and families, both domestically and internationally.

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Ethosuximide, valproic acid, and lamotrigine in childhood absence epilepsy: Initial monotherapy outcomes at 12 months.
Glauser TA, Cnaan A, Shinnar S, Hirtz DG, Dlugos D, Masur D, Clark PO, Adamson PC; for the Childhood Absence Epilepsy Study Team.
Epilepsia. 2012 Nov 21. doi: 10.1111/epi.12028. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 23167925 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Metabolic and mitochondrial effects of antiretroviral drug exposure in pregnancy and postpartum: Implications for fetal and future health.
Kirmse B, Baumgart S, Rakhmanina N.
Semin Fetal Neonatal Med. 2012 Nov 16. doi:pii: S1744-165X(12)00124-2. 10.1016/j.siny.2012.10.005. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 23164810 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Symptomatology of autism spectrum disorder in a population with neurofibromatosis type 1.
Walsh KS, Vélez JI, Kardel PG, Imas DM, Muenke M, Packer RJ, Castellanos FX, Acosta MT.
Dev Med Child Neurol. 2012 Nov 16. doi: 10.1111/dmcn.12038. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID:23163951 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

National trends in incidence rates of hospitalization for stroke in children with sickle cell disease.
McCavit TL, Xuan L, Zhang S, Flores G, Quinn CT.
Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2012 Nov 14. doi: 10.1002/pbc.24392. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 23151905  [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Urea cycle defects and hyperammonemia: effects on functional imaging.
Gropman AL, Prust M, Breeden A, Fricke S, Vanmeter J.
Metab Brain Dis. 2012 Nov 13. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 23149878 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Novel approaches to corticosteroid treatment in duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Hoffman EP, Reeves E, Damsker J, Nagaraju K, McCall JM, Connor EM, Bushby K.
Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am. 2012 Nov;23(4):821-8. doi: 10.1016/j.pmr.2012.08.003.
PMID: 23137739 [PubMed - in process]

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