New Assistant Vice President and Chief Clinical Research Officer: Richard Aplenc, MD, PhD, MSCE

New Assistant Vice President and Chief Clinical Research Officer: Richard Aplenc, MD, PhD, MSCE

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute welcomed Richard Aplenc, MD, PhD, MSCE, as assistant vice president and chief clinical research officer in early 2018. A long-standing member of the CHOP research community, Dr. Aplenc’s work at CHOP began with his Pediatric Hematology Oncology Fellowship in 1997. A faculty member since 2002, Dr. Aplenc currently is a professor of both Pediatrics and Epidemiology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. In his new leadership role, Dr. Aplenc is setting the course for the development and oversight of clinical research operations across CHOP.

Dr. Aplenc’s research is focused on acute myeloid leukemia (AML), chiefly AML therapeutics as well as clinical and genetic epidemiology studies that aim to improve clinical outcomes for pediatric patients. Dr. Aplenc received a Hyundai Quantum Grant from Hyundai Hope on Wheels in 2016 to identify novel cell surface proteins for immunotherapy targeting and is leading a Phase I chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) trial in the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Consortium.

He is also using “big data” to improve the care of children with AML today. These projects use very large data sets to identify patient populations at particular risk for chemotherapy side effects. Dr. Aplenc is interested in understanding the risk factors associated with cardiac complications during and shortly after AML therapy. In addition, he is studying why certain demographic groups of patients seem to be at increased risk of toxicity and death during AML therapy. This work is leading his research group into analyses of patient-reported outcomes and preferences as we seek to understand the experience of patients and families undergoing AML therapy in the United States.

Finally, Dr. Aplenc leads a multi-centered prospective clinical trial evaluating medical and patient-reported outcomes for different hospitalization strategies after AML chemotherapy in children. This work is funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.

His broad research experiences reflect the commitment of all of the investigators at CHOP Research to improve outcomes for pediatric patients, while his immersion in Phase I clinical trials has uniquely prepared Dr. Aplenc to lead his team through the thrilling but sometimes choppy waters of discovery. Whether working to reveal new molecular mechanisms or unraveling the complexities of conducting drug therapy trials, Dr. Aplenc is inspired by families and patients living with life-threatening illness who choose to participate in research to give other children a chance at healthier futures.

Fostering Collaboration With the Ruth M. Colket Endowed Chair in Pediatric Nursing: Martha A. Q. Curley, RN, PhD, FAAN

Fostering Collaboration With the Ruth M. Colket Endowed Chair in Pediatric Nursing: Martha A. Q. Curley, RN, PhD, FAAN

Our nurse scientists offer a unique perspective that strengthens our clinical care practices and improves our pediatric patients’ outcomes. In the interest of continued collaborative nursing research in child health across the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Martha A. Q. Curley, RN, PhD, FAAN was appointed to the Ruth M. Colket Endowed Chair in Pediatric Nursing at CHOP. Dr. Curley holds a joint appointment in Anesthesia and Critical Care Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine.

Dr. Curley’s decades of studies have informed the practice of caring for critically-ill patients with acute respiratory failure, highlighted relationship-based care when partnering with parents of critically-ill children, and supported parent presence during invasive procedures and resuscitation. Among the outcomes of Dr. Curley’s work are the development and dissemination of core metrics in the field of pediatrics such as the State Behavioral Scale (SBS) to assess sedation of infants and children on ventilators, the Withdrawal Assessment Tool (WAT-1) to assess opioid and benzodiazepine withdrawal, Individualized Numeric Rating Scale (INRS) for the assessment of pain levels in children unable to speak, and the Braden QD scale for predicting pressure-related skin injuries in hospitalized children.

Dr. Curley’s impactful research continues with a recent National Institutes of Health grant award for a clinical trial to support best practices in treating children with severe pediatric acute respiratory distress syndrome (PARDS). The 45-site randomized, controlled trial, “PROSpect: Prone and Oscillation Pediatric Clinical Trial,” is expected to provide definitive evidence for a major change in clinical practice for patients with severe PARDS. Dr. Curley is also investigating how nurses can create environments conducive to healing in pediatric intensive care units (ICUs) by embedding elements of the child’s usual activity and modulating both light and noise during patients’ ICU stay.

On the clinical side, Dr. Curley helped to develop the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses Synergy Model for Patient Care, which is now integrated into nursing curricula and the association’s credentialing programs, linking evidence-based clinical practice with patient outcomes.

She encourages the next generation of nurse researchers by involving nursing students in her clinical inquiry activities.

First Associate Vice President and Chief Research Informatics Officer: Jeff Pennington

First Associate Vice President and Chief Research Informatics Officer: Jeff Pennington

Health informatics experts are in the exhilarating position to work at the intersection where copious volumes of data and its applications in pediatric care and research meet. In April 2018, Jeff Pennington became the first Associate Vice President and Chief Research Informatics Officer (CRIO) at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute. In this newly created role, he is an integral member of the CHOP Research Institute Senior Leadership team and will ensure CHOP Research is the industry leader in use of data and technology to solve challenging problems in child health.

As CRIO, Pennington will partner with colleagues across CHOP to launch the exciting Arcus program, a strategic investment in enterprise data, technology, and data science infrastructure that links all of CHOP’s clinical and research data. The program is a key component of the CHOP Research Strategy, enabling next-generation computational biology, machine learning, and translational research.

At its heart, Arcus is a one-of-its-kind library based on all of the data generated at CHOP over the course of patients’ clinical encounters and research study visits to produce a more holistic picture of pediatric health and disease, all while vigorously protecting our patients’ right to privacy. More than a digital catalog, Arcus includes an educational component to help CHOP’s research community become more capable and confident in the use of large, complex data sets.

Previously a leader in the CHOP Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics, Pennington recognizes the remarkable opportunity to deliver breakthrough, compassionate care when supported by a digital health enterprise that has been using a single electronic health record since 2010. This unique ability to leverage CHOP data through Arcus provides opportunities for pediatric medical innovation like nowhere else in the world.

New Chief of Endocrinology and Diabetes: <br />Diva De León-Crutchlow, MD, MSCE

New Chief of Endocrinology and Diabetes:
Diva De León-Crutchlow, MD, MSCE

It requires a unique individual to take the helm of one of the most robust clinical divisions at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and one of the top-ranked pediatric divisions in the nation to boot. The ideal candidate generally possesses a combination of outstanding work as a physician-scientist; exemplary leadership skills; dedication to patients, families, and colleagues; and a commitment to education.

In July 2018, CHOP honored one of its veteran physician-scientists when it appointed Diva De León-Crutchlow, MD, MSCE, as chief of the Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes. In her two decades at Children’s Hospital, Dr. De León-Crutchlow has established an impressive and world-renowned clinical reputation and serves as director of CHOP’s Congenital Hyperinsulinism Center.

As a scientist, Dr. De León-Crutchlow has made significant advances into understanding congenital hyperinsulinism (HI) and monogenic diabetes. Her research focuses on HI pathophysiology, including the identification of a key biological target in HI treatment, glucagon-like-peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1). Her preclinical and clinical work has shown that exendin-(9-39), a compound that inhibits GLP-1 receptor, can prevent low blood sugar in HI. Her combination of clinical expertise and research innovation has led her to make significant strides in improving the health of children and adults with HI and developing novel therapies for the rare genetic condition.

Savvas Andronikou Joins Radiology Department as Vice Chair of Clinical Research

Savvas Andronikou Joins Radiology Department as Vice Chair of Clinical Research

Savvas Andronikou, MBBch (Wits),PhD (UCT), PhD (Wits), FRCR (Lond),FCRad (Diag), joined Children’s Hospital in June as the vice chair of Clinical Research in the Department of Radiology, which has a flourishing research program that uses state-of-the-art technologies to disseminate innovative work in imaging for infants, children, and pregnant women.

In his role as vice chair, Dr. Andronikou helps oversee a growing translational and clinical research program in the department that is broadly related to and impacts nearly every pediatric subspecialty. It includes interventional radiology, cardiovascular, lymphatic imaging, pulmonary imaging, and oncology, among many others.

Dr. Andronikou serves as a critical leader for the department while maintaining his own robust research program. Because of his experience in imaging pediatric pulmonary disorders, he has been tasked to spearhead advanced pulmonary imaging and research in the department, as the director of the section of pulmonary imaging. In addition to earning two PhDs and acquiring extensive experience in both pediatric body imaging and pediatric neuroradiology training, Dr. Andronikou has contributed to more than 270 publications, written six books, and has vast experience in the organization of dedicated pediatric radiology research infrastructure and support.

He works in parallel to Timothy Roberts, PhD, vice chair for Imaging Research and Oberkircher Family Chair in Pediatric Radiology, and aims to create strong and seamless collaborations with PhD scientists in the department. In addition, Dr. Andronikou provides key support for the department’s overall research strategy and has specific responsibility for the newly created Radiology Research Core.