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than 28 weeks' gestation age and born at Robert Wood
Johnson University Hospital's NICU, in the study, which is still
under way. Preliminary data show that an elevated nitrite level
in EBC in the first week of life may be a predictor of BPD.
The PCRC has also assisted with another NICU study,
under the direction of neonatologist Surasak Puvabanditsin,
MD, assistant professor of pediatrics. The study is determin-
ing if a drug is effective in the treatment of neonatal candidia-
sis in term and preterm infants. Data from this study are being
presented this fall and have led to dosage recommendations.
Not Just Developing Drugs,
but Screening for Risk
arents who want to know the risk their child faces in the
future for a specific disease also take part in the studies at
PCRC. Lindsay Vastola and her son, Emilio, went for a screen-
ing to track if either had antibodies for type 1 diabetes. "My
brother and sister both have type 1 diabetes," says Ms.
Vastola. "My brother received dual kidney and pancreas
transplants. Not a day went by that I didn't think about how
it wouldn't be uncommon for us to develop the disease."
The test looks at antibodies to determine if a child is at risk
for developing type 1 diabetes. In Emilio's case, both he and
his mother tested negative. The study was through TrialNet--
an outlet that uses clinical trials to examine the prevention and
early treatment of type 1 diabetes, including screening close
blood relatives of people with the disease.
Advocates for Children above All
he PCRC makes it possible for scientist-researchers and
scientist-physicians to rapidly translate a medical discovery
into a drug modality. They even have the potential to unlock
new preventive treatments for childhood diseases. The ground-
breaking work they are doing can ultimately have an impact on
the future of health care for children. "It is a tribute to Dr. Gaur
and her extremely committed group of physicians and staff,"
says Sally Radovick, MD, professor of pediatrics and senior
associate dean for clinical and translational research. "They are
conducting highly rigorous, difficult studies to answer impor-
tant questions about how to treat childhood diseases." Dr.
Radovick also points out that the center is important as a train-
ing ground. "New investigators are being trained here today so
tomorrow they can be part of developing a new cure, a new
drug, or a new therapy," she says.
For Dr. Gaur, it's all about the children. She stresses that pedi-
atricians are advocates for the youngest of patients. Physicians
who specialize in children take on that additional role of advo-
cacy, looking out for children on a larger scale. "We have a role
to play in educating young physicians--to bring them into the
fold and teach them about how we're doing this," says Dr. Gaur.
Because the PCRC is relatively small, there is significant
room to grow compared to other research sites. "What we need
to do is become part of a National Institutes of Health (NIH)
center for clinical and translational research," says Dr. Gaur.
The center is doing industry-funded studies now. But if it were
part of a larger NIH-funded effort, it would be possible to do
many more studies that look at other pathways of treatment.
"Taking a role earlier in the cycle in drug development would
involve us in more groundbreaking studies," she says.
Dr. Gaur believes there are regional connections that also
make greater growth possible in the future. The relationship with
the Child Health Institute of New Jersey positions the center for
success. So much is happening there that dovetails with the stud-
ies at the PCRC. And because Robert Wood Johnson Medical
School is now part of Rutgers, The State University of New
Jersey, and because of the central location of the academic com-
munity, there is a chance for much more collaboration that will
allow the Pediatric Clinic Research Center to have greater reach.
"Exciting research is happening within our walls," says Dr.
Gaur, "but we never lose sight of the reason we're doing it--
to improve the health of children."
Robert Wood Johnson
y brother and sister both have type 1 diabetes," says
Lindsay Vastola, who participated in a study with her
young son, Emilio, at the Pediatric Clinical Research Center,
to determine if they were at risk for developing the disease.