May 2022
Have an update to share? Research news, milestones, funding announcements, events and deadlines can be submitted via the Research Communications request form. In addition to the monthly newsletter, Manne Research Institute distributes a bi-weekly "Events and Deadlines" email featuring upcoming events, including virtual and in-person educational opportunities, and relevant research deadlines. All previous updates can be found in the Research Communications archive.
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Three Out of Every Four Chicago Parents Worried About Effect of Climate Change on Their Families
Chicago parents view climate change not only as a global crisis, but as a very real problem at home that can threaten their children’s health. In the first known study of Chicago parents’ concerns about the impact of climate change on their families, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago identified significant levels of worry.
The latest survey from the hospital’s Voices of Child Health in Chicago found:

  • Nearly 75 percent of Chicago parents were “somewhat concerned” or “very concerned” about climate change affecting their families
  • More than two-thirds of parents worry about climate change in general
  • Parents who said they understood the issue of climate change had higher levels of concern.
Chicago’s weather patterns and water levels in Lake Michigan are influenced by climate change and have the potential to affect more than 1 million children and youth. Rising temperatures and decreased air quality affect young people by increasing risks of asthma and allergies. These conditions also make playing outside potentially dangerous for young people with respiratory difficulties, limiting exercise and ability to breathe fresh, clean air. In turn, this can contribute to higher levels of obesity among children. There is also evidence that climate change negatively affects newborns’ health, creates food insecurity when healthy food supplies are interrupted, and can contribute to worsening mental health among youth.

“Young people are living with climate-related changes in the atmosphere at a time when their organs and immune systems are developing. Based on what is known about the importance of child health for patterns of health and illness throughout life, these climate-related effects may stay with them as they grow into adulthood,” said Matthew M. Davis, MD, MAPP, Chair of the Department of Medicine at Lurie Children’s, Executive Vice-President and Chief Community Health Transformation Officer at the Patrick M. Magoon Institute for Healthy Communities at Lurie Children’s, and Chair of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Youth Development Program Helps Kids Get Out of Poverty in Adulthood
Study measured outcomes after 33-year follow-up with program alumni
A free youth development program serving Black children and teens living in a low-income segregated community demonstrated positive long-term educational and financial outcomes in its alumni, according to a study from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago published in the journal BMC Public Health.

A 33-year follow-up revealed that alumni graduated from college at twice the rate of their peers who did not participate in the youth development program. For each year of program enrollment, alumni were 10 percent more likely to complete college. Alumni also were more likely to save money at the end of the month and to report a better standard of living than their parents.

“Our study shows that a relatively simple intervention can interrupt the cycle of generational poverty, especially when youth spend years in the program,” said lead author Karen Sheehan, MD, MPH, Medical Director of Patrick M. Magoon Institute for Healthy Communities at Lurie Children’s and Professor of Pediatrics, Medical Education, and Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Sheehan also is the former Board President of the Chicago Youth Programs and the Medical Director of the clinic associated with it.

Dr. Sheehan co-founded the Cabrini Green Youth Program with Joseph DiCara, MD, a hospitalist at Lurie Children’s and the senior author on the study, when both were medical students. Since then, what is now called Chicago Youth Programs, has grown into an organization serving youth and families in at least 30 of the city’s 50 wards. Read more here.
COVID-19 Vaccine Protects Kids and Teens from Severe Illness
Study evaluated Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine effectiveness during the Delta and Omicron periods in children 518 years of age
Results of a new multicenter study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that vaccination with a primary series of the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 vaccine reduced the risk of COVID-19-associated hospitalizations in children ages 5–11 years by two-thirds during the Omicron period. Among adolescents ages 12–18 years who were vaccinated with a primary series of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, protection against COVID-19-associated hospitalization during the Omicron period was lower than during the Delta period, similar to what has been previously shown among adults. Levels of protection against critical COVID-19 requiring life-supporting interventions remained high in vaccinated adolescents during both the Delta and the Omicron periods.

“Our study results are reassuring that COVID-19 vaccination in eligible children and adolescents continues to protect against the most severe outcomes associated with COVID-19, regardless of variant type,” said study co-author Bria Coates, MD, critical care physician at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “It is difficult to predict whether the vaccine will be as effective against the current subvariant of Omicron, but most likely the level of protection would be similar. Our results reinforce the importance of COVID-19 vaccination, including receiving a booster dose for those ages 12 years and older, to protect against critical illness.”

During the Omicron period (December 19, 2021–February 17, 2022), vaccination reduced the risk of COVID-19-associated hospitalization by 68 percent in children ages 5–11 years. Vaccine effectiveness against any type of COVID-19-associated hospitalization in adolescents ages 12–18 years who received a primary series declined from 92 percent during the Delta (July 1, 2021–December 18, 2021) period to 40 percent during the Omicron period. Protection against COVID-19 requiring life-supporting interventions remained high for adolescents during Delta (96 percent) and Omicron (79 percent).

Due to the low numbers of hospitalized children ages 5–11 years in the study, researchers could not analyze vaccine effectiveness by disease severity for this age group but will continue to monitor as these data are collected. Data in this age group was not available for the Delta period, since younger children were not eligible for the vaccine at that time.

Protection against hospitalization in adolescents during the Delta period remained consistent for more than 6 months after receipt of a primary series. Levels of protection during Omicron, although lower, also stayed consistent over time after completing the primary series.

“This consistency in vaccine effectiveness during each variant suggests that the decline in protection among adolescents between the Delta and Omicron periods might be because the Omicron variant is more likely to escape control by the immune system, rather than waning immunity since vaccination,” said Dr. Coates, who also is the Crown Family Research Scholar in Developmental Biology. “However, more data are needed to answer this question.”

The study was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Pediatric research at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago is conducted through Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute. Manne Research Institute is focused on improving child health, transforming pediatric medicine, and ensuring healthier futures through the relentless pursuit of knowledge. Lurie Children’s is ranked as one of the nation’s top children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. It is the pediatric training ground for Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Research Brief: Study Offers Insights into Predicting Kidney Outcomes in Childhood-onset Lupus Nephritis  
Kidney involvement by lupus nephritis (LN) is one of the most severe clinical manifestations in childhood-onset systemic lupus erythematosus (cSLE) and is associated with higher morbidity and mortality rates. LN is often more severe in pediatric populations, particularly among the Asian, African American, and Hispanic populations. Studies on childhood-onset LN are required to detect new prognostic markers, generate evidence-based definitions for classification and outcomes, and define therapeutic interventions, which are understudied in the pediatric population. Studies investigating adult-onset systemic lupus erythematosus (aSLE) have shown that the enumeration of crescentic disease is strongly correlated with kidney outcomes; however, this was not well researched in cSLE, according to the authors of a new study published in Pediatric Nephrology. To address this, the researchers designed a study to develop and evaluate unique thresholds that were more predictive of kidney outcomes in childhood-onset LN. Specifically, they evaluated the use of the 2018 revised ISN/RPS Classification System, which established definitions and set thresholds for pathologic lesions—in particular cellular, fibrocellular, and fibrous crescents—in children with LN.

Pooja Patel, DO, Attending Physician of Rheumatology with Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Instructor of Pediatrics (Rheumatology) with Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, was part of the team of researchers from several U.S.-based hospitals and research institutions. Pediatric research at Lurie Children’s is conducted through Stanley Manne Children's Research Institute.

Key Takeaways 
  • The researchers found that lower thresholds for cellular crescents better reflect kidney disease activity and lower thresholds for fibrous crescents better discriminate kidney disease outcomes in childhood-onset LN when compared to adult-onset LN. 
  • The study confirms that the activity index is a measure of severity of the illness at biopsy, which helps guide the intensity of induction immunosuppression and intervals for disease monitoring, and that the chronicity index is a better measure of kidney disease outcome and helps counsel patients on expectations of treatment. 
  • There were disparate results regarding risk of kidney failure in cSLE versus aSLE. 

The researchers report there is a need for the inclusion of a pediatric arm for any future studies intended to generate evidence-based definitions for classification and outcomes in LN. Future research will aim to develop an international validation study in the pediatric population and include molecular and morphometric biomarkers.

Article Citation 
Patel P, de Guzman M, Hicks MJ, Maliakkal JG, Rheault MN, Selewski DT, Twombley K, Misurac JM, Tran CL, Constantinescu AR, Onder AM, Seamon M, Seeherunvong W, Singh V, Pan C, Okamura DM, Omoloja A, Kallash M, Smoyer WE, Hidalgo G, Wenderfer SE. Utility of the 2018 revised ISN/RPS thresholds for glomerular crescents in childhood‑onset lupus nephritis: a Pediatric Nephrology Research Consortium study. Pediatric Nephrology. 2022 March 28 (Epub ahead of print). doi: 10.1007/s00467-022-05524-2
New Insights into How a Deadly Intestinal Disease in Preemies Develops
Findings may lead to novel treatments for necrotizing enterocolitis
A recent study from Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago sheds light on what predisposes premature infants to necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a deadly intestinal disease. Currently, there are no targeted treatments for NEC because the causes are not well understood. The study identifies key players in the disease development, which offers promise for novel treatments. Findings were published in the journal Communications Biology.

Building on their previous work, which found that decreased development of tiny blood vessels in the intestines contributes to NEC, researchers demonstrate in the current study that macrophages, which are a type of white blood cells and part of the innate immune system, play a critical role in this process. They also show that a growth hormone called insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), which macrophages produce, stimulates microvascular development in the intestine.

In a mouse model, they found that macrophages and IGF-1 are significantly reduced in the perinatal intestine prior to NEC development. When mice were treated with IGF-1, their intestines grew more blood vessels and were less susceptible to NEC.

“Blood vessel growth in the neonatal intestine is critical to provide sufficient oxygen and nutrients to intestinal cells, and defective vascular development increases susceptibility to NEC. We identified IGF-1 as a novel mechanism by which macrophages promote intestinal microvasculature development in neonatal mice that protects against NEC,” said senior author Isabelle De Plaen, MD, a neonatologist and researcher at Lurie Children’s and Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “We then confirmed the relevance of our findings in human NEC. These new insights open the door to developing novel treatment approaches that could help preserve intestinal embryonic macrophage IGF-1 production to promote healthy intestine development in premature infants.”

Pediatric research at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago is conducted through Manne Research Institute, which is focused on improving child health, transforming pediatric medicine, and ensuring healthier futures through the relentless pursuit of knowledge. Lurie Children’s is ranked as one of the nation’s top children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. It is the pediatric training ground for Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Xiao-Di Tan Receives NIH R01 Grant Award 
Xiao-Di Tan, MD, Director of the Center for Intestinal and Liver Inflammation Research and Dorothy M. and Edward E. Burwell Board Designated Professorship in Immunobiology with Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, received an R01 grant award from the National Institutes of Health—The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The $2.55 million award will fund the study, “Insights into a Multi-hit Process in the Development of Necrotizing Enterocolitis,” which will address fundamental questions about why and how necrotizing enterocolitis occurs in premature babies. The knowledge generated is expected to pave the way for the development of novel therapies to prevent and treat necrotizing enterocolitis, a serious intestinal disease that primarily affects preterm infants and a leading cause of death among premature infants in the United States. The award period is April 1, 2022–March 31, 2026.

The research team includes experts from several institutions, including two from Lurie Children’s: Pauline Chou, MD, Division Head, Anatomic Pathology, and Isabelle De Plaen, MD, Attending Physician, Neonatology. Pediatric research at Lurie Children’s is conducted through Stanley Manne Children's Research Institute.
Diane Chen Receives Donald K. Routh Early Career Award 
Diane Chen, PhD, Behavioral Health Director of the Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine with Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, received the Donald K. Routh Early Career Award from the Society of Pediatric Psychology (SPP). The award recognizes significant contributions of an early career member of SPP to the field of pediatric psychology in research, clinical training, and service. Chen is also Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Pediatrics with Northwestern University.
Nancy Young Joins Hearing Health Foundation Board of Directors 
Nancy M. Young, MD, FACS, FAAP, Medical Director of Audiology and Cochlear Implant Programs with Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and the Lillian S. Wells Professor of Otolaryngology with Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, recently joined the Board of Directors of the Hearing Health Foundation (HHF), the largest nonprofit funder of hearing and balance research based in the United States.

As a member of the board, Dr. Young will be responsible for the leadership and governance of HHF, ensuring financial health and stability to achieve the organization’s mission to prevent and cure hearing loss and tinnitus through ground-breaking research and to promote hearing health. For more than 60 years, HHF has awarded scientific research grants to foster the development of cochlear implant technology, more effective hearing aids, and successful ear surgeries. HFF’s Emerging Research Grants are for up to $50,000 and are renewable for a second year. HHF also funds a Hearing Restoration project involving an international team of scientists working to regenerate hair cells and thus restore hearing
Calli Willett and Evan Templeman to Present Poster at AAPD Conference 
Dr. Calli Willett and Dr. Evan Templeman, second-year residents with Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Division of Pediatric Dentistry, will present their research on calcium ion release from new experimental varnishes during a poster session at the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s annual conference in San Diego, Calif., May 26–29.

The study measured calcium ion release from two varnishes, an experimental calcium varnish and a commercial varnish, with and without the addition of xylitol. The results showed that the experimental varnish without xylitol released more calcium than the experimental varnish with xylitol, and both released significantly more calcium than the commercial varnish. Dr. Willett and Dr. Templeman conclude that a calcium-releasing dental varnish for take-home use by caregivers may provide benefits in a dental preventative care program.
Congratulations to the Stanley Manne Children's Research Institute faculty, staff, affiliates, and collaborators who represented our research enterprise at the Pediatric Academic Societies' Annual Meeting in Denver, Colo., April 21–25. For a snapshot of the Manne Research Institute presentations, posters, and other activities, check out the recent coverage our new research institute twitter feed. The online, on-demand access to the PAS sessions is now available for registrants.
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Research Staff Additions and Promotions
Diana Bahena
Research Project Manager, Quantitative Science  
Diana Bahena has been named Research Project Manager for Quantitative Science. Bahena is an experienced administrator and program supervisor with diverse professional experience. Driven by a passion for communication and technology, she takes pride in developing best practices for customer service and collaboration in research settings. She has spent the last several years providing support for government health programs as well as the 2020 Decennial Census. Bahena earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Myah Brown
Behavioral Research Assistant for LifeSkills Mobile, Division of Adolescent Medicine 
The Division of Adolescent Medicine welcomes Myah Brown to the role of Behavioral Research Assistant for LifeSkills Mobile. Brown is a community advocate and mentor for transgender and gender non-conforming youth and has spent more than 8 years advocating and working in sexual health prevention, education, and programing for young Black and Brown LGBTQ+ community members. Brown received the Windy City Times’ 30 under 30 award in 2018 for her selflessness, commitment, and contributions to her community. But she didn’t stop there; from 2019 to 2021, she was Chicago Department of Public Health co-chair holder for the Chicago Area HIV Integrated Services Council’s community engagement and development. Brown was also the first Black trans woman to chair the Center on Halsted’s “A Night with Oscars” fundraiser that raised $64,000 to continue services for homeless Black and Brown LGBTQ+ youth living with HIV. In her new role at Lurie Children’s, Brown hopes to build a bridge between her community and community organization as well as provide more supportive resources for young people of trans experience.
Alexander M. Oehmke
Research Accountant, Sponsored Research Finance Office 

The Sponsored Research Finance Office (SRFO) welcomes Alexander M. Oehmke as Research Accountant. Oehmke joins the SRFO team from the University of Illinois at Chicago where he was a Sponsored Awards Associate managing post-award transactions for medical research awards, such as the clinical trials for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. He received an MBA from the University of Iowa and has seven years of experience in budget planning and project management.
Rashad White
Research Financial Portfolio Manager, Sponsored Research Finance Office
Rashad White, MBA, PhD, recently joined the Sponsored Research Finance Office as Research Financial Portfolio Manager. White has worked in the grants management and finance fields for more than 10 years. He previously worked for Start Early and Northwestern University. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from Monmouth College, Master of Business Administration from Keller Graduate School of Management, and PhD in General Business and Operations from Capella University.
If your team has a staff addition, transition, or promotion to share, please use the button to the right to submit a short profile and photo.
Office of the Chief Operating Officer
Resource for Simpson Querrey Workday Requestors

In a collective effort to build understanding and provide additional transparency around the Workday purchasing, shipping, and receiving process, the operations staff have created a work aid explaining the process and stakeholders involved when placing and receiving orders at Simpson Querrey Biomedical Research Center.

Work Aid topics include:

  • Understanding the Procurement Process
  • Types & Locations of “Deliver-To” drop sites
  • Suppliers Website/Punch-out Vendors
  • Receiving–Roles & Responsibilities
  • Delivery–Roles & Responsibilities
  • Who to contact for issues related to:
  • Package deliveries
  • Workday Accounts
  • Purchase Order
  • Important Points of Contact

We certainly hope this helps and welcome any feedback
Office of Research Integrity and Compliance
and the Office of Research Development
Limited English Proficiency Taskforces Expands Language Offerings of Consent Forms  
The Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Taskforce, which is composed of faculty and professionals across the organization, was created in January 2021 with a common goal of improving and updating current policies and procedures regarding the inclusion of non-English speaking participants in research.

The taskforce is excited to update the research community regarding recent efforts made to help enhance the inclusion of participants with limited English proficiency in research. Together, with the Office of Research Integrity and Compliance, and Office of Research Development, we have updated our short-informed consent forms and added additional languages to be more inclusive of potential research participants across diverse populations study teams encounter at Lurie Children’s. You can find the short forms and their corresponding certifications of translation available on researcher toolkit here: IRB Consent Forms & Resources | Lurie Children's (
Previously available and updated languages:  

  • Amharic  
  • Arabic  
  • Bosnian  
  • Burmese  
  • Chinese  
  • French
  • Hebrew
  • Mongolian
  • Polish
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Urdu
  • Vietnamese  
New languages available:

  • Traditional Chinese  
  • Japanese
  • Somali 
  • Korean
  • Ukrainian
  • Bengali 
  • Malayalam 
  • Hindi
  • Romanian  
For those looking for additional training and guidance on consenting non-English speaking participants, a recent REAL training titled, Consenting and Enrolling Non-English Speaking Participants, is available here for viewing on ResearchPedia - Previous Research Professional Events.

If you are interested in learning more about the LEP Taskforce and its initiatives, please contact Norma Melgoza.
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