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How Microsoft Data Scientists Are Helping Seattle Children’s Solve SIDS

The story of John Kahan and his wife, Heather, losing their son Aaron to SIDS 13 years ago inspired his colleagues at Microsoft to develop a data analysis tool for SIDS research, which they have donated to Seattle Children’s Research Institute. (Photo by Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures)

John Kahan manages a team of renowned Microsoft data scientists who are changing how society can use data effectively, from deciding when to plant crops to creating predictive business models.

But when he’s not at work, Kahan commits his time to a personal mission: Raising awareness about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and fundraising for research. John and Heather Kahan lost their baby boy, Aaron, to SIDS shortly after his birth 13 years ago.

When Kahan’s data science team learned about Aaron, they volunteered to apply Microsoft technology to SIDS data and donate the company’s emerging tech tools to Seattle Children’s researchers who study SIDS.

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Different Cancers, Same Drug: New Trial Targets Common Genetic Pathway in Tumors

Connor Pearcy, 5, with his family. Born with a tumor that did not respond to traditional therapies, he was enrolled in a clinical trial testing a new cancer drug. After four months of treatment, scans show his tumor is gone.

Connor Pearcy, 5, was born with a tumor below his knee. A teenage boy developed a cancerous thyroid tumor in his neck. Connor and the teenager have very different tumors, but they are both on the same drug. How is that possible?

A new pediatric cancer trial at Seattle Children’s is testing a drug that targets a specific set of genetic alterations associated with soft tissue tumors in different parts of the body. Connor and the other patients in the trial have tumors that harbor one of the characteristic genetic changes the drug is designed to exploit.

Dr. Katie Albert, pediatric oncologist, and Dr. Doug Hawkins, associate division chief of Hematology and Oncology at Seattle Children’s, are overseeing the trial, which is making precision medicine possible for young cancer patients.

“It’s not easy having a child born with a tumor,” Amy Pearcy, Connor’s mom, said. “I appreciate that Dr. Hawkins never gave up looking for something new to offer, and so far it seems like we have found it.” Read full post »

HIV Immunotherapy Study Shows T-Cells Can Kill, Resist HIV Simultaneously

Seattle Children’s researchers developed a T cell that can both kill and resist HIV. On the left is a microscopic image of thousands of HIV-infected cells after being exposed to normal, unedited T cells. On the right is a microscopic image of HIV-infected cells after being exposed to edited T cells. The clumping in the image to the right indicates HIV positive cells are being killed by the edited T cells.

HIV is a cunning virus—it infects, takes over and shuts down the body’s T-cells that fight infection. This leaves HIV-positive individuals without immune power to fight off many types of infections, even a common cold, which can become deadly.

Researchers at Seattle Children’s Research Institute published two studies in the journal Molecular Therapy that could lead to a more permanent treatment that uses the power of the immune system to fight off disease. With the use of gene editing, they developed a T-cell that can both kill and resist HIV simultaneously, a promising step forward in the development of HIV immunotherapy.

“Our goal is to develop an HIV treatment that is more permanent than a daily drug,” said Dr. David Rawlings, director of the Center for Immunity and Immunotherapy at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. “In the future we hope this treatment would eliminate the need for HIV drugs that have negative side effects on people who need them to stay alive.” Read full post »

Tiny Hearts, Faster Healing: Seattle and Indonesian Cardiologists’ Easy Fix Improves Heart Surgery Recovery in Babies

A pediatric heart surgery patient at the National Cardiovascular Center hospital in Jakarta, Indonesia. Researchers found giving babies thyroid hormone during and after heart surgery got them off ventilators faster.

Babies who need heart surgery in the U.S. have access to advanced healthcare and doctors that get them into the operating room quickly, allowing them to fix problems early and give the babies a chance at healthy growth.

But in developing countries, babies wait longer for surgery for a variety of reasons: Fewer qualified doctors, late diagnoses of heart conditions, and capacity issues at hospitals that cannot accommodate all the infants who need surgery. As a result, babies with heart conditions in developing regions of the world are often sicker and weaker when they finally have surgery.

Dr. Eva Marwali, a pediatric cardiac intensivist at the National Cardiovascular Center Harapan Kita in Jakarta, Indonesia sees this happen to babies in her country. She teamed up with Dr. Michael Portman, a cardiologist at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, and in a study out in the Annals of Thoracic surgery, they identified an easy, economical way to speed recovery for babies at her hospital who need lifesaving heart surgery. Read full post »

Seattle Children’s Sets GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ Title for DNA Experiment at Groundbreaking for New Research Building

Students from Sunrise Elementary in Puyallup, Washington participate in the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS attempt for most people conducting a DNA isolation experiment simultaneously.

Seattle Children’s Research Institute succeeded in a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS attempt for the most people conducting a DNA isolation experiment simultaneously. The record was set to celebrate the groundbreaking for Seattle Children’s newest pediatric research facility, Building Cure, which will be located in Seattle’s South Lake Union biotech corridor at 1920 Terry Ave. It is scheduled to open in 2019.

The GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title was set by more than 300 people at the building’s future location. Several hundred volunteer participants isolated the DNA of a strawberry simultaneously, including elementary school students from Sunrise Elementary in Puyallup, Washington. Read full post »

How a Genetic Discovery Could Explain Parker’s Mysterious Medical Case

The right side of Parker Walsh’s body and brain are bigger than the left. Doctors at Seattle Children’s Research Institute are studying a genetic mutation that could point to a cause for his condition.

When Parker Walsh flashes his toothy smile, he can get everyone around him grinning as well. That smile has pulled Parker, 21, and his family through a lot of tough times.

Parker was born with a host of medical issues that have impacted his development—a craniofacial abnormality, gastrointestinal issues, neurological delays and speech difficulty. Doctors could not pinpoint a specific cause for his conditions, and offered the best treatments available based on their diagnoses.

Now, doctors at Seattle Children’s Research Institute studying a gene that controls cellular growth have provided clues for what might have contributed to some of Parker’s medical issues, and the information could lead to improved diagnosis and therapies for babies and kids that share Parker’s experience. Read full post »

Top 6 Seattle Children’s Blogs of 2016

Bowen Warren, 3, was in the top blog post from 2016. Bowen was born with three heart defects and was brought to Seattle Children’s for emergency surgery.

Every day, extraordinary patients visit Seattle Children’s Hospital and researchers work toward medical breakthroughs at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. From scientific discoveries that make you say ‘wow’ to resilient patients who make you say ‘aww,’ these six blog posts from 2016 struck a chord with readers and were the most popular stories from the year.

1. Born With Three Heart Defects, Bowen is Now Thriving As He Approaches His Third Birthday

The top blog post in 2016 featured Bowen Warren, who was rushed to Seattle Children’s for emergency heart surgery when he was born with three heart defects.

The Heart Center team developed a personalized treatment course for Bowen that included cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, echocardiography and creating a 3-D replica of Bowen’s heart that allowed surgeons to ‘practice’ a complex procedure called a Nikaidoh before getting him in the operating room. Today, Bowen is a happy, healthy and thriving 3-year-old. Read full post »

Give the Gift of a Healthier Baby: Seattle Children’s Partners on Monthly Subscription With Cricket Crate

Seattle Children’s is partnering with Cricket Crate, a monthly subscription service developed by Kiwi Crate, Inc. that gets babies and parents started on the right path to child health. Proceeds from sales support child health and behavior research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

If there’s a new baby in the family or someone you know is expecting, what better way to show your love than a gift that encourages healthy child development and supports pediatric research? Seattle Children’s is partnering with Cricket Crate, a monthly subscription service developed by Kiwi Crate, Inc. that aims to get babies and parents started on the right path to child health. The monthly boxes include age-appropriate items for newborns and toddlers up to 3 years of age.

Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, helps design the content of the boxes. Each month, parents receive a package with an age-specific toy or product, a book to read to your baby, a short magazine with tips and an online toolkit. Proceeds from the sales benefit child health and behavior research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Read full post »

Honoring Ambassador Chris Stevens: New Medical Exchange Creates Cultural Understanding Across Borders

Ambassador Chris Stevens

Ambassador Chris Stevens’ life was formed by global experiences, and a new endowment in his memory at Seattle Children’s intends to preserve his legacy by connecting pediatricians in Seattle with pediatricians abroad.

When Dr. Anne Stevens thinks of her brother, she remembers his wide-eyed awe about the world around him. That love of discovery is what led her brother, former Ambassador Chris Stevens, to a career in diplomacy with the U.S. State Department.

“Chris was a big believer in international exchange and experiences,” said Stevens, a pediatric rheumatologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “His life was formed by global experiences, and he also inspired my little brother, sister and I to learn foreign languages and study abroad.”

Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans died in the line of service during a tragic attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya in 2012.

Now, a newly funded endowment at Seattle Children’s will preserve his legacy of cultural understanding with a medical exchange that connects pediatricians in Seattle to pediatricians abroad through an intensive training and education program. Read full post »

New SIDS Research Shows Carbon Dioxide, Inner Ear Damage May Play Important Role

Dr. Daniel Rubens published a new study that shows the buildup of carbon dioxide and inner ear damage may be linked to SIDS.

Dr. Daniel Rubens published a new study that shows the buildup of carbon dioxide and inner ear damage may be linked to SIDS.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) may be linked to the build up of carbon dioxide and existing inner ear damage according to a new study in the journal Neuroscience. Author Dr. Daniel Rubens, an anesthesiologist and researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, says the finding could help researchers understand the sequence of events and risk factors that lead to SIDS deaths.

“This is potentially an important breakthrough in understanding the biological underpinnings of what may be causing SIDS,” Rubens said. “We found that exposure to increasing levels of carbon dioxide and inner ear damage in mice resulted in a lack of movement toward safety and fresh air during sleep. We want to fine tune this discovery and study the connection to carbon dioxide in more detail.” Read full post »