On the Pulse

For Mother-Daughter, Science and Medicine Run in the Family

Dr. Bonnie Ramsey (left) and Dr. Ann Dahlberg (right), are not only mother-daughter but also fellow clinical researchers and at Seattle Children’s.

When Dr. Bonnie Ramsey entered medical school at the advice of an undergraduate professor in the early 1970s, she and her female classmates at Harvard Medical School were still among the early coteries of women to pursue careers in science and medicine.

“We were the first bolus of women,” Ramsey said, using the medical term to describe their injection into a field dominated by male physicians. “It was interesting. When you are the first cohort, there is a tendency to compete with each other rather than work as a team.”

Since finding her footing in those early days, Ramsey has pioneered therapies improving the lives of children with cystic fibrosis (CF). Today, she leads all clinical research efforts at Seattle Children’s as the director of the Center for Clinical and Translational Research.

Her career will no doubt leave a lasting impact for the future physicians, researchers and women that will follow her, but for Ramsey, it’s a personal legacy that makes her most proud. Over the last decade, she’s watched her daughter enter the medical field and become a formidable physician-scientist in her own right.

“I am so incredibly proud of her,” Ramsey said. “Watching what she has to juggle and balance is in some ways harder for me than doing what I did with no real generation ahead of me to look to for guidance.” Read full post »


Seattle Children’s New Autism Center Will Help Advance Care for Families in the Region Thanks to Generous Gift

This past December, Nataly Cuzcueta was brought to tears by a word from her 4-year-old daughter, Kira.

With her little arms outstretched, Kira looked up to her mother and said “up.” It may seem like a simple request, but for Cuzcueta, it was a major milestone and cause for celebration. Immediately and happily, she obeyed. She lifted her daughter into her arms and excitedly twirled around the room, a smile beaming across her face.

“Today has been a day I’ll never forget,” she said.

Miles away at Seattle Children’s Autism Center, Dr. Mendy Minjarez, director of the Applied Behavior Analysis Early Intervention Program and interim executive director of Seattle Children’s Autism Center at Seattle Children’s, celebrated as well. Cuzcueta had captured the moment on her camera and had sent a note of gratitude to Minjarez and her care team.

“It was monumental for our whole team,” Minjarez said. “I remember getting the email and running down the hall excitedly to tell our team. It’s been a long time coming.”

Today, Cuzcueta says the team at Seattle Children’s Autism Center is like a second family. Her twin daughters have come a long way since they first started receiving treatment more than 2 years ago. Read full post »


Bringing Sustainability and Choices to Hospital Food

Alicia Henn, a cook in Seattle Children’s Forest Kitchen, helps serve healthy, sustainable food to patients, families and workforce members.

What do you think of when someone says, “hospital food” — green Jell-O anyone?

You probably don’t think of create-your-own omelets, barbecued chicken salads, street tacos or hand-tossed pizzas.

Hospital food has traditionally gotten a bad rap — and for many years it was deserved.

When Gina Sadowski, director of Nutrition, Culinary and Retail, started at Seattle Children’s more than 15 years ago, the food options in the hospital industry left something to be desired.

“Hospitals had very basic menus, heavily reliant on processed and convenience foods,” she said. “It was literally open a box, heat, serve.”

Since then, it has been Sadowski’s goal to change that at Seattle Children’s. Read full post »


Helping Families Navigate the Digital World

Digital devices like the iPad have only been around for about 10 years, but in that short amount of time, they have become ingrained into everyday life and research examining their impact on young children is limited.

Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, was featured on the TODAY Show to discuss the evolving digital age children are growing up in. Watch as three families learn more about how their children interact with devices like the iPad and hear about the challenges Christakis faces as technology continues to advance at a much faster rate than our understanding of the impact of digital devices on a child’s developing mind.

It may seem as though digital devices and touch screens like the iPad have been around for decades, but the reality is that these devices have only been around for about 10 years. In that short amount of time, they have become ingrained into everyday life, but research on their impact is limited. What concerns researchers like Dr. Dimitri Christakis is that we don’t yet understand the effects these devices may have on young children, and so that’s why they’ve taken center stage in many of his research studies.

Christakis isn’t advocating for taking screens away from children. He simply hopes he can help parents and caregivers better understand and navigate how devices like the iPad can fit into their lives in a healthy way.

“The point isn’t that we should take away all digital devices, but rather that we should come at it from a different perspective,” Christakis said. “We should ask, ‘How can we help children live healthy lives in a digital world that they’re immersed in from birth?” Read full post »


Unraveling Microaggressions

Microaggression may not be a term that most are familiar with.

Without knowing it, you may have been the recipient of a microaggression, or may have committed a microaggression.

That’s precisely why it’s important to understand what microaggressions are, so we can address and challenge our own biases, be aware that disparities exist, and assess the significant impact it has on our society.

On the Pulse sat down for a Q&A with Dr. Roberto Montenegro, a psychiatrist from Seattle Children’s Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine clinic, who studies microaggressions.

Read full post »


Fighting to Give Every Child With Cancer a Chance to Become a Parent

Taylor Tran (left) and her mother Mai Nguyen. Taylor underwent cancer treatment when she was 2 years old, causing her to go into early menopause when she was just 16.

“You pay the price for having cancer over and over again.”

Mai Nguyen’s words are loaded with sorrow as she speaks about her 17-year-old daughter, Taylor Tran, who is dealing with fertility concerns more than a decade after she survived late-stage cancer.

It’s easy to understand the exasperation Nguyen feels: Her daughter was diagnosed with stage 3 single-cell sarcoma of the kidney when she was 2 years old and was treated with intense chemotherapy and radiation. Now, the treatments that saved her life have put her into early menopause.

“It’s been traumatic,” Nguyen said. “We’ve tried so hard to allow Taylor to have a normal childhood and this feels like one more thing cancer has taken from her.”

Stories like Taylor’s inspired Seattle Children’s urologist Dr. Margarett Shnorhavorian to tackle a challenging area of research that was largely uncharted more than a decade ago. Since then, she’s helped change perspectives and protocols for fertility preservation in childhood cancer survivors. Read full post »


Tara Shares a Message of Inclusion

Tara Nadella shares her personal experience as the sibling of a patient at Seattle Children’s and explains why she approaches life with a lens of inclusion.

I’m 17 and a senior in high school. Family time is important to me, especially with my siblings! When my brother, Zain, and I spend time together, we usually listen to music or go to the movies.

Pretty ordinary sibling stuff, but what makes our story particularly unique is the fact that Zain has cerebral palsy.

Zain is 23 and has been a patient at Seattle Children’s for his entire life – so we see the hospital as a second home. We’ve spent a lot of time there, including holidays like Thanksgiving and Easter.

Last year, Zain was in the intensive care unit for his birthday, so we brought the party to him — taking turns visiting his room and singing. The staff was so gracious about everything, and we were able to bring joy to Zain even though he was in a hospital bed.

From my first taste of onion rings in the cafeteria as a child to understanding how to care for my brother today, this hospital has been a partner on our journey. All children and families deserve the exceptional care we’ve been so fortunate to receive at Seattle Children’s. Read full post »


Juvenile Arthritis Can’t Stop Izzy From Dashing Through the Snow

Seattle Children’s nurse practitioner Amber Bock (right), has been vigilant in managing her daughter Izzy’s care since she was diagnosed with arthritis at age 2.

In downtown Seattle on Dec. 8, hundreds of festive runners dressed up for the Arthritis Foundation’s annual Jingle Bell Run.

Among them was sassy 3-year-old Izzy Bock, who scampered down Fifth Avenue dressed as Cindy Lou Who from The Grinch. Onlookers would likely never have guessed this energetic child has juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

“How long had she been in pain?”

Juvenile arthritis is an autoimmune disorder causing inflammation of joints which can be associated with pain and stiffness, and can affect range of motion.

It is often challenging to diagnose juvenile arthritis in young children.

“Often, kids don’t complain of pain,” says Seattle Children’s rheumatologist Dr. Sriharsha Grevich. “They would rather focus on playing. Parents may not notice something is wrong until their child starts limping or shows other signs.”

This was the case for Izzy, whose mother, Amber Bock, is a nurse practitioner in Seattle Children’s Medically Complex Child program. When Izzy was 2 years old, she came home from daycare with a swollen ankle after tripping on a climbing structure. Amber took her daughter to an urgent care clinic, but X-rays didn’t reveal any serious injury. Read full post »


Aliyanna Overcomes the Odds, Celebrates Her Second Birthday with Her Care Team

From the first time Daisy Martinez heard the thumping of her baby’s heartbeat, she was in love. She always wanted to be a mother and hoped for a baby girl. She even had a name picked out: Aliyanna.

When doctors confirmed Martinez was having a baby girl, she was elated. Unfortunately, her joy was short-lived. During an ultrasound 25 weeks into her pregnancy, the ultrasound technician noticed something amiss. A large lump was growing on Aliyanna’s spine. Read full post »


Ciara and DeAndre Bring Holiday Cheer to Seattle Children’s

The joyful sound of caroling could be heard echoing through the halls of Seattle Children’s and Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic (OBCC) this week thanks to two very special visitors, Ciara alongside her and Russell’s new music artist DeAndre. They handed out toys and gift cards to patients and families at the hospital and delighted families with classic holiday songs.

“I’m so grateful we got to come and sing for you all today,” Ciara said. “We believe in you and we’re rooting for you,” she added.

In the inpatient playroom at the hospital, patients and families were overjoyed. They sang along, with some children singing at the top of their lungs with huge smiles on their faces, and others dancing happily to the cheerful tunes. Read full post »