At the onset of the pandemic, scientists across the world posed many questions about how COVID-19 would affect children, specifically populations who were already immunocompromised or living with respiratory conditions. Le Bonheur scientists were no different, eager to find answers to how they could help their patients.
Leading Le Bonheur’s efforts to find the answers is Terri Finkel, MD, PhD, vice chair of Clinical Affairs at Le Bonheur.
“My aim is to connect researchers for collaboration opportunities in our weekly ‘think tank’ meetings,” said Finkel. “More than 50 individuals from Le Bonheur, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and more are connecting in order to partner on pediatric COVID-19 research efforts.”
My aim is to connect researchers for collaboration opportunities in our weekly ‘think tank’ meetings. More than 50 individuals from Le Bonheur, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and more are connecting in order to partner on pediatric COVID-19 research efforts.
This research is possible thanks to Children’s Foundation Research Institute (CFRI) – a partnership between the Children’s Foundation of Memphis, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) and Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. The CFRI, funded by generous donors, provides the infrastructure and resources to conduct successful, state-of-the-art biomedical research into diseases that affect children, like COVID-19.
Better understanding the disease’s effect on children allows Le Bonheur leaders to provide clearer guidance to city leaders, parents and caregivers to keep children safe, whether guiding back-to-school policies or returning to sports and activities.
The primary research project on COVID-19 is the CIViC-19 study titled “Clinical Immunological and Virological Characterization of COVID-19” conducted in partnership with UTHSC. The project is led by Assistant Professor of Pediatrics Heather Smallwood, PhD, who is lead principal investigator, and Le Bonheur Infectious Disease Specialist Nick Hysmith, MD, who is the clinical director for pediatrics for the study.
The study aims to define characteristics that influence how severe the disease is in an individual as well as identify potential medication and therapy opportunities to combat COVID-19.
“Understanding the relationship between clinical characteristics and patient variables that influence the immune response and disease severity is vital to improving diagnosis, prediction and treatment of COVID-19,” said Hysmith. “The experts on this team cover a wide range of areas in order to investigate both the adult and pediatric populations impacted.”
The study will allow for rapid reports to share with local COVID-19 response teams. The rapid reports can
provide an accurate risk assessment of key populations in Memphis and better community management from improved test timing.
“Practically, we hope to be able to help the Memphis area quickly by providing a data-driven management of return-to-work and school policies based on viral shedding,” said Hysmith.
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