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January 2013 Newsletter

What Does a New Hospital Mean for Research?

By now, many of you know about our new Golisano Children’s Hospital at URMC, scheduled to open in 2015. Many have seen our website, now newly equipped with access to our East and West webcams, so you can see the building literally begin to rise from the ground. Hopefully, you have used that site to access the blueprints and artist’s renderings of the planned building. It is easy to understand what a new children’s hospital building means for patient and family comfort, infection control, and ease of access to the many services an inpatient child could need. It is perhaps less obvious what this building means to our research enterprise.

We have always had an extraordinarily robust clinical and health services research engine here in Rochester. Our community pediatricians both initiate and participate in this research and our Division of General Pediatrics is among the most research-intensive such divisions in the U.S. Our basic and translational research spans the entire medical center physical plant – from Strong Memorial Hospital to the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry to the Medical Research Buildings and their many centers, we bring the child health and developmental perspective to every branch of the biomedical enterprise! This year, we were ranked 14th in NIH funding by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research, and we have risen in these ranks each year despite the rising bar for national grant funding.

So what will happen when the new hospital opens? How does building a new children’s hospital impact biomedical research? Below are just a few of the synergies already impacting our physician- and educator-scientists.

Just for Kids and Families

Many of our physician-scientists-in-training come to Golisano Children’s Hospital via their adult subspecialty training programs. Residents and fellows from Otolaryngology, Surgery, Neurology, Allergy/Immunology, just to name a few, are primarily trained as specialists in adult medicine or surgery. They spend several months caring for children. Having a special place for kids and families, with its own special look and feel, will remind them of the importance of including children and families in the opportunities that clinical research affords and looking out for the special circumstances and interests of children and families in the conduct of such research. Some of the medications and procedures used for childhood illness are not formally tested in kids.  We use them because they are all we have and because experience has shown us that they have some likelihood of being effective without causing side effects. But children have not always been included in clinical trials and they are not just little adults. Our new hospital will underscore for those we train who become the next generation of physician-scientists the importance of specifically including children and families in studies of novel therapies.

Facilitating Participation in Research by Ensuring Privacy

The Federal HIPAA regulations have certainly changed the way and degree to which we think about patient and family privacy in regard to health information and care. But have you ever been in a double patient room and administered “informed consent?" Have you ever obtained research survey information from a patient and/or family when there is a patient in the next bed in the same room? Somehow, we and our patients and families make it work. We pull a curtain, we talk softly, we sit as close as we can, pulling in chairs for whoever needs to participate in the conversation – you know the drill. But how much better will it be when each patient has a private room and each family has enough space to sit comfortably at the bedside? Private rooms and dedicated family space (including consultation rooms) will make it easier for a patient and family to participate in clinical research and easier for a physician-scientist, nurse-scientist, and research coordinator to get the information they need from every research participant.

Everybody's Talking

Sometimes it seems the lay public thinks of science as a solitary enterprise. Remember Beaker, the scientist who speaks in a language no one can understand? Anyone who has done science, especially of the biomedical kind, knows that science is an intensely social enterprise. Ideas grow and blossom and are implemented through the exchange of information and critiques among people with very different professional expertise and a shared interest in the topic or the subjects of the research. How wonderful it will be to have pediatric imaging sciences and all general and subspecialty surgeons and anesthesiologists in the same building with each other and with all general and subspecialty pediatricians, as they care for their pediatric inpatients! Think of the exchange of ideas this will foster!

But What About the Rest of the Professional Community?

Our new children’s hospital will give us the best of both worlds. It will be connected to Strong Memorial Hospital on many levels, so the lobbies will connect and the moms and babies will still be in geographic contiguity! We have been joking that looking out of the window of the new hospital will afford a view of the “green elevators” of Strong. It’s true! And this contiguity will mean we are only a few more steps away than at present from the basic science laboratories and the Medical Research Buildings, and still right across Crittenden Avenue from the School of Nursing, Department of Public Health Sciences, and Saunders Clinical Translational Sciences Building.

Wishing all of you a happy, healthy, and productive New Year!

Enjoy watching us grow!