Pediatric INSIGHTS, Fall 2023

Ella’s Story: Finding Compassionate Care for her Complex Condition at Children’s

Ella Weisbord dressed as a doctor for HalloweenAt only 10 days old, Michelle and David Weisbord noticed that their newborn daughter Ella felt “clammy” and was sleeping a lot. They called their pediatrician who told them to go to the nearest Emergency Department (ED). Ella suffered several seizures and was ultimately diagnosed with E. coli (bacterial) neonatal meningitis. Ella eventually cleared the infection, but it left her with some brain damage and loculated, complex hydrocephalus that would require a ventriculoperitoneal shunt. Ella has required many surgeries so far to manage her shunt, but that hasn’t stopped her from being a smiley and happy young girl who loves playing baseball.

Read Ella's Story >>

Also in This Issue

  • New Pediatric Inpatient Unit at UPMC Hamot expands services available in Northwest Pa.
  • UPMC Hosts Inaugural Digital Health Summit
  • Children’s Opens Walk-In Behavioral Health Services in Lawrenceville

Top Accolades

UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Once Again Voted One of Soliant’s Top 20 Most Beautiful Hospitals in the U.S. for 2023

In August, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh was voted one of Soliant’s Top 20 Most Beautiful Hospitals in the United States. The annual contest aims to recognize hospitals across the country for their facility design, aesthetics, and comforting staff and patient experience by asking the public to nominate and vote on the facilities where they have had great experiences.

UPMC Children’s is recognized for “proving beauty is more than skin deep – that it starts from within and radiates through by making patients feel more comfortable, healing them faster and treating them like family.” Whether it’s soothing art and design or a healing garden to make a hospital feel more like home, UPMC Children’s takes great pride in creating an environment that fosters hope and healing.

The Pittsburgh Study Wins W. K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Scholarship Award

In August, it was announced that the team behind The Pittsburgh Study (TPS) and The University of Pittsburgh have won the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Award.

Administered by the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities, the award is given annually to four public universities in recognition of “exemplary strides” made toward close and productive community engagement. One of the four award winners will go on to win the C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award, the nation’s premier recognition for community engaged scholarship.

The association lauded TPS specifically for its work with regional communities to advance equitable access to health care and ensure communities have the data, tools and support they need to ensure children and adolescents thrive.

The Pittsburgh Study is much more than a run-of-the-mill longitudinal study. It is a program co-developed by scientists and parents, teachers and students, to follow 8,000 young people in the region from birth to adulthood to better understand what children need to thrive. The study comprises nine scientific committees that develop and test interventions at several stages of childhood development. Each committee is co-led by an academic researcher and a member of the community. 

Elizabeth Miller, MD, PhD, co-director of TPS and medical director of Community and Population Health at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, founded the study with Terence Dermody, MD, the Vira I. Heinz Distinguished Professor and Chair of Pediatrics, in 2018. They started with $8 million in catalyst funding. That has grown to more than $25 million in extramural research funds, Dr. Miller said. TPS is supported by UPMC Children's Hospital Foundation, the Shear Family Foundation, PNC, the Grable Foundation, and the Heinz Endowments.

UPMC Children’s Hospital Foundation News

70 Years of the Free Care Fund Telethon

For the last 70 years, KDKA has joined us by hosting the Free Care Fund Telethon for a night of hope, healing, and healthy futures. This year’s telecast, which supports the Free Care Fund, will mark the 70th Annual broadcast and marks the first time back in the Eat’n Park Atrium since 2019. Tune in on December 14 to KDKA-TV, or listen on KDKA AM 1020, to hear stories from our patients and their families. To learn more, visit to learn how you can be a Hero in Healing!

Regional News

UPMC Children’s Opens Pediatric Inpatient Unit at UPMC Hamot in Erie, To Host Physician Event on Nov. 1

UPMC Children’s recently expanded the services available to children and families in the Erie region by opening a pediatric inpatient unit at UPMC Hamot.

UPMC Children’s has provided high-quality outpatient pediatric services, from pediatric primary care to outpatient specialty services, in Erie for almost a decade. Now, we are adding inpatient pediatric care to the spectrum of services, backed by one of the top 10 children’s hospitals in the country.

To celebrate the opening of the unit, we are hosting a physician event on Wednesday, November 1, 2023, from 5:30-8 p.m. in the Lincoln Education Center at UPMC Hamot, 118 East 2nd St., Erie, PA 16507.

Attendees will enjoy an evening of networking and hors d’oeurvres with the leaders of UPMC Children’s and UPMC Hamot. They will be able to learn about the breadth of services available to those in our local community and tour the new unit and the UPMC Children’s Specialty Care Center.

Central Pa.: New Videos Showcase Depth and Breadth of Pediatric Services in Central Pa.

As part of a video series to showcase the depth and breadth of pediatric services in central Pa., UPMC’s clinical marketing team is developing videos to share the type of care patients and families can receive. On UPMC’s website (, the following videos are available and will be shared via social media and other communication channels.

  • Find out how UPMC Children's in Central Pa. can take care of a child at any phase of care.
  • Discover why our Child Life area at UPMC Children's in Harrisburg is a safe space for children.
  • Learn about UPMC Children's Specialty Services offered to families’ most precious belongings.

As more videos are developed, please continue to visit to learn about the services in central Pa.


Beyond Our Hospital Walls: Helping Children Live Their Healthiest Lives

As clinicians that serve children and their families, we know that a child’s health not only depends on the health of the child — but on the health of the family, neighborhood, and community. UPMC Children’s Division of Community Health connects pediatricians and family medicine physicians like you to a wealth of resources that can make a difference in the lives of your patients.

When you think about UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, the first things that likely come to mind are our medical specialties and advanced surgeries. But I want to share with you an effort outside our hospital walls that is absolutely fundamental to helping children in our community grow up healthy.

Our Division of Community Health is a remarkable program that works at the very roots of child health and family wellness. Its nationally recognized efforts are led by Elizabeth Miller, MD, PhD, medical director of Community and Population Health at UPMC Children’s, and Anne Marie Kuchera, MS, MA, RD, LPC, director of Community Health at UPMC Children’s.

Its mission is to collaborate with UPMC Children’s and other health care and community partners to improve health outcomes, reduce health disparities, and elevate the quality of life for children and families in the communities where they live, learn, work, and play.

Every provider who cares for children should know more about the work of Children’s Community Health— not only here in the greater Pittsburgh area, but in communities from Erie to Johnstown. And its reach continues to grow.

Children’s Community Health is making a difference on three fronts:

  • Providing vital family and social needs supports in the community, including home visits, neighborhood-based services and programs, and tangible goods, such as diapers.
  • Connecting clinical services to community resources to help support families outside of their medical appointments.
  • Partnering with schools to help close gaps between health care providers and school systems.

What can UPMC Children’s Community Health do for you?

“The most important way we can help clinicians address social drivers of health is by supporting their families whose social needs can’t be easily addressed in the clinical environment. These include needs related to transportation, housing stability, and food security,” says Dr. Miller. “Our community partnerships are absolutely vital to giving pediatric and family medicine practices concrete ways to help.”

Social drivers of health will soon be a quality measure for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Pediatric practices will be required at a federal level to ask questions about their patients' social needs, and UPMC Children’s Community Health can connect you to solutions to support those needs

“For example, pediatricians we work with now ask families questions like, ‘Do you have enough food in your home until the next paycheck arrives?’ If families identify that they have a need, we can help a practice meet urgent needs by connecting them with local food pantries and emergency food resources,” says Anne Marie. “We also connect them with community partners who can link them to sustainable nutrition assistance programs.” 

UPMC Children’s Community Health works very closely with the Pennsylvania Pediatric Health Network. Wherever you are located, it can help your practice find and build key community partnerships in your region — and guide you on how to establish agreements with those organizations.

Preparing next-generation pediatricians

Over the last five years, the Pediatric Residency Program at UPMC Children’s Hospital and UPMC Children’s Community Health has offered a rotation experience to build awareness of the tremendous supports in the community that can help kids and families live their healthiest lives.

“Every first-year pediatric resident spends a week with our Division, just as they would at any other clinical specialty,” says Anne Marie. “They go on home visits with community nurses. They spend time at the local food bank packing emergency food boxes. They learn about the social drivers that impact health. They begin to understand the key community partners they can turn to for help as physicians, and the community resources where they can refer patients and families to support basic and social needs.”

How can you connect to Community Health?

To learn how UPMC Children’s Community Health can support the needs of your patients and their families, contact Anne Marie Kuchera.

Andy Urbach, MD

Andy Urbach, MD, is senior medical director at Children's. He welcomes your comments and questions. Please send an email to



Digital Health News

UPMC Hosts Inaugural Digital Health Summit

The inaugural Digital Health Summit, held on October 4, was an overwhelming success, with over 150 attendees coming together to explore the latest advancements in healthcare technology.

The highlight of the event was keynote speaker, Joe Petro, CVP of Microsoft Health & Life Sciences Solutions and Platforms, whose inspiring presentation delved into the exciting prospects of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in healthcare. His insights left the audience both informed and motivated to embrace the future of healthcare and AI.

The conference featured 24 oral presentations and 45 poster presentations from departments across the UPMC enterprise. The rich variety of content ensured that attendees gained valuable insights into the ever-evolving landscape of digital health. The event served as a testament to the growing importance of digital health and the enthusiasm within the industry to harness the power of technology for improved healthcare outcomes. The resounding success of the Digital Health Summit sets the stage for future gatherings that will continue to push the boundaries of innovation in this crucial field.

Leadership Updates

Dr. Dale King Named Medical Director of Pediatric Services for Northwest PA & Western New York

Dale King, MD, has been named Medical Director, Pediatric Services, for the Northwest PA & Western New York region effective immediately. In this role, Dr. King will continue to build upon the scale and the scope of pediatric services in the region by improving access, quality, and the patient experience.

Dr. King received his medical degree from The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and completed his Pediatric residency, chief residency, and fellowship in Pediatric Gastroenterology at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. He has been a faculty member in the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition since 2011.

Dr. King has been an integral member of both the Intestinal Care and Rehabilitation (ICARE) and Pediatric Gastroenterology services at several outreach clinics in the community including Harrisburg, Hermitage, and Erie. He was instrumental in the growth of the UPMC Children’s Subspecialty Services in Erie, expanding the GI clinic from two days per month into a full-time clinic, and he began performing pediatric endoscopies which was a new site for Pediatric Gastroenterology procedures.  

Dr. Alison Culyba Appointed New Chief of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine

Beginning September 1, Alison Culyba, MD, PhD, MPH, will serve as the new chief of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Culyba received her medical and doctorate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and her Master of Public Health degree from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She completed combined pediatrics and internal medicine residency training at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and her adolescent medicine fellowship at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She joined the faculty of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh in 2017.

Dr. Culyba leads an interdisciplinary investigative team focused on youth and community violence prevention funded by the CDC, NIH, and SAMHSA. Coupling innovative social network and geospatial analytic methods with community-partnered intervention development, her team designs and tests interventions that leverage connections and neighborhood assets to protect youth. 

She is director of the Empowering Teens to Thrive hospital-based violence intervention program and community-based mentorship program at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, which provides wraparound support for youth injured or affected by violence. She is also director of the Career Education and Enhancement for Health Care Research Diversity (CEED) Program through the Institute for Clinical Research Education. She mentors students, fellows, and junior faculty engaged in health-equity research and has been recognized with the Philip Troen, M.D. Excellence in Medical Student Research Mentoring Award from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. 

Dr. Culyba succeeds Elizabeth Miller, MD, PhD, FSAHM, who led the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine for 12 years. Dr. Miller will continue her field-leading research and clinical care as Co-Director of the Pittsburgh Study and Medical Director of Community and Population Health at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Briana Bertoni Appointed Interim Clinical Director of the UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital Newborn Intensive Care Unit

On September 12, Briana Bertoni, MD, was appointed interim clinical director of the UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital Newborn Intensive Care Unit. Dr. Bertoni also will continue in her current role as director of clinical development and quality improvement for the Division of Newborn Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics.

Dr. Bertoni received her medical degree from the State University of New York Upstate Medical University and completed her pediatrics residency at Jefferson Medical College/Nemours A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children. She completed a fellowship in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital while also earning a Master of Business Operational Excellence from the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University. Dr. Bertoni also completed a clinical fellowship in Quality and Safety Leadership at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Bertoni joined the faculty of the Division of Newborn Medicine in 2021 and has been instrumental in developing a robust quality improvement program, both locally and at the system level. As an active participant in the UPMC Perinatal Quality Collaborative, she has helped to standardize quality metrics across the Pediatric and Womens Health Service Lines. She also is engaged in collaborative quality initiatives at the national level through her membership in the Children’s Hospitals Neonatal Consortium.

In Remembrance: Dena Hofkosh, MD

Dena Hofkosh, MDUPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh mourns the loss of Dr. Dena Hofkosh, who passed September 27 at the age of 68 surrounded by her loving family.

Dr. Hofkosh was an outstanding physician, educator, leader, and advocate for the most vulnerable. Children’s was her professional home for her 40-year career. She devoted her long clinical practice of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics to providing clarity and comfort to families. Her other professional love was the nurturing of the professional and often the personal lives of learners and colleagues, most recently as Vice Chair of Faculty Development and Director of the Office of Faculty Development in the Department of Pediatrics.

Dr. Hofkosh lived a purposeful life powered by love. Her Children’s family will miss her greatly.

To honor her legacy, memorial gifts may be made to the Dena Hofkosh, MD Endowed Fund for Faculty Development at UPMC Children's Hospital Foundation. Gifts in her memory will be invested as part of the endowment to support faculty career development, education, leadership, mentorship, wellness, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Laurels for Our Staff

These UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh staff members recently received recognition in their fields.

In August, Taylor Abel, MD, pediatric neurosurgeon and chief of pediatric epilepsy surgery at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh was named a winner of UPMC’s Excellence in Patient Experience Award. Dr. Abel was selected as a ‘Top UPMC Physician by Specialty,’ in pediatric neurosurgery. According to UPMC, of the more than 5,000 UPMC physicians, Dr. Abel was among only 48 recipients of this award across all of UPMC’s specialties.

In June, Silva Arslanian, MD, director of the Pediatric Clinical and Translational Research Center (PCTRC) and scientific director of the Center for Pediatric Research in Obesity and Metabolism (CPROM) at UPMC Children’s, was awarded the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) 2023 Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Diabetes Research Award at the ADA’s Annual Scientific Meeting in San Diego, California. The award recognizes Dr. Arslanian’s exceptional contributions towards patient-oriented clinical research that have had a significant impact on diabetes prevention and treatment. Her research has recently been published in The New England Journal of Medicine on the role of semiglutinide in adolescents and on clinical guidelines for treating obesity in children. Dr. Arslanian is the first woman to receive this award, which is highly competitive and rarely awarded to pediatricians.

Christine E. Bishop, MD, MA, director of Perinatal Supportive Care at UPMC Children’s, recently received the Advancing Women in Pediatric Medicine and Science award during the September 21st “Women In Medicine: Voices of Women” Pediatric Grand Rounds series. Dr. Bishop is the first recipient of this new award that was created to recognize a Department of Pediatrics faculty member who demonstrates exceptional dedication to issues that affect women in pediatric medicine within the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics.

In August,  Jessica D. Daley, MD, physician-researcher in pediatric hematology and oncology at UPMC Children’s, was awarded a Young Investigator Award from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) for her research project titled, “Radiation and the Tumor Microenvironment in an Immunocompetent Model of Ewing Sarcoma.” The Award is designed to support the ongoing need for startup funds for less experienced researchers pursuing promising clinical and scientific endeavors. Daley plans on investigating how radiation modulates immune suppression within the tumor with the goal of identifying new ways to improve the efficacy of radiation in the treatment of Ewing sarcoma tumors.

Erika Friehling, MD, and Diego Chaves-Gnecco, MD, MPH, FAAP, recently received the 2023 Castle Connolly Top Hispanic and Latino Doctors award. This award is designed to honor top clinicians and enable patients to find Castle Connolly Top Doctors who have shared backgrounds and experiences. All Castle Connolly Top Hispanic and Latino doctors are nominated by their peers and evaluated by the Castle Connolly research team who determine what doctors make the list. 

Amy Houtrow, MD, PhD, MPH, chief of the Division of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine at UPMC Children’s, was named to the Board of Scientific Counselors of the NIH Clinical Center for a 2023-2027 term.

Jacqueline Kreutzer, MD, FACC, FSCAI, FPICS, chief of Pediatric Cardiology and co-director of the Heart Institute at UPMC Children’s, received the 2023 Women in Cardiology Mentoring Award from the American Heart Association’s Council on Clinical Cardiology. This prestigious award recognizes individuals who have an outstanding record of effectively mentoring women cardiologists and underscores the importance of mentoring in the professional development of women. Dr. Kreutzer will be presented the award at the 2023 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions which is being held November 11-13 in Philadelphia, Pa.

Christine March, MD, MS, pediatric endocrinologist at UPMC Children's, was awarded a four-year, NIH – NIDDK K23 mentored career development grant for her study titled "School-Partnered Collaborative Care (SPACE) for Pediatric Type 1 Diabetes." Dr. March’s research aims to develop and test a team-based intervention in the school setting to support the health and well-being of children with type 1 diabetes.

In August, Jennifer Marin, MD, MSc, participated in the 75th Anniversary of Pediatrics commentary, “Advancing the Quality of Pediatric Emergency Medicine in Pediatrics.” Robert Hickey, MD, FAAP, FAHA, and Alejandro Hoberman, MD, were also featured authors in the commentary by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The article was published by the Section of Emergency Medicine (SOEM) within the AAP, one of AAP’s largest sections. This section provides a forum for advocacy, education, and research on patient care in pediatric emergency medicine. 

A multidisciplinary team of physician-scientists from UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh collaborated on a study of chronic Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) to help improve risk stratification and clinical management of liver, kidney, and heart transplant recipients affected by the virus.

Authors of the analysis, “Distinct association between chronic Epstein-Barr virus infection and T cell compartments from pediatric heart, kidney, and liver transplant recipients,” include George V. Mazariegos, MD, chief, Pediatric Transplantation; Marian G. Michaels, MDco-director, Transplant Infectious Diseases; and Brian Feingold, MD, medical director, Heart Failure and Transplantation Programs at UPMC Children’s.

Onome Oghifobibi, MD, MSc, FAAP, neonatologist at UPMC Children’s was recently unanimously elected to the Healthy Start Board of Directors. Healthy Start is an organization dedicated to supporting women, children, fathers, families, and communities in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties through comprehensive community-based programming, systems coordination, advocacy, and research and training. As part of a network of more than 100 community-based Healthy Start projects across the country, the organization aims to provide access to affordable and quality maternal and child health care. Dr. Oghifobibi has worked intimately with the resuscitation experts at the Safar Center for Resuscitation Research, focusing on defining the mechanisms underpinning cerebral blood flow dysregulation after asphyxia cardiac arrest with the goal of developing therapeutic strategies to improve neurological outcomes in infants and children with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. He completed his residency in pediatrics at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and his medical training at the University of Benin, Nigeria.

In September, Udai Pandey, PhD, director of the Children's Neuroscience Institute, was awarded an R01 grant from the NIH for his project, “Investigating the Contribution of ALS/FTD-Associated Mutations in the NEK1 Kinase to Disease Pathophysiology”. This R01 is a multi-PI R01, in partnership with Evangelos Kiskinis from Northwestern University, that spans over 5 years. The team hopes to shed light into the cellular mechanisms that are compromised by mutant NEK1 in neurons. Their studies will also likely uncover potential therapeutic targets for a significant percentage of ALS/FTD patients. 

Then in October, Dr. Pandey’s lab published an article in Nucleic Acids Research titled, “Drosha-dependent microRNAs modulate FUS-mediated neurodegeneration in vivo” and received another R01 grant award for their project “Identifying the molecular mechanisms of GEMIN5 mutations in a novel cerebellar ataxia syndrome.” 

Edward V. Prochownik, MD, PhD, director of Oncology Research at UPMC Children’s, had the study he led entitled, “Premature aging and reduced cancer incidence associated with near-complete body-wide Myc inactivation,” published recently in Cell Reports. In it, Dr. Prochownik and others discovered an interesting relationship between Myc inactivation and aging in mouse models. Specifically, their work showed that in mice with functioning Myc proto-oncogenes, remain comparatively healthier and longer-lived than mice with body-wide Myc inactivation initiated postnatally.

Vikram Raghu, MD, MS, associate program director of the Pediatric Gastroenterology Fellowship Program at UPMC Children’s, recently received a one-year research grant from the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (NASPGHAN) Foundation. This award will allow Dr. Raghu to expand his recruitment efforts in collecting health utility data in pediatric intestinal failure and transplant. The goal is to help determine the effects different interventions have on patients in both length and ongoing quality of life. Dr. Raghu also aims to specifically support translation services for his qualitative work to better understand the unique needs of the Latinx population, given that many families come from Puerto Rico and elsewhere for intestine transplant evaluation. 

Kristin N. Ray, MD, MS, FAAP, director of the General Academic Pediatrics Research Fellowship at UPMC Children’s and director of Health Systems Improvement for UPMC Children’s Community Pediatrics, was among three University of Pittsburgh faculty to represent the university at the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) and Executive Leadership in Health Care (ELH) fall session that took place in Philadelphia from September 9-15. ELAM and ELH were designed for women who aspire to lead at the executive level in the next five years to help enable these women to bring out their full potential in their work.

Kelsey Schweiberger, MD, MS, pediatrician in General Academic Pediatrics at UPMC Children’s was recently recognized as one of the Academy of Communication in Healthcare (ACH) 2023 Putnam Scholars. The Putnam Scholars Program is a two-year fellowship. The Putnam Scholars program is a competitive two-year fellowship that includes retreats, conferences, and support for research. At the end of their fellowship time, Putnam scholars will present the findings of their proposed research at the 2025 International Conference on Communication in Healthcare. Part of the program also includes senior mentorship, networking events, and support for travel and accommodations.

Dr. Schweiberger’s project is designed to utilize qualitative methodologies to understand the ideal inter-visit healthcare communication using the pediatric portal from the perspectives of caregivers and clinicians. Ultimately, this work will help better illuminate the changes in the healthcare communication landscape following the introduction of the patient portal, as well as in how parents choose from the myriad of ways to communicate with their child’s healthcare team. Dr. Schweiberger will work with Judy Chang, MD, MPH, as her senior mentor. Chang is an Associate Professor in both the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI). 

In July, Nader Shaikh, MD, MPH, physician-scientist in General Academic Pediatrics (GAP) at UPMC Children’s, had an article published in JAMA Pediatrics, titled, “Short-Course Therapy for Urinary Tract Infections in Children: The SCOUT Randomized Clinical Trial.” In this research project, Shaikh et al., looked at two different treatment protocols for urinary tract infections (UTIs) in children who were afebrile and asymptomatic by day 5 of therapy: a short-course (5 days of placebo after 5 days of antibiotic therapy) vs. standard-course (5 additional days of antibiotic therapy, a total of 10 days). In adults, typical therapy lasts 3-7 days which has long been the standard of care for UTIs, but there has been a significant lack of research into the necessity for extended therapy in children. Dr. Shaikh also has an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, titled, “Identifying Children Likely to Benefit From Antibiotics for Acute Sinusitis: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” In this publication, Nader, et al. investigated whether the efficiency of antibiotic treatments differs in children aged 2-11 years with acute sinusitis based on nasopharyngeal colonization with a bacterial pathogen or by the color of the nasal discharge.

In Late August, Eleanor Sharp, MD, MS, associate program director for the Pediatric Hospital Medicine Fellowship at UPMC Children's, was published in Hospital Pediatrics with her article “Frequency, Characteristics, and Outcomes of Patients Requiring Early PICU Readmission”. Also featured on this project from the Department was Catherine Forster, MD, MS, FAAP, who served as Sharp’s mentor on this project. Dr. Sharp and team found that while early PICU readmissions within the same hospitalization are uncommon, they are associated with significantly worse clinical outcomes and patients with medical complexities and technology dependence are especially vulnerable to these outcomes.

To increase awareness of genetic cholestatic liver diseases in the medical community, researchers from UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, including James. E. Squires, MD, MS, clinical lead, Starzl Network for Excellence in Liver Transplantation, and Maria Amendola, MD, published an overview of pediatric primary genetic cholestasis that is not related to biliary atresia, which encompasses between 25% and 50% of cases. The review, titled “Pediatric Genetic Cholestatic Liver Disease Overview” and published in the National Library of Medicine, details clinical characteristics, diagnosis, evaluation strategies, genetic counseling, and management.

In July, Kathryn S. Torok, MD, director of the Pediatric Scleroderma Clinic at UPMC Children’s, had an article published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences titled, “Single-Cell Transcriptome Analysis Identifies Subclusters with Inflammatory Fibroblast Responses in Localized Scleroderma.” In this research, Dr. Torok and her team employed the use of single-cell RNA sequencing technology, which provides a novel way to assess information at the individual cellular-level, overcoming the inherent similarities shared by localized scleroderma and systemic scleroderma. Then in August, Dr. Torok and her team had an article published in Pediatric Rheumatology titled, “Barriers to Care in Juvenile Localized and Systemic Scleroderma: An Exploratory Survey Study of Caregivers’ Perspectives.” This cross-sectional study gathered caregivers of juvenile localized scleraderma or systemic scleroderma patients to answer surveys regarding child’s condition and their experience in receiving a diagnosis and treatment. Then again in October, Dr. Torok along with Kaila L. Schollaert-Fitch, MS, were published in in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. Their joint publication, which includes collaborators from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, is titled, “Clinical Characteristics Associated with Musculoskeletal Extracutaneous Manifestations in Pediatric and Adult Morphea: A Prospective, Cohort Study.” This research is specifically focused on Morphea and its related effects on pediatric and adult populations.

News You Need

UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Now Offers Walk-In Behavioral Health Services in Lawrenceville

UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, in collaboration with UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital, opened a pediatric behavioral health walk-in clinic where patients up to age 18 can be seen for a variety of behavioral health concerns.

The Pediatric Behavioral Health Walk-In Clinic, located on the third floor of the main hospital, offers a welcoming and comfortable environment for children and teens with a mental health concern to get expert care. 

Therapists and psychologists will be available to see patients for targeted behavioral health assessments from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

Along with a parent or guardian, children and teens can walk in and receive same day care, with no appointment required to have a one-time therapeutic intervention and connect the patient to behavioral health resources.

“As the new school year begins, many children and teens can be stressed, anxious, or even struggling with their classes, which can cause parents to worry,” said Abigail Schlesinger, M.D., clinical chief of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and Integrated Care at UPMC Western and UPMC Children’s. “We are here to help families through this and during any period of their child’s life. This clinic will offer support and partner with the child’s existing care team to continue providing safe resources at home and in the community.”

In addition to the walk-in clinic, UPMC Children’s supports behavioral health in a variety of ways including clinical evaluators in the emergency department where they assist the medical team in providing assessments and resources for patients and families. Also, the behavioral science division psychologists are embedded in the inpatient and outpatient settings, and a behavioral health nurse clinician works with inpatients.

“Improving access to behavioral health for our children and teens is a priority at UPMC Children’s as the numbers are steadily increasing for this age group seeking this type of support,” said Diane Hupp, president of UPMC Children’s Hospital. “We want this to be another way for families to seek care in a pediatric setting and allow children and teens to feel safe to talk about any concern they may have.”

The walk-in clinic does not replace Psychiatric Emergency Services (PES) and is not appropriate for children who might need to be hospitalized. Individuals who are experiencing an extreme mental health crisis are encouraged to seek immediate medical attention at PES in UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital or at the nearest emergency department.

30 Years of the Cone Procedure: UPMC Children’s Celebrates Milestone Commemorative Program

On August 28, the Heart Institute at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh celebrated the invention of the cone procedure to treat Ebstein’s anomaly with a special CME-accredited program in Washington D.C. as cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons gathered for the concurrently held 8th World Congress of Pediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery.

The event featured lectures and presentations from José Pedro Da Silva, MD, Luciana Da Fonseca Da Silva, MD, and also Heart Institute leadership and faculty, including Jacqueline Kreutzer, MDVictor O. Morell, MD, and Tarek Alsaied, MD, MS.

Dr. Da Silva gave a lecture titled “Evolution of the Cone Procedure: Where We Started and How Far We Have Come,” and Dr. Da Fonseca Da Silva gave a talk on “Novel Approaches to Surgical Management of Ebstein’s Anomaly: From Neonate to Adult

A Brief History of the Cone Procedure

Three decades ago, In 1993, José Pedro da Silva, MD, created the cone technique to repair Ebstein’s anomaly, a rare congenital heart disease (CHD). In patients with Ebstein’s anomaly, the tricuspid valve (TV) is malformed and displaced inside of the right ventricle (RV). This displacement and malformation cause tricuspid regurgitation into the right atrium. The cone procedure creates a durable repair using the patient’s own tissue, which creates a TV capable of appropriate growth.

It is safe to say that the invention of the cone procedure created a revolution in surgical repair for this serious form of CHD. Now, the cone technique is considered the worldwide gold standard of treatment for Ebstein’s anomaly.

Since 1993, Dr. da Silva, alongside Luciana da Fonseca da Silva, MD, PhD, have performed more than 360 cone procedures on patients of all ages and achieve excellent outcomes. They travel around the world to perform this procedure and share their knowledge and expertise with other physicians.

Read more details about the cone procedure’s creation and evolution in an article on the Da Silva Center for Ebstein’s Anomaly website.

Referring physicians can get in touch with the Da Silva Center by email at, by phone at 412-692-5218, or through our online form.

UPMC Center for Rare Disease Therapy Webinar Series

Join experts from the Center for Rare Disease Therapy at UPMC Children’s for webinars for providers, parents, and caregivers of children with a rare inherited disorder. Learn more here.

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