Pediatric INSIGHTS, Spring 2023

A Collaborative Approach to Care

LorenzoAt a 20-week ultrasound appointment in their hometown of Harrisburg, Megan and Philip’s son, Lorenzo, was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS). Although their doctor told the parents-to-be that Lorenzo wouldn’t make it, Megan and Philip were determined to give their son the best chance at life.

They saw Sunil Patel, MD, a pediatric cardiologist and adult congenital heart disease specialist at UPMC Harrisburg. He connected Megan and Philip with Victor Morell, MD, chief of the Division of Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery at UPMC Children’s and co-director of the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute, and the team at the Heart Institute at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh to coordinate Lorenzo’s delivery and next stages in care.

Read Lorenzo’s story.

Top Accolades

UPMC Children’s Hospital President Diane Hupp Named to City and State PA's 2023 Health Care Power 100 List

Diane HuppUPMC Children’s Hospital president Diane Hupp, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, was recently named to City and State PA's 2023 Health Care Power 100 list.

The Health Care Power 100 is “a reflection of the importance of the people who are framing, influencing, and trying to change the conversation around one of Pennsylvania’s most crucial economic sectors”: healthcare.

Her profile reads: "Thirty-six years after Diane Hupp began her career at UPMC Children’s Hospital as a volunteer, she became president last year. In the interim, Hupp, who has a doctorate in nursing from Pitt, served for two decades in clinical and administrative leadership roles, including as chief nursing officer and vice president of operations. She led UPMC to a Magnet designation – the nursing field’s top rating – and spearheaded UPMC’s collaborations with other health systems to expand the pediatric East Coast Transplant Network."

UPMC Children’s Hospital Named 2022 Tree Campus® Healthcare Institution by the Arbor Day Foundation

UPMC Children's Named a 2022 Tree Campus Healthcare InstitutionUPMC Children’s has been named a 2022 Tree Campus® Healthcare Institution by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to planting, nurturing, and celebrating trees.

The Tree Campus Healthcare program, now in its fourth year, aims to transform community health and ultimately save lives through trees. It also recognizes healthcare institutions that make an impact on wellness through tree planting, education, and community engagement.

To receive recognition, UPMC Children’s met five annual standards, which include:

  • Maintaining a tree advisory committee
  • Having a facility tree care plan
  • Completing a community forestry project
  • Educating the community on the importance of trees
  • Investing in a campus tree program

The Arbor Day Foundation is the world’s largest membership nonprofit organization dedicated to planting trees.

Empowering Teens to Thrive Violence Intervention Program at UPMC Children’s Receives $1.2M Grant

In January, the Empowering Teens to Thrive (ET3) Program, a hospital-based violence intervention and community-based mentorship program at UPMC Children’s Hospital, was awarded $1.2M in grant funding from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) through their 2022-23 Violence Intervention and Prevention (VIP) grant initiative.

Funds through the PCCD VIP grant will support expansion of the ET3 team including:

  • A hospital/clinical ET3 liaison to provide support to teens and families at the bedside and coordinate ET3 referrals across the UPMC health system.
  • Two ET3 community liaisons to support teens and families in their neighborhoods and to coordinate referrals with the Cure Violence and school-based programs.
  • A lead community mentor.
  • Additional ET3 community mentors.

The funding will also support:

  • Expanded services for caregivers of injured teens through caregiver support groups.
  • Mentor-mentee engagement activities.
  • An annual back to school event.
  • Stipends for immediate needs.
  • Professional development for the ET3 team.

The ET3 Program is strategically embedded within UPMC Children’s Center for Adolescent and Young Adult Health (CAYAH), an integrated medical and behavioral health services outpatient clinic. The Program supports youth who are injured or impacted by community violence and their families in Allegheny County, Pa. Grounded in healing-centered approaches, ET3 includes 4 core components tailored to youth’s and family’s individualized needs and goals:

  1. Safety planning
  2. Psychological support and linkage to embedded and/or community-based mental health services
  3. System navigation and linkage to social services
  4. The ET3 community-based mentoring program.

The ET3 Program works in collaboration with the Allegheny County Department of Human Services (ACDHS) and the Allegheny County Health Department Office of Violence Prevention (ACHD OVP), synergizing services with the ecosystem of school and community-based violence prevention initiatives within Allegheny County.

“Partnering with youth and families in the aftermath of violence is a tremendous privilege,” says Alison Culyba, MD, PhD, MPH, adolescent medicine physician and director of the ET3 Program. “Through our program, we strive to provide youth with the support and services they deserve to promote healing and recovery. We are thrilled for the opportunity to grow our team so that we can support more teens and families in our region.”

Learn more about the ET3 program on the UPMC Children’s website.

Regional News: Western Maryland

Pediatric Speech Therapy Now Offered at UPMC Children’s Specialty Care Center Cumberland

UPMC Children’s, in partnership with UPMC Western Maryland, is proud to announce that we are now accepting referrals for pediatric speech therapy at UPMC Children’s Specialty Care Center Cumberland.

Our speech-language pathologists hold certificates of clinical competency from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and are licensed by the state of Maryland to treat children struggling with development of speech, language, and swallowing abilities. 

At the Center, we can perform evaluations to determine if a child’s speech and language are within normal limits for his or her age. The evaluation covers language understanding, language planning, and speech sound production, as well as the smoothness, rate, and effort of speech production.

Outpatient treatment provides a comprehensive intervention specifically tailored to a child’s needs. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to observe and participate in treatment sessions, allowing for better home-based practice with the child between therapy sessions.

“We are so excited to provide our community with additional pediatric outpatient care options to meet the needs of local children with speech and language differences, along with swallowing and feeding needs,” says Kimberly Whetsel, MHA, OTR/L, director, Rehabilitation and Wound Care Services, UPMC Western Maryland.

To refer a patient for speech therapy services, please call 240-964-1800 (option 1). To refer a patient for any other services at UPMC Children’s Specialty Care Center Cumberland, please call 412-692-7337.

New to UPMC Children’s Specialty Care Center Cumberland: Gastroenterology Procedures

As of April 3, Whitney Sunseri, MD, pediatric gastroenterologist, is now performing common gastrointestinal (GI) procedures and scopes – including esophagogastroduodenoscopies (EGDs) and colonoscopies – at our UPMC Children’s Specialty Care Center Cumberland location. These new offerings are in addition to the gastrointestinal evaluations and follow up care that have been offered at the Center since opening in 2021.

To schedule, please call 412-692-5180. However, please note that, at this time, scheduling for these procedures is limited to internal referrals by Dr. Sunseri. We hope to expand scheduling for procedures in the near future.

Other UPMC Children’s Services Available in Western Maryland

In addition to our new speech therapy services and gastroenterology procedures, UPMC Children’s Specialty Care Center Cumberland offers Western Maryland residents convenient access to outpatient services including diagnostic evaluations and follow up care from nationally ranked pediatric specialists in:

  • Cardiology
  • Endocrinology 
  • Gastroenterology
  • Nephrology
  • Neurology

UPMC Children’s Specialty Care Center Cumberland is located in the UPMC Johnson Heights Medical Building at 625 Kent Ave., Suite 102, Cumberland, MD, 21502. For more information, please visit UPMC Children's Specialty Care Center Cumberland or call 240-964-4288.

Digital Health News

Online Scheduling a Priority for UPMC Children’s

In an ongoing effort to improve access to UPMC Children’s clinical services for our patients and families, the hospital has worked to make it easier for individuals to figure out just how to schedule their care online. Here are three recent updates to the UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh website.

The carousel on the home page of our UPMC Children's Hospital was updated to drive directly to Online Scheduling under “Find Care.”

Schedule an Appointment >> circled

A “Schedule an Appointment” option appears under the For Parents section.

Schedule an Appointment circled

And a “Search and Schedule” option has been added to Our Services.

Search and Schedule >> circled

Those links all direct patients and families to UPMC Providers page, where they can search for a pediatrician or pediatric specialist and make an appointment.

UPMC Children’s Hospital Foundation News

Saturday June 3 Walk for Children's Every Step Counts

Walk for Children’s – Every Step Counts!

Join us on June 3 to Walk for Children’s! Whether you join us in-person at Schenley Park or walk from where you are, when it comes to the healthy futures that every child deserves, every step counts. To learn more visit the Walk for Children's event page.

Grantmakers’ Meeting

Join us on May 24 at Nova Place for this year’s Grantmakers Meeting. The signature event of the Children’s Trust aims provide grants to young investigators at UPMC Children’s. The Children’s Trust is an exclusive group of rising philanthropists interested in supporting UPMC Children’s most promising researchers. By pooling charitable resources, members directly impact the lives of children here in Pittsburgh and beyond by advancing pediatric research. This year, guests will hear pitches from four researchers, then vote to award two grants totaling $100,000. To learn more about this event and the Children’s Trust, email Katie Mcgregor at

Grantmakers' Meeting Children's Trust Signature Event - Hear the research Pitches and Cast Your Vote


Changes Coming to the Physician Liaison Program

Recently, the physician liaison team at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh made a subtle, but beneficial, change to our program. Our program is now called the Pediatric and Family Medicine Practice Liaison Program. This name both better represents our referring physicians as a group and signifies a more inclusive cohort of professionals.

Heather Brinza, RNCommunication is important as the Pediatric and Family Liaison Program continues to strive for healthy relationships among physicians, liaisons, and UPMC Children’s. Our regional and local liaisons will contact all referring physicians shortly to welcome any questions and concerns, discuss program development and structure moving forward, and update any information regarding physicians and their practices.

Nikki Walker, RNHeather Brinza (left) and Nikki Walker (right), our two regional liaisons, will be heavily involved in providing support to our referring physicians.

Updates to the Referring Physician section of the UPMC Children’s website are ongoing.

Please reach out with any questions, concerns, or suggestions.

Andy Urbach, MD

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


Laurels for Our Staff

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

Silva Arslanian, MD, pediatric endocrinologist at UPMC Children’s, was named a recipient of the 2023 Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Diabetes Research Award by the American Diabetes Association (ADA). This prestigious award is part of the annual National Scientific and Healthcare Achievement Awards from the ADA, which honor academics, health care providers, and educators who have contributed to substantial advances in the field of diabetes care and research. Rarely awarded to providers of care in pediatric populations, the award recognizes her exceptional contributions in patient-oriented clinical research that have had a significant impact on diabetes prevention and treatment. The ADA specifically credits her work as considerably expanding knowledge of the “pathophysiological mechanisms of youth-onset type 2 diabetes, the rapid deterioration in β-cell function, and the impaired incretin effect through detailed investigations of insulin sensitivity and β-cell function during childhood growth and development in health and disease.

Dr. Arslanian was also had an article entitled Once Weekly Semaglutide in Adolescents with Obesity published in The New England Journal of Medicine, last November. The article explores the effect of a once-weekly drug on adolescents with obesity. Further research into adolescent obesity and diabetes is ongoing in the Department of PediatricsCenter for Pediatric Research in Obesity and Metabolism (CPROM), of which Dr. Arslanian is the director.

Dana Fuhrman, DO, MS, co-director of the Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy (CRRT) Program and associate program director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Medicine Fellowship at UPMC Children’s, was the lead author of a study published in Pediatric Nephrology that was designed to identify the current practices in pediatric continuous kidney replacement therapy (CKRT) and to develop a consensus on the best practices for its use and future areas of inquiry that may lead to further refinements or improvements of the use of this therapy in children.

Jacqueline Ho, MD, MSc, chief of the Division of Pediatric Nephrology at UPMC Children’s, was recently elected to the Society of Pediatric Research (SPR) Council as the nephrology representative. The SPR is a national organization that works to promote research, mentoring, and communications among researchers from institutions across the country. The ultimate goal of the SPR is to improve children’s health and wellness nationally by fostering the growth of a diverse network of multi-disciplinary researchers, clinicians, and scientists. Council members are elected to 3-year terms and are typically nominated by other SPR members, indicating that an election to the SPR Council demonstrates significant admiration for a researcher’s work in their given field by their peers. Dr. Ho’s research program is focused on understanding the role of microRNAs in kidney development and disease. Her recent research has demonstrated that microRNAs are involved in regulating the proliferation and survival of nephron progenitors in the developing kidney, which can affect subsequent kidney health in children and adults. During her term on the SPR Council, Dr. Ho hopes to focus on the development of the training of physician-scientists nationally as they grow into specialties and subspecialties.

In January, Traci Kazmerski, MD, MS, pediatric pulmonologist at UPMC Children’s, was appointed training director of the Research Training Program for Pediatric Subspecialty Fellows in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. In this role, Dr. Kazmerski will work closely with other Department of Pediatrics leadership to identify, mentor, and foster the careers of future leaders in pediatric research who are dedicated to improving child health through discovery. A consummate physician-scientist, Dr. Kazmerski leads an investigative team focused on examining new ways to improve the comprehensive care of persons with pediatric-onset chronic conditions, with a particular focus on cystic fibrosis (CF). Her work in CF and sexual and reproductive health has received continual funding from the CF Foundation and National Institutes of Health. She is chair of the UPMC Children’s Hospital Transition Task Force and has received funding from the University of Pittsburgh to collaborate with the Schools of Medicine, Law, Social Work, and Education to better understand successful transition to adulthood. Dr. Kazmerski has mentored learners at all levels and has a strong interest in physician-scientist career development. Dr. Kazmerski started in her new role on January 1, 2023.

After serving as the interim director since the beginning of 2022, Jen Kloesz, MD, FAAP, was appointed permanent director of the Division of Newborn Medicine at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. She began her new responsibilities on April 1. Dr. Kloesz has been a faculty member in the Division of Newborn Medicine since 2004 and been actively involved in medical education and hospital administration throughout her career. She served as associate program director and program director of the Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine Fellowship Program for 17 years and participated in several committees for the Pediatric Residency Program. Dr. Kloesz also supervised the clinical care provided in the UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital NICU as the medical director from 2009 to 2021 and represents the Department of Pediatrics on multiple hospital committees.

In March, Elizabeth Miller, MD, PhD, FAAP, chief of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at UPMC Children’s, was awarded the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (PA AAP) Inaugural DEI Champion Award. This award was established to recognize an individual who champions diversity, equity, and inclusion in the field of pediatric health care in Pennsylvania. Dr. Miller earned the award because of her career-long commitment to advancing child health equity through clinical practice, advocacy, and research.

Mousumi Moulik, MD, director of the Pediatric Cardiovascular Genetics Clinic at UPMC Children's Hospital, was appointed co-director of the Pediatric Scientist Development Program (PedSDP) in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Sylvia Owusu-Ansah, MD, MPH, FAAP, EMS Medical Director and co-lead of the CHAMP program at UPMC Children’s, will be honored at Pittsburgh Magazine's Women & Business Awards event on April 12. Dr. Owusu-Ansah is one of only a few doctors in the country who is a pediatrician, pediatric emergency medicine physician, and emergency medical services physician. Among other accolades, she is being recognized for her leadership and commitment to inclusion and diversity beyond the hospital and classroom. You can read her profile here.

Udai Pandey, PhD, was appointed director of the Children’s Neuroscience Institute (CNI) at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Dr. Pandey completed his Ph.D. training at the Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences followed by postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Pennsylvania and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He joined the faculty at UPMC Children’s Hospital in 2014. In his role as CNI Director, Dr. Pandey will develop and foster initiatives to facilitate neuroscience research at UPMC Children’s Hospital and serve as a bridge between research and clinical faculty. He aims to bring together investigators with interdisciplinary expertise to advance mechanistic understanding of normal brain development, identifying pathogenic pathways responsible for neurological diseases and discovering personalized treatment strategies for children. Through the CNI, he will offer a collaborative environment, research resources, seed funding, visiting speakers, and training opportunities for postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty members, with an intentional focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Dr. Pandey began his new responsibilities on March 1, 2023.

Former UPMC Children’s pediatric resident and pediatric rheumatology fellow Catherine Poholek, MD, PhD, joined the UPMC Children’s Pediatric Rheumatology faculty in July of 2022. She is currently an instructor of Pediatrics in the Division of Rheumatology and an early career physician scientist, Dr. Poholek completed her bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame and received a master’s degree in Teaching at Pace University. She went on to earn her medical degree and doctorate in Immunology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she studied the role of interleukin-21 in intestinal health and disease.

In March, Maya Ragavan, MD, MPH, MS, pediatrician and researcher in the Division of General Academic Pediatrics at UPMC Children’s, was named a recipient of the 2023 Pitt Sustainability Award. The award recognizes Pitt faculty, staff, students, and groups who are making an extraordinary impact on campus sustainability through the relevant aims of the Pitt Sustainability Plan. These individuals or groups are celebrated for their contributions to a thriving culture of sustainability at Pitt through their ideas, talents, and passions.

Deepa Rajan, MD, clinical director of the Program for the Study of Neurodevelopment in Rare Disorders at UPMC Children's, was recently appointed chair of the Neurogenetics Section of the American Academy of Neurology. Dr. Rajan recently described a new neurogenetic disorder of the GEMIN5 gene and was awarded a grant from The Scleroderma Foundation alongside Kathryn Torok, MD, for their project called “Are Somatic Mutations Underlying Craniofacial Scleroderma Phenotypes.”

Kristin Ray, MD, MS, FAAP, pediatrician, health services researcher, and clinical informatician in the Division of General Academic Pediatrics at UPMC Children’s, was selected as one of the Health Sciences Ascending Star awardees for 2023 from the University of Pittsburgh. This award was established in 2022 to recognize highly productive, creative mid-career faculty members within the six Schools of Health Sciences. Ray was selected out of 17 nominees for this award that is also accompanied by a grant for research support and a widely publicized lecture during the remainder of the current calendar year. In February, she was also published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. The article is entitled, “Access to What for Whom? How Care Delivery Innovations Impact Health Equity.”

Claire Seguin, MD, pediatrician in the Paul C. Gaffney Division of Pediatric Hospital Medicine at UPMC Children’s, was awarded an Implementation Lab Pilot Award (ILPA) from the Pitt Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) for her project, “Improving Pediatric Discharge Processes to Increase Timely, Family-Centered and Resource-Efficient Care.” The CTSI Implementation Lab aims to connect researchers with health care leaders and policymakers to implement partner-defined priority evidence-based practices. The pilot awards will support new or ongoing research that uses D&I methods to support the adoption, implementation or maintenance of an evidence-based practice or program in the setting of an existing health operation and focused on a specific need as defined by the UPMC CHP Primary Care Center, Children’s Community Pediatrics, or the Wolf Center. The award period of these awards is spread out over 12 months.

In January,Srinivasan Suresh, MD, MBA, FAAP, vice president, chief information officer, and chief medical information officer at UPMC Children's, was awarded a 2023 HIMSS Senior Executive Changemaker Award from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). The Changemaker in Health Awards celebrate inspirational and innovative healthcare leaders for their relentless pursuit to improve care by harnessing the power of information and technology.

Dr. Suresh was instrumental in UPMC Children’s winning the HIMSS Davies Award of Excellence and maintaining HIMSS Stage 7 recognition on EMRAM and O-EMRAM. An informatics researcher, he leads multidisciplinary teams in applying business intelligence (measurably enhance healthcare for children), and in implementing robust clinical decision support tools (improve quality outcomes and control costs).

In February, three UPMC Children’s physicians were recognized with University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Teaching Awards at the 2023 Curriculum Colloquium:

  • Taylor Abel, MD, from Pediatric Neurosurgery was awarded The Donald S. Fraley Award for Medical Student Mentoring.
  • Aimee Biller, MD, from General Academic Pediatrics was awarded the Clerkship Preceptor of the Year.
  • Melissa Tavarez, MD, MS, from Emergency Medicine was awarded The William I. Cohen Award for Excellence in Clinical Skills Instruction. Dr. Tavarez was also recently appointed as the Association of Pediatric Program Directors (APPD) Fellowship Directors’ Executive Committee At-Large Member. Dr. Tavarez was elected by the Fellowship Directors to serve a three-year term in this important leadership position. To ensure the health and well-being of all children, APPD serves pediatric programs by leading the advancement of medical education, the development of a diverse workforce, the cultivation of an inclusive clinical learning environment, and promotion of educational innovation and research.

News You Need

UPMC Children’s Hospital Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit Opens New, Expanded Unit at Children’s Main Hospital in Lawrenceville

In February, the UPMC Children’s Hospital Rehabilitation Unit (CHRU) relocated from its previous space at the Children's Home of Pittsburgh, just up the road to the hospital's main campus in Lawrenceville.

The space will offer 12 private patient rooms, state of the art gym equipment, private treatment rooms, and a family area.

"Hundreds of children, teens and young adults will benefit from our inpatient rehab unit each and every year," said Diane Hupp, President of UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. "We are one of a few in the state of Pennsylvania that have such an extraordinary inpatient pediatric rehab unit."

The CHRU was recently issued a full three-year accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).

View photos of the new space here.

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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