Pediatric INSIGHTS, Winter 2022

Grace Brueggman

Light at the End of the Tunnel

When she's not studying to earn her master's degree in Robotics Systems Development, you can find Grace Brueggman leading an active lifestyle — rock climbing, skiing, playing tennis, or doing yoga.

What you wouldn't know if you saw her today is that Grace overcame some major hip problems with the help of UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh's Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Hip Preservation Program. Read more about Grace's story and the AYA Hip Preservation program.

Also In This Issue

  • NORD recognizes UPMC Children's Center for Rare Disease Therapy as a Center of Excellence.
  • Andrew Urbach, MD, medical director for Patient Experience and Development, highlights physicians' role in reducing readmissions.
  • Amid several other highly successful fundraising events this year, the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation's Radiothon raised more than $1 million over three days in September. This made it one of the top three radiothons in the U.S.

New UPMC Children’s President Announced

Diane S. Hupp, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, President, UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh

New President Named for UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh

On January 18, UPMC announced the appointment of Diane S. Hupp, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, as the new president of UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Ms. Hupp began her career at UPMC Children’s 36 years ago as a volunteer. Through the years, she served in various administrative leadership roles, to most recently serving in a dual role as chief nursing officer and vice president of Patient Care Services and vice president of Operations. Read the full press release about her appointment.

Top Accolades

UPMC Children's Pulmonary Medicine Division Receives Award from Cystic Fibrosis Foundation 

In October, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation recognized the Antonio J. and Janet Palumbo Cystic Fibrosis Center (CF Center) with a 2021 Outstanding Care Center Partnership Award.

Led by director Daniel J. Weiner, MD, FAAP, FCCP, ATSF, the CF Center is in the Division of Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine at UPMC Children's.

The award from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation recognizes care centers and teams that have collaborated with their local Cystic Fibrosis Foundation chapters to serve the needs of the greater cystic fibrosis community of patients, families, and communities.

Recipients of the award are selected based on various criteria, including:

  • Local collaboration efforts.
  • Engagement with local chapter programs and events.
  • Involvement of chapter staff in center-directed initiatives.

“The CF Center care team at UPMC is so fortunate to have engaged partners at the Western Pa. Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation," Dr. Weiner says. "They have worked hand in hand with us over the years as we work together toward a cure for cystic fibrosis — as we say, 'until it is done.'"

The CF Center received the award during the 2021 North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference in November.

Learn more about the CF Center at Children's.



UPMC Children's Center for Rare Disease Therapy Recognized as Center of Excellence 

National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) badgeIn November 2021, the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) recognized the Center for Rare Disease Therapy at UPMC Children's as a Rare Disease Center of Excellence.

The center joins a highly selective group of 31 medical centers across the United States. They will collaborate on expanding access, advancing care, and pursuing cutting-edge research for children with rare diseases.

NORD's program selects centers for this recognition through an application process. It incorporates evidence of staffing with experts familiar with rare diseases and significant contributions to patient education, physician training, and research.



UPMC Children's Recognized as Hospital of the Month for Patient Safety

The Children's Hospitals' Solutions for Patient Safety Network (SPS) named UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh the December 2021 “Hospital of the Month."

SPS is the leading pediatric patient safety organization, focused on eliminating preventable harm in children's hospitals. The SPS collaborative consists of more than 130 children's hospitals from all over the country.

At UPMC Children's, our patient safety and quality teams ensure that the hospital is held to the highest of standards in patient safety. We have an unwavering commitment to teamwork and excellence as we closely monitor care and seek opportunities to improve.

We believe that quality and safety come from transparency and:

  • Consideration of patients and families alike.
  • The continued growth and education of our professionals.
  • Maintaining a progressive, cutting-edge approach to our world-renowned care.

Our participation with the SPS collaborative has helped us maintain this commitment.

UPMC Children's was selected as the December "Hospital of the Month" for three reasons:

  • Sustained reduction of preventable patient harm events.
  • Superb data submission of hospital-acquired conditions (HAC) outcomes.
  • Active support of network's All Teach/All Learn philosophy through participation in several network events to develop and implement harm prevention strategies.

Thank you to the Children's Hospitals' Solutions for Patient Safety Network for this honor!

Children's Hospital Foundation News

For the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation, 2021 was a year of firsts in fundraising for the needs of UPMC Children's Hospital, patients, and families.

The community — along with our doctors, nurses, and professional staff — played an integral part in creating miracles throughout the halls of our hospital in so many ways.

As we look forward to 2022, here's a recap of some of our signature events that brought the community together for some notable firsts:

  • Our first-ever combined in-person and virtual Walk for Children's saw walkers from 41 states come together to raise more than $800,000! Don't forget: You can register now for the 2022 Walk at!
  • The 14th Annual Children's Hospital Golf Classic held at Laurel Valley Golf Club in September raised $525,000, the highest total to date.
  • DVE Rocks Children's Radiothon 2021 raised more than $1,000,000 over three days in September. This makes our radiothon one of the top three in the nation!
  • The Free Care Fund Benefit Show on KDKA-TV celebrated its 68th broadcast in December. With the help of the KDKA-TV viewers, we raised over $1,424,000!

Start the new year by resolving to get involved with a foundation event or activity to raise funds and awareness for UPMC Children's. Visit to find out how you can Walk for Children's or become a monthly donor, and to learn more about the wonderful things happening every day at UPMC Children's.


Andy Urbach, MD

PCPs: Your Role in Reducing Readmissions

We have been successful at decreasing readmissions within seven days of the first hospitalization at UPMC Children's Hospital.

To accomplish this goal, we are using a computerized tool developed at UPMC to predict who is most likely to return for a readmission.

Now, as we look to decrease readmissions even further, we are asking for help from the physicians who refer patients to UPMC Children's.

Patients who are considered at high risk for readmission will be best served by seeing someone in their primary care office to:

  • Reinforce the discharge plan.
  • Ensure that all medications are filled and are being taken correctly.
  • Answer questions that may arise.

PCPs have a unique relationship with their patients. We believe this is an ideal way to reconnect and guarantee that they are safe and improving after hospitalization. We would like these high-risk patients to be seen within one to three days of discharge.

In some situations, a telehealth visit may work as well as an in-person visit and also may decrease the family's burden.

Families are encouraged to work with your office to schedule the appointment.

Please share this message with your APPs or physician assistants since they may be the PCP for the patient. At times, a care manager from Children's may contact your office to schedule the appointment on the family's behalf.

Andy Urbach, MD, is medical director for Patient Experience and Development at Children's. He welcomes your comments and questions. Please send an email too

Laurels for Our Staff

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

Taylor Abel, MD, of the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery, was named one of Pittsburgh Magazine's 40 Under 40 for 2021.

Silva Arslanian, MD, director of the Pediatric Clinical and Translational Research Center (PCTRC), scientific director of the Center for Pediatric Research in Obesity and Metabolism (CPROM), and Richard L. Day Professor of Pediatrics and Clinical and Translational Science, was recently awarded a multi-PI National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant aiming to study brain health in youth at risk for type 2 diabetes. Arslanian will lead a team of researchers at Pitt Pediatrics and UPMC Children's focusing on metabolism, obesity, and diabetes components.

In October, Kelly M. Bailey, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the Division of Hematology-Oncology, was elected to the Society for Pediatric Research (SPR). She also recently received the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Junior Scholar Award for Meritorious Basic Cancer Research for her research of Ewing sarcoma. In March, she received a National Cancer Institute K08 Career Development award to support further development of her critical research on Ewing sarcoma, a rare childhood cancer, and new treatment approaches. Her work will primarily focus on DNA damage repair and tumor immune response, specifically examining the ability of DNA damage to activate Ewing tumor cell immunoregulatory pathways.

In April, Carlton M. Bates, MD, vice chair of Basic Research, chief of the Division of Nephrology, and professor of Pediatrics, was appointed Physician Scientist Development Lead on the Executive Committee of the Council for the Society for Pediatric Research. The council is a leading national honorific organization devoted to creating a multidisciplinary network of diverse researchers to improve the health of children.

In May, Rachel P. Berger, MD, MPH, received the annual Helfer Society award, which is given annually to the member of the society who has made significant contributions to the field of child abuse pediatrics. More recently, Dr. Berger also received a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute grant to address clinical decision support system engagement.

Erica Braverman, MD, Pediatric Hematology-Oncology physician and instructor of Pediatrics, recently received a Young Investigator Award from Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation. This grant aims to improve pediatric immunotherapy cancer treatments, particularly CAR-T cell therapy, which has the potential to be more effective than traditional chemotherapy and eliminate associated long-term side effects. Braverman intends to study methods to control how T cells burn energy and use the information to make CAR-T cells better at destroying cancer cells, limiting chances of relapse.

Erick Forno, MD, MPH, director of UPMC Children's Pediatric Asthma Center, received the 2021 Gale and Ira Drukier Prize in Children's Health Research Award from Weill Cornell Medicine. The prize honors an early-career pediatrician whose research has made important contributions toward improving the health of children and adolescents. Dr. Forno was recognized for two specific research innovations: discovery of genomic markers linked to severe pediatric asthma and identification of a mismatch between lung volume and airway size in children with asthma and obesity.

Timothy W. Hand, PhD, assistant professor of Infectious Diseases and researcher, received a March of Dimes Foundation grant in June that will support the development and testing of a new monoclonal antibody to prevent the development of necrotizing enterocolitis, a devastating disease that leads to lifelong complications or death of low- birth-weight preterm infants. In May, he was also recognized as a 2021 "Investigator in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease" by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. He received $500,000 to support his research on immune cells of the intestine and how they respond to the first interactions with colonizing microorganisms.

Dwi Utami Kemaladewi, PhD, assistant professor of Pediatrics, received the highly competitive NIH New Innovator Award through the NIH "High-Risk, High-Reward" research program. She will lead a project investigating the implications of genetic diversity in muscular dystrophy.

In May, associate professor Bernhard Kühn, MD, was appointed to the NIH's "Basic Biology of Blood, Heart, and Vasculature" Study Section. He will review grant applications focused on basic molecular and cellular mechanisms and physiology of blood, heart, and vascular cells and tissues in normal and pathologic conditions.

In July, Elizabeth Miller, MD, PhD, FSAHM, chief of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at UPMC Children's, was appointed to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Board of Scientific Counselors, under the purview of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC). The board advises the CDC director, the secretary of Health and Human Services, and the NCIPC director on policies, strategies, and priorities surrounding injury and violence prevention.

Radhika H. Muzumdar, MD, chief of Pediatric Endocrinology at UPMC Children's, received an NIH R01 grant in September that will support her research of humanin (HN), a novel small peptide generated by mitochondria, and how HN treatment can improve cardiac function in myocardial ischemia-reperfusion (MI-R) injury or MI-induced heart failure.

Elise Peterson Lu, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Pediatrics, was appointed as a national correspondent for the Journal of Hospital Medicine in August and will serve on an editorial panel focusing on clinical care conundrums.

Amanda C. Poholek, PhD, assistant professor of Pediatrics and Immunology and researcher, received an American Lung Association innovation award in June. The award will support lung disease research conducted by postdoctoral fellow Kun He and graduate student Brinley Ford.

Ana Radovic, MD, MSc, assistant professor in the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, recently received a new NIH R21 grant to optimize mental health technology interventions for sexual and gender-minority youth (SGMY).

Maya Ragavan, MD, UPMC Children's pediatrician and assistant professor of Pediatrics, was recognized by Pittsburgh Magazine as a 2021 "40 Under 40" honoree. Dr. Ragavan was also selected as one of 12 physician leaders across the United States to serve as an inaugural Medical Justice in Advocacy Fellow by the American Medical Association and Satcher Health Leadership Institute. She will work with the association and institute to discuss solutions for health equity in underrepresented and underserved communities. She is well-known in the Pittsburgh area for her community engagement efforts on topics including intimate partner violence, language equity in research, and COVID-19 vaccine experiences among immigrants and refugees.

Brittani K.N. Seynnaeve, MD, MS, assistant professor in the Division of Hematology-Oncology, recently received a Melanoma Research Foundation grant.

Srinivasan Suresh, MD, MBA, FAAP, vice president, chief medical information officer, and chief medical information officer at UPMC Children's, was appointed chair of the Council on Clinical Information Technology within the American Academy of Pediatrics in September.

Jane B. Taylor, MD, MsCR, FAAP, associate professor in the Division of Pulmonology, received the annual Clinician Educator Award from the American Thoracic Society Pediatrics Assembly.

Gerard Vockley, MD, PhD, FACMG, director of the Division of Genetic and Genomic Medicine and Center for Rare Disease Therapy, recently received two grants to expand the development of new therapies for inborn errors of metabolism. The first grant, from Nestle Pharmaceuticals, will examine the efficacy of an orally administered enzyme substitution therapy for phenylketonuria (PKU), a disorder of protein metabolism that leaves patients unable to metabolize the amino acid phenylalanine. A second grant from Kriya Pharmaceuticals will go to the development of gene therapy for very long chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency, a defect in fat metabolism also identified in babies through newborn screening.

In September, four faculty members were elected to the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine's Academy of Master Educators:

  • Erika Friehling, MD, associate professor in the Division of Hematology-Oncology and associate vice chair of Faculty Development.
  • Andrew McCormick, MD, FAAP, associate professor in the Paul C. Gaffney Division of Pediatric Hospital Medicine.
  • Arvind Srinath, MD, MS, associate professor in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition.
  • Benjamin G. Miller, MD, associate professor and chief of the Paul C. Gaffney Division of Pediatric Hospital Medicine.

News You Need

That's Pediatrics Podcast UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh

The “That's Pediatrics" Podcast Series Is Back!

After a short hiatus, the “That's Pediatrics" podcast series will be back this spring with new hosts, tackling relevant pediatric health topics with our UPMC Children's experts. Visit the "That's Pediatrics" Podcast Series webpage to see our new hosts and learn more about how to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Youtube.


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