Our Heritage

UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh has long been a pioneer in pediatric medicine, and research propels every forward stride. While there have been many important milestones along the way, the pace of research-driven progress at Children’s is today accelerating at an unprecedented pace. Listed below is a timeline of some of our more significant research achievements.

  • 1955 The headlines read, “Polio Victory,” and millions of people rejoiced at news that Dr. Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine was proven safe and effective. Salk’s research in Pittsburgh led to the eradication of polio, a disease that killed or crippled so many children.
  • 1962 The unique General Clinical Research Center was established at Children’s to increase medical knowledge about childhood diseases and improve the management and treatment of these diseases.
  • 1970s Many congenital heart problems that once required open-chest surgery can now be corrected with local anesthesia and a tiny razor-like blade developed by Sang Park, MD. The Park Blade Catheter procedure can benefit one in 10 babies born with heart defects in the United States.
  • 1970s The collaboration between juvenile diabetes expert Allan Drash, MD, from Children’s and Lewis Kuller of the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health result in the creation of North America’s largest active diabetes clinic, housing more data on diabetes that any other institution.
  • 1980s The most common operative procedure for children is tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. Research conducted by Jack Paradise, MD, may proves instrumental nationally in the reduction of unwarranted surgery by determining under which circumstances the procedures are beneficial.
  • 1986 Children’s NIH-funded research exceeds $2 million for the first time.
  • 1990 The John G. Rangos Sr. Research Center was dedicated, a nine-story building that serves as the hub of Children’s pediatric basic research for nearly two decades.
  • 1994 The genetic trait that makes individuals prone to insulin-dependent diabetes is identified by Massimo Trucco, MD, whose discovery may enable physicians to identify infants at risk for developing diabetes, and children with diabetes may be able to be treated before they ever experience symptoms.
  • 1990s Thomas Foley, MD, developed the Neonatal Screening for Congenital Hypothyroidism, which is now mandated in many countries. The simple screening test conducted at birth enables immediate treatment that can spare children irreversible mental retardation.
  • 1990s The research of Charles Bluestone, MD, leads to better treatment methods for middle ear disease. In many cases an inexpensive antibiotic eliminates the need for surgery in children.
  • 2000 The state-of-the-art John G. Rangos Sr.—Massimo M. Trucco, MD, Diabetes Research Laboratory is opened, providing a dedicated resource for local investigators searching for a cure for juvenile diabetes.
  • 2001 NIH-funded research at Children’s exceeds $10 million for the first time.
  • 2000s David Orenstein, MD, pioneered the study of exercise physiology in children with cystic fibrosis (CF) and is the national authority on exercise in people with CF. He also was among the first to address the quality of life for children with CF, and his research into improving care ranges from specific antibiotics to alternatives for traditional physical therapy to patient function following heart-lung transplantation.
  • 2005 Research by Jay Kolls, MD, leads to development of a vaccine platform that may be effective in preventing viral illnesses such as influenza, in high-risk, immune-deficient individuals.
  • 2006 Children’s ground-breaking General Clinical Research Center becomes the Pediatric Clinical and Translational Research Center, part of a new network of sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.
  • 2007 Children’s receives a $23 million gift from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to form the Richard King Mellon Foundation Institute for Pediatric Research.
  • 2008 The magnificent new John G. Rangos Research Center opens at Children’s new hospital campus in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh.