Your health can’t wait. Learn how we’re making our facilities safer and schedule your care now.
Children's Hospital is part of the UPMC family.
Be safe anytime, anywhere.
To find a pediatrician or pediatric specialist, please call 412-692-7337 or search our directory.
A resource for our network of referring physicians.
For more information about research, please call our main office at 412-692-6438.
Ranked #9 Nationally by U.S. News & World Report.
The Division of Pediatric Rheumatology at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh has an active basic research program that explores fundamental issues of rheumatic disease critically important to the development of safer and more effective therapies for children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and other rheumatic conditions.
Basic research includes National Institutes of Health-funded laboratories of Abbe de Vallejo, PhD and Kathryn Torok, MD. Dr. de Vallejo‘s research program is in the area of Immunobiology of inflammatory syndromes and aging. Dr. Torok’s research is on the biology of pediatric scleroderma.
Because of the rapid degeneration of the thymus after birth, there is an age-dependent lack of replenishment of new naïve T-cells. Due to antigenic challenge throughout life, the T-cell pool is therefore susceptible to aging, which can contribute to higher risk of infections, malignancies, and autoimmunity as people grow older. In view of shared immunological phenotypes between the elderly and patients with inflammatory syndromes, Dr. de Vallejo is a proponent of the hypothesis that immune exhaustion and replicative senescence in the immune system underlies immune abnormalities related to age and disease. Inflammatory diseases currently being studied are JIA, juvenile dermatomyositis, and adult rheumatoid arthritis. Biology of aging studies currently being pursued is the immunology of successful aging, and an animal model of longevity.
His laboratory is investigating various aspects pertaining to immune cell replicative senescence, the immunobiology and health outcomes of aging, the biology of rheumatic diseases and T-cell homeostasis. With the implication of multigene families, such as the MHC, KIR, and NKG in the development of various inflammatory diseases and in the ontogeny of senescent lymphocytes, other projects are also designed to examine the differential regulation and molecular phylogeny of multigene families.
Localized scleroderma (LS), also known as ‘morphea’, is a potentially disfiguring autoimmune disease of the skin and underlying tissue affecting both children and adults, with the highest impact in childhood-onset disease. Disease activity leads to fibrosis and atrophy, causing potential physical and psychological disability that continues throughout childhood into adulthood. A type of immune cell, T-helper (Th) cells, and their associated cytokines (inflammatory proteins) have been found to contribute significantly to the disease process in systemic sclerosis (SSc), the other form of scleroderma. Their effect is supported by the presence of cytokines from these lineages in the sera (blood), peripheral blood cells (immune cells), and tissue (skin and other organs) in scleroderma patients. A better understanding of the inflammatory proteins involved in localized scleroderma, especially during the active inflammatory phase, would lead toward more directed and efficacious therapies. This concept is currently being investigated at the University of Pittsburgh with Dr. Kathryn Torok, MD as the Principal Investigator.
Dr. Torok directs the University of Pittsburgh Childhood Scleroderma Clinic, which is held 4 times a month. On average, 25 pediatric patients with localized scleroderma are seen in clinic each month (including 2 new patients). Patients seen at the Childhood Scleroderma Clinic can also participate in a research registry and ‘serumbank’, which includes the collection of the following biological specimens: serum, plasma, peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), RNA, DNA and skin biopsy specimens. Clinic visits include sufficient time for detailed examination and standardized data collection of outcome measures. At present there are 370 patients enrolled in the registry; 160 with complete clinical data and stored serum, and 70 patients with 3 or more serum samples from different time points. Repeat blood collection allows for the analysis of the change of the cytokine profile as the disease transitions from active to inactive disease with systemic immune-modulatory therapy (prednisone, methotrexate, mycophenolate mofetil, etc.).
Dr. Torok also collaborates with other institutions internationally by serving as a core member of the pediatric localized scleroderma group within the Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance (CARRA) and the Localized Scleroderma Clinical and Ultrasound Study group (LOCUS). These multicenter studies further evaluate clinical, thermal, and ultrasound measures regarding disease activity and damage parameters, collect biological specimens, and evaluate treatment regimens in pediatric localized scleroderma. Two of these large studies have a specific longitudinal focus on biologic specimens, in which the University of Pittsburgh serves as the repository for biologic specimen processing and storage center. These projects also collect the same clinical outcome measures of activity and damage in LS as those collected at the University of Pittsburgh, therefore allowing a direct comparison of biological specimens and associated clinical status between centers.
Dr. Torok’s long-term goal is to utilize the above resources to ultimately improve the quality of life in patients with localized scleroderma (LS) by minimizing the burden of disease damage. Understanding which key inflammatory mediators are present during the active phase of disease may foster the development of more effective therapies in LS.
Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
In addition to the main hospital, Children's has many convenient locations in other neighborhoods throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.
With myCHP, you can request appointments, review test results, and more.
For questions about a hospital bill call:
To pay your bill online, please visit UPMC's online bill payment system.
Interested in giving to Children's Hospital? Support the hospital by making a donation online, joining our Heroes in Healing monthly donor program, or visiting our site to learn about the other ways you can give back.