Surgery Research — Pediatric and General Thoracic

The research projects by the Division of Pediatric General and Thoracic Surgery at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh include a variety of significant lab- and clinic-based initiatives.
Among the research projects underway is an examination of the basic mechanisms by which cells lining the intestine become damaged, resulting in necrotizing enterocolitis, an inflammation causing injury to the bowel of premature babies. Results of these studies may help doctors treat children with intestinal disorders, such as Crohn’s disease, colitis and ulcers.

Researchers are also engaged in studies comparing minimally invasive laparoscopy to more traditional surgical techniques for certain types of infantile conditions; use of blood transfusions in pediatric trauma patients; and traumatic injury prevention. Other research is focused on pancreatic development, with a goal of understanding the mechanisms behind the differentiation of pancreatic precursor cells so as to engineer stem cells into cells that make insulin for the treatment of diabetes. Along similar lines, studies of the way in which intestine and the nerves inside the intestine form are also being conducted, so that we may better understand ways in which we may treat intestinal diseases such as atresia and Hirschsprung’s disease.

Children’s scientists are also investigating the production of specific proteins by cancer cells and the effects these proteins have on the cancer cells and the body’s response to the tumor. This work is focused on childhood tumors and cancers and those proteins that are important in the body’s immune response.

Also under study is the way in which the lung and blood vessels form together normally and in a devastating lung condition called congenital diaphragmatic hernia. Here researchers hope to develop techniques to better diagnose the problem early, particularly with regard to the severity and prognosis, and also to possibly better treat the problem through interventions prior to birth.

The Pediatric Surgical Division also includes the Benedum Pediatric Trauma Center, the only pediatric Level I (highest level) trauma program in western Pennsylvania and one of the busiest trauma centers in the country. The Benedum Pediatric Trauma Center seeks to continuously promote excellence in research, pediatric trauma care and injury prevention.


Clinical Studies

"DHREAMS" Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Study

Diaphragmatic Hernia Research & Exploration, Advancing Molecular Science (DHREAMS)

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Pediatric Traumatic Injury Study

Trauma Recidivism in the Pediatric Population

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Additional Researchers

Farzad Esni, PhD
Xiangwei Xiao, MD, PhD