Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has been named one of nine core sites in the Pediatric Heart Network, a national network of leading hospitals and research institutions that works toward improving outcomes and quality of life for children with heart disease.
The Pediatric Heart Network (PHN) is funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which will support Washington University — named a core site together with Children’s Hospital Colorado — with $2.4 million over seven years.
The network targets pediatric heart diseases, particularly congenital heart disease in children and, more recently, in adults, unifying a somewhat fragmented research community. Over the past 22 years, the multicenter collaborative effort has supported 25 large studies, including 10 clinical trials, adding treatments and improving care for pediatric heart disease patients.
In the past, Washington University has been an auxiliary site for the network and was invited to participate when specific studies needed more patients. Now, as a core site, Washington University will participate in all PHN-led clinical studies and will have a seat at the table on the executive committee and all other PHN committees, helping to make decisions and shape the future of the network and its work.
Leading the new core site are Washington University’s Andrew C. Glatz, MD, the Louis Larrick Ward Professor of Pediatrics and director of the pediatric department’s cardiology division; and Jennifer N. Silva, MD, a professor of pediatrics in the cardiology division. From Children’s Hospital Colorado, the core site leaders are Shelley Miyamoto, MD, chief of pediatric cardiology; and Emily Bucholz, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of pediatrics. The two centers will work together as the Gateway to the West Consortium, with regular virtual and in-person meetings as well as a shared plan to enhance diversity in research participants, and a shared mentorship model to train the next generation of pediatric cardiology clinical investigators.
“For the last two decades, the Pediatric Heart Network has produced extremely influential research in the field of pediatric cardiology and congenital heart disease,” Glatz said. “Being part of this effort is indicative of the university’s clinical and research excellence. We have the infrastructure and the expertise to be a valuable participant in this network, together with our site partner.”
Congenital heart disease is a birth defect that affects the structure of the heart and sometimes requires medical, surgical or transcatheter intervention to address blood flow and heart performance issues. One in 100 babies is born with this condition, and it is one of the most common causes of birth-defect-related infant death in the United States.
Washington University represents the Midwest, a region that historically has lacked representation in the network, according to Glatz.
Other Washington University investigators involved in the new core site are: Charles E. Canter, MD, a professor of pediatrics in the cardiology division, and the Lois B. Tuttle and Jeanne B. Hauck Chair in Pediatrics; Kory J. Lavine, MD, PhD, an associate professor of medicine, of developmental biology, and of pathology & immunology; Philip R.O. Payne, PhD, director of the Institute for Informatics, Data Science and Biostatistics, the Janet and Bernard Becker Professor, associate dean for health information and data science, and chief data scientist at the School of Medicine; and Adam Wilcox, PhD, a professor of medicine and director of the Center for Applied Clinical Informatics.