Friday, March 25, 2011

Children's National experts featured in Post series on childhood obesity and diabetes

Childhood obesity is a perennial hot topic in pediatric medicine. Doctors and scientists at Children’s National Medical Center are busy combating childhood obesity on as many fronts as possible as quickly as possible, to help stem the tide of obesity and related diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

The Washington Post Health section this week profiled several families struggling with obesity and type 2 diabetes, and Children’s National experts offered their insights about how families can successfully help their children be healthier.

In "Parenting an Overweight Child can be Difficult," doctors from the Children’s National Obesity Institute talk about what they’ve learned from their patients and families about the difficulties of implementing healthier habits. Both psychologist Eleanor Mackey, PhD, and pediatrician Nazrat Mirza, MD, agree that making changes must be a family affair. One child can’t eat a special diet, the entire family needs to eat healthier, according to Dr. Mackey. And Dr. Mirza points out that the best way for a parent to encourage their child to get active is for that parent to get active too.

In "Obesity Problems Fuel Rapid Surge of Type 2 Diabetes Among Children," Fran Cogen, MD, director of the Diabetes Program and HealthCentral.com blogger, tells families struggling with type 2 diabetes to “Stamp out Guilt” and focus on making changes now for a healthier future.

Importantly, the stories above focused on the help and support available for families already struggling with obesity and its related side effects. At the same time, investigators in both the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation and the Obesity Institute--which is co-directed by Sheikh Zayed Institute investigator Evan Nadler, MD--are looking ahead through innovative research that aims to understand the genetic causes of type 2 diabetes and obesity.

This combination of research, clinical care, and community outreach is key to helping today’s families get healthier as quickly as possible, while working to uncover new ways that doctors in the future might stop childhood obesity in its tracks.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Institute investigator Hubal offers sports training tips for young athletes to WebMD

Sheikh Zayed Institute Principal Investigator Monica Hubal, PhD, is an exercise physiologist and geneticist. She spends most of her time in the research lab understanding how the body’s muscles react and respond to internal and external changes, for example, whether muscle tissue shows differences in its composition following sudden weight loss. Prior to her work in the lab, Dr. Hubal spent time on the fields and on the courts, as an exercise physiologist.

Her expertise can help adolescents and adults understand how normal exercise and sports physical training impacts the way muscle develops. This week, she spoke to WebMD to offer training advice based on the physiology theory of training specificity, or focusing training on the muscles impacted by a particular sport, to help young athletes stay healthy during sports season.

Read the WebMD story.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Institute Doctors Sharing Innovation Expertise Worldwide

Sheikh Zayed Institute faculty are often called upon to share knowledge about pediatric technology and surgical innovation with colleagues regionally in the Washington, DC, area, nationally, and around the world. Some recent activity highlights from members of the Bioengineering Initiative include:
  • Craig Peters, MD, recently was Visiting Professor of Urology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the University of Pennsylvania Division of Urology. He presented “Horizons of Minimally Invasive Surgery in Children,” and discussed the unique structure of the Institute with CHOP faculty, residents, and students.
  • Dr. Peters then traveled to Saudi Arabia for the 23rd Annual Saudi Urological conference and gave a series of lectures, including “Innovations in Pediatric Urology.” The meeting was attended by more than 100 urologists from around the Arabian Gulf region.
  • Kevin Cleary, PhD, presented “Image-Guided Interventions and Medical Robotics: The Future of Minimally Invasive Surgery” at Duke University Medical Center. Dr. Cleary’s lecture focused on his career in bioengineering, during which he developed physician-assist systems for precision placement and manipulation of instruments during minimally invasive procedures. He also spoke about how his work will be advanced through the Sheikh Zayed Institute’s unique team science based approach to pediatric surgical innovations.
  • Dr. Cleary also will present “Workflow for Bringing Image Fusion to Pediatric Laparoscopic Surgery for Improved Intra-Operative Visualization,” as part of a poster session at the prestigious international CARS 2011 Congress (Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery) in Berlin, Germany in June.

Stay tuned for more updates as our faculty continue their travels around the world.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Sheikh Zayed Institute Bioengineering team visits robotic surgery company and research institute


Six members of the Sheikh Zayed Institute visited Intuitive Surgical Company in Sunnyvale, Calif., recently to share mutual research interests with the company that owns the only clinical robotic surgical system in the world—the DaVinci Surgical System. Four members of the Bioengineering Initiative -- Kevin Cleary, PhD, Raj Shekhar, PhD, Tim Kane, MD, and Craig Peters, MD -- as well as Larry Mahan, PhD, director of innovation and business development for the Institute, and Angela Francart, RN, vice president for Perioperative Services in the Joseph E. Robert, Jr., Center for Surgical Care at Children’s National, participated in the visit. (photo: Craig Peters uses the demo Da Vinci Surgical System at Intuitive Surgical.)

The DaVinci Surgical System is used for performing delicate surgical procedures. Though it is not used frequently in children, Dr. Peters has implemented it in pediatric urology for several years, operating on children as young as 3 months old. The team’s goal on this trip was to help build a research relationship with Intuitive, in the hopes that Children’s National and the Sheikh Zayed Institute can collaborate with the company to conduct research into effective pediatric uses of the surgical robotic system.

The Institute will work together with the Joseph E. Robert, Jr., Center for Surgical Care to develop a clinical program of pediatric minimally invasive surgical robotics, led by Drs. Kane and Peters. Additionally, research projects in the emerging field of pediatric surgical robotics are a primary interest of the Institute’s bioengineering initiative. The capabilities of the bioengineering team, the clinical experience in robotics of Dr. Peters, and the potential for growth in pediatric robotic surgery position the Institute’s efforts in robotics as one of the first multi-disciplinary translational research programs in pediatric surgical robotics in country. (photo: Tim Kane takes a turn on the Da Vinci demo.)

The team toured the manufacturing plant and were able to try out the latest technical systems in real-time and simulation. One highlight was Intuitive’s new integrated virtual reality simulation package, which permits enhanced teaching, practice, and assessment of surgical robotic skills. The 3D surgical simulation experience, coupled with the look and feel of a high-end video game, made it very difficult for some of the team to walk away from the system at the end of their time.

The following day, four members of the team visited SRI International, a world renown research institute that originally created the technology for the DaVinci Surgical System. Set on a shaded campus adjacent to Stanford University, SRI International was far removed from the business-like atmosphere of Intuitive Surgical. The team met with SRI to share ideas about the direction of pediatric robotic surgery and to learn about ongoing novel projects at SRI related to minimally invasive and robotic surgery. Many of those developments could also apply to children.

Overall, these site visits helped the team in many ways, including reinforcing their commitment to developing novel means to enhance surgical robotics for children. More visits to additional research facilities and organizations, to learn and build on best practices from around the world, will be an integral part of the Institute’s development and knowledge sharing efforts in years to come.