Thursday, June 27, 2013

Children’s National Welcomes UAE Women Leaders

Children’s National was excited to host a distinguished delegation of female leaders from the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, June 25. The group included women from the UAE Federal National Council, UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zayed Military Hospital, as well as from top business and media organizations. The women were in town to meet with senior leaders in the U.S. Government and the private sector to discuss international women’s issues and gender equality, as well as how partnerships between the U.S. and the UAE can strengthen roles for women in the workplace.

Pam King Sams, Vice President for Development at Children’s National, and Noura Aldhaheri, a pediatric resident, welcomed the delegation of UAE women leaders and members of the UAE Embassy staff to the hospital on Tuesday. 
While at Children’s National, the group toured the Hematology and Oncology Unit, where they were able to meet some of our children who are going through cancer treatment and see the many resources available to help the children and their families heal – including our art therapy room. The group also toured the labs of the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation and the Pain Medicine Care Complex, where they were able to hear about some of the latest research being conducted and new technologies that are already helping alleviate pain for children worldwide.



LEFT: The group also visited research labs in the Sheikh Zayed Institute and met our Student Innovators from the Khalifa University. RIGHT: One member of the group tried out the multi-sensory gaming technology used to help manage pain in children. BOTTOM: The women spent time in an art therapy room to learn about the many ways that Children’s National helps children through the healing process.

A central discussion theme throughout the day was sustainability—how do we best encourage and train our next generation of leaders, including physicians, scientists, engineers, and most importantly women. We were able to learn from the impressive experience of our guests and share our own insights and ideas for the future. It was an exciting exchange, and we certainly look forward to many more opportunities to collaborate with this very accomplished group of women.

In addition to their visit to Children’s National, the delegation met with representatives from the U.S. Congress, the State Department, as well as private  companies that operate in the UAE.




Dr. Kurt Newman, CEO of Children’s National, spent time with the delegation and shared a laugh with Her Excellency Dr. Amal Abdullah Juma Al Qubaisi, the Deputy Speaker of the UAE Federal National Council and leader of the UAE women’s delegation.



Monday, June 24, 2013

Welcome, Student Innovators!

This month, 31 students from around the world arrived at Children's National Medical Center for the 2013 Student Innovator Program. The students will spend 2 months immersed in the Sheikh Zayed Institute's innovative space, where they'll learn the basics of innovation, improve their writing and poster presentation skills, and participate in a number of planned activities that will allow them to work with each other and assigned mentors.
Student Innovators, 2013
Highlights of the program:

The Individual Research Projects will teach new skills and understanding of the work of their respective disciplines.

Ethics and Safety training will be provided by the CITI course required of all participants before arrival and by special lab orientation sessions.

The Information Transfer sessions provide student innovators with the tools needed to communicate and share their findings effectively with others, with a particular focus on presenting research in poster format.

The Medical Hackathon is a hands-on experience that highlights various aspects of the product development process, e.g., working in teams, idea generation, and everything that goes into an innovation.

The Shadowing experiences in clinics, inpatient rounds and operating rooms provide opportunities to learn about healthcare careers and their environment.

Children’s Research Institute (CRI) will introduce all summer interns to ongoing Translational and Clinical Research specific to pediatrics at noon sessions on Fridays throughout the Summer.


A team from the Sheikh Zayed Institute will guide these students through their time here at Children's:
  • Floortje Blindenbach-Driessen, Ph.D., Academic Director for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Education
  • Martha Houle, Ph.D., Director of Education
  • Craig Peters, M.D., Chief of Surgical Innovation
  • Jennifer Littrell, Education Program Coordinator
  • Laura Belazis, M.P.H., Institute Program Coordinator
  • Jina Giusto, Intern and 2nd year medical student at Eastern Virginia Medial School

Monday, June 10, 2013

His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi visits Children's National Medical Center!

We were thrilled to have His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nayhan visit Children's National at the Sheikh Zayed Campus on Friday, June 7th. He was accompanied by his sons, Sheikh Sultan and Sheikh Zayed, as well as UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba and Deputy Chief of Mission Omar Al Shamsi. The delegation, greeted by Kurt Newman, MD, Mark Batshaw, MD, Tony Sandler, MD, and Pam King Sams, toured the Sheikh Zayed Institute, stopping to see the bioengineering labs, 3D Printer, and Pain Medicine Care Complex

(Left to right) Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, Sheikh Sultan, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nayhan, Dr. Kurt Newman, Dr. Mark Batshaw, Dr. Tony Sandler, Sheikh Zayed


Sheikh Zayed Institute Vice President Peter Kim, MD, led a tour of the Institute labs, making a stop at the 3-D printer and bioengineering labs!

Dr. Kim and His Highness
Dr. Kim talks about the HIFU (High Intensity Focused Ultrasound) with His Highness



Dr. Kim, His Highness, 3D Printer

Researcher, Dr. Kim, His Highness, STAR Robot


The group discussed progress on the Institute's four initiatives, learned about the Student Innovators program, and then headed to the multisensory room where Pain Medicine Program Director Sarah Rebstock, MD showed off the gaming equipment!

Dr. Sarah Rebstock showing off the gaming technology


His Highness Sheikh Hamdan also visited with Emerati children and families, who are receiving medical treatment at Children's National.

His Highness visits with a patient

The group was grateful to visit and witness one of many displays honoring Sheikh Zayed's legacy and vision for the health and well being of all children.

Dr. Newman shares a moment with His Highness at the end of their visit.

The Psychology of Chronic Pain—Healing the Mind and Body


For Mental Health Month (May), we sat down with Angela Fletcher, Psy.D., the Director of the Behavioral Pain Medicine Program of our Pain Medicine Care Complex to talk psychology, and how it relates to pain.

Angela Fletcher, Psy. D.
The patients who come to the Behavioral Pain Medicine Program (BPM) have one symptom in common: chronic pain. “These patients have seen so many different doctors by the time they get to us, our job is to meet them where they are in their process and help them return to living a life to their fullest potential,” she says. “We can’t promise to completely take away their pain but we promise to teach them skills needed to cope and function with the pain on a daily basis.”

The BPM team characterizes the pain each patient experiences by the extent to which it impairs their normal, day-to-day activities.  Dr. Fletcher says, “Whether it is academic, social, family or emotional, our job is to pick apart the pieces and help improve their quality of life.”

An initial step for her team involves assessing their baseline functioning or ability in multiple areas of their life, and determining the extent to which anxiety and depression is interfering with the pain and maintaining the cycle. “Distract, measure and treat” is how the Pain Medicine Care Complex describes its overall treatment approach. The “distract” technique helps Dr. Fletcher’s team tease-out cause and effect between pain and anxiety and depression—at times, in just one or two appointments. She says, “We know biologically that distraction is proven in reducing pain, and once the patient can reintegrate and begin participating in normal activities, the pain decreases. Their functioning typically improves before the pain subsides.”

Dr. Fletcher teaches her patients “non-pharmacological strategies such as relaxation and mindfulness exercises to control the release of excessive cortisol levels. “There’s so much going on medically and psychosocially for youth experiencing chronic pain,” she notes. “We teach them coping techniques that reduce pain and help them feel more empowered to deal with the pain.”

In addition, the Behavioral Pain Medicine group has a very rotund, colorful helper: its one-of-a-kind POD bed. Designed by the man behind the furniture in the movie Men in Black III, the futuristic-looking POD bed was created to help patients to relax and decrease overall pain. The bed will eventually plug into a biofeedback machine that, while soothing the patient, will collect real-time data to measure and track patient improvement. Using soothing, colorful lighting and music synced to the patient’s breathing, a psychologist can help children focus on their inhale and exhale, while measuring their heart rate, muscle tension, skin conduction and body temperature. This information will then be used to help patients become attuned to how their body changes when they are in pain and under stress, compared to when they are calm and relaxed. 

Pain Medicine Care Complex, POD Bed
The Behavioral Pain Medicine team also provides education and training to parents to improve communication, help parents respond to a child’s pain in a consistent manner, and make sure parents encourage the youth to participate as much as possible in daily activities.

Dr. Fletcher’s team sees patients in multiple locations around the metro DC area. In addition, the clinic is in the beginning stages of collecting clinical data to track patient outcomes. This balance gives her a unique perspective that connects the world of clinical practice and research.

She says, “An important part of the psychological treatment of youth with chronic pain is to make the experience less stigmatizing, less intimidating. If you can give them an experience—like the POD bed or other forms of technology we use—that speaks to them in their language, they’re more receptive to returning and following through with treatment, which is essential to help them cope with their pain and get back to a normal, physically and socially active life.”

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Sheikh Zayed Institute recognizes innovators at the Intel ISEF High School science and engineering fair

As part of The Sheikh Zayed Institute mission to support young people and innovative thinking in pediatric health-care, four Children's National Medical Center members participated as judges in the annual Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Arizona. The fair brings together more than 1,500 high school students from more than 70 countries, competing for recognition and prizes based on research projects from many areas of science and engineering.

Main Hall, Phoenix Convention Center

For more than 50 years, the fair has been a major stimulator of education and innovation in science. The Sheikh Zayed Institute also awarded prizes in recognition of innovative work in areas that could promote children’s health around the world. The first prize winner ($2,500), Junyi (Sarah) Wu – from Ontario, Canada developed a rapid diagnostic test for malaria – a disease that affects one-third of the world’s population; the second prize winner ($1,500), Aryo Sorayya from California demonstrated a way to freeze tetanus vaccines to enhance availability to underdeveloped nations; and the third prize winner ($1,000), Luciano Thoma from Uruguay created a glove to allow deaf people to translate hand signing into speech.

Craig Peters, MD along with winners Aryo, Luciano, and Junyi - (SSP photo credit)


As noted by Craig Peters, MD, all of these innovations could help children’s health care and well-being worldwide, but also represents the amazing amount of creativity, energy and capability of young people – demonstrated at the ISEF. It was an inspiration for the judges from SZI to see this level of enthusiasm and commitment evident in all of the students’ projects.



Posted on behalf of Craig Peters.