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Meet the BC Children's Hospital Research team taking part in Miracle Weekend

Posted by Terra Scheer on 1 June 2017 | 0 Comments

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As our Miracle Weekend fundraisers are announcing their year's fundraising total on our 30th annual Miracle Weekend telethon, taking place June 3 and 4 on Global BC, our spectacular phone volunteers are also working hard on the live phone bank and thanking donors who call 310-2224 to donate.

Tune in on Sunday, 1:30 p.m. to meet BC Children's Hospital researchers who are giving back to a cause that is close to their hearts. Here are their stories.

Dr. Mohamed Elgendi, Mining for Miracles Postdoctoral Fellow, Maternal and Fetal Health Research

"I was born in Alexandria, Egypt and pushed through difficult circumstances in my life, education and career. One of the most difficult aspects of my childhood was experiencing the loss of loved ones due to illness. The impact this had on me and my family has stayed with me.

This loss fueled my passion to help children like me and drove me to prioritize my academics and excel in my studies. Scholarships took me to Australia for my Masters and PhD and, now, to BC Children’s Hospital and UBC. I’m working with Dr. Kenneth Lim and Professor Rabab Ward on improving monitoring for women with preeclampsia, a high blood pressure disorder of pregnancy that is life-threatening for the mom and the baby. An estimated half a million babies die worldwide as a result of preeclampsia and many more are born early, at low birthweight and/or with lifelong challenges.

I’m proud to use my knowledge, expertise, and personal conviction to improve care for women with preeclampsia around the world and, in doing so, prevent the deaths of moms and babies, and give these babies the best chance at life-long health."

Dr. Bruce Verchere, Head, Canucks for Kids Fund Childhood Diabetes Laboratories

“You can’t find a cure without understanding the causes. Our team of world-renowned diabetes researchers are working at the hospital and in the labs to understand type 1 and type 2 diabetes in children, and ultimately to develop new treatments to prevent or cure this devastating disease.

Every step forward that we take is thanks to the generous support of BC Children’s Hospital Foundation and our provincial and federal partners who have outfitted us with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, and help us recruit the best and brightest.”

Amanda Henderson, Graduate Student with Dr. Angela Devlin’s Lab, BC Children’s Hospital

“Does childhood obesity start before birth? That’s what we’re trying to find out. I’m investigating how mom’s diet during pregnancy impacts a child’s chances of becoming obese.

For me, it’s more than just my graduate studies, it’s how I’m tackling the dramatic increase in the number of Canadian kids who are overweight or obese, and creating a healthier future for families everywhere.”

Dr. Emily Schaeffer, Postdoctoral Fellow, Pediatric Orthopaedics Research

"I come from a basic science background and wouldn’t change my journey from basic science to clinical research for anything. After finishing my PhD, I longed to see the impact of my work on patients and families. That brought me to Pediatric Orthopaedics at BC Children’s Hospital. It’s the ideal place to combine my love of science and sports; we’re continuously striving to improve bone health and mobility for kids in BC and around the world.

Our work in hip dysplasia, led by Dr. Kishore Mulpuri, has been particularly exciting. We are leading the first and largest-of-its-kind registry for patients with this common condition. Today hospitals in four difference continents are participating – it’s truly global! Every single child is checked for hip dysplasia at birth, so any improvements we can make in screening, diagnosis and treatment will have an impact on countless patients and their families. This is what drives and motivates me to push forward every single day.”

Dr. Pascal Lavoie, Neonatologist and Researcher, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

"As a physician, I work in the neonatal intensive care unit where I see babies with all sorts of life-threatening conditions, but with a tremendous potential for recovery. As a researcher, I’m working to help premature babies fulfill that potential by finding ways to prevent serious infections. One-in-six babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy develops a life-threatening infection within a few weeks after birth.

My research team has studied the differences in how adults and premature babies respond to infection using the latest technology and a level of precision and sophistication that was simply not possible a few years ago. With this knowledge, we have developed a new treatment that “fixes” a vulnerable component of a premature newborn’s immune system and reduces their risk of developing lung diseases due to infections. We are now leading clinical trials across Canada to test this treatment.

The support of BC Children’s Hospital Foundation has been vital to the success of my research. However, there are many other issues that remain unsolved and donations towards newborn research are vital to continue to improve care and give children in BC the best start in life."

Dr. Jill Zwicker, Investigator, BC Children’s Hospital

"One to two children in every classroom in BC have Developmental Coordinator Disorder (DCD), but DCD is under-recognized, under-diagnosed, and under-treated. Children with DCD struggle with everyday activities like getting dressed or riding a bike and often feel lonely, depressed, or anxious.

Through the DCD Research Clinic at Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children, we provide diagnosis and education for affected children and families. At BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, we are leading research to unravel the brain differences in children with DCD and examining whether occupational therapy intervention changes the brain and improves motor function. I’m grateful to BC Children’s Hospital Foundation for supporting me so that I can dedicate most of my time for research to improve care and services for the more than 30,000 children in the province who are likely to have this disorder."

Dr. Rajavel Elango, Nutrition Researcher, BC Children’s Hospital

Most people know that protein helps children grow and develop. What they don’t know is that not all proteins are the same. Proteins are made up of amino acids and the amounts of amino acids vary in different foods. To make things more complicated, a child’s amino acid needs vary dependant on their age and overall health. This is where my research comes in.I use sophisticated technology that tag and track amino acids as they move through the body in order to determine the optimal amounts and types of proteins needed by healthy and sick children.

My goal is to improve guidelines for healthy eating for young children but I believe the impact of my work could be far greater than that. By helping to ensure kids have the nutrients they need to grow and develop to their full potential, we’re helping them live long and productive lives.