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Elevating Pediatric Care Through Research

At Dell Pediatric Research Institute, part of the Department of Pediatrics, faculty across disciplines partner with health care providers to conduct research that translates into new products, programs and treatments that improve children’s health and pediatric care. The institute is supported by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.

Areas of Focus

The research institute houses a number of leading cancer researchers, and its partnership with the Livestrong Cancer Institutes creates new opportunities for collaborative research. Grants focus on leukemia, glioblastoma, neuroblastoma and melanoma among others. John DiGiovanni, Ph.D., is focused on understanding cancer development and progression and on the identification of novel targets, mechanisms and strategies for cancer prevention and treatment.

Karen Vasquez, Ph.D., studies genetic instability in cancer and ways to improve gene targeting methods for cancer treatment. Stefano Tiziani, Ph.D., studies the metabolic alterations that occur in childhood leukemia to identify liabilities that can be exploited therapeutically. John Powers, Ph.D., works on RNA therapies for pediatric neuroblastoma and personalized cancer vaccines with low-cost delivery to patients. Funding agencies include the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas, National Cancer Institute and the Food and Drug Administration.

The institute’s researchers work to improve understanding of child development including brain development, childhood obesity and diseases in order to enable healthy lifestyles and create enhanced treatment options and therapies in the Central Texas community and beyond.

Tom Brenna, Ph.D., and his research collaborators lead the field in understanding the role of dietary fatty acids in neurocognition and in health and disease progression. Research by Molly Bray, Ph.D., focuses on the interaction between genetic variation and lifestyle factors such as exercise, nutrition and circadian patterns of behavior in determining energy balance. Heather Leidy, Ph.D., examines the impact of nutrition and eating behaviors on the metabolic, hormonal and neural signals that promote satiety and weight management across the lifespan.

Housed within the Dell Pediatric Research Institute, the Center for Rare Disease focuses on best-in-class, next-generation research, diagnostics and treatments for patients with rare disease.

The institute’s researchers explore treatments for neurodevelopmental disorders, birth defects and scoliosis. Ryan Gray, Ph.D., studies the basic biology and therapeutic interventions related to hydrocephalus and scoliosis. Richard Finnell, Ph.D., is an internationally renown expert in folic acid transport and biosynthesis and its impact on preventing preventable birth defects. Sung Eun Kim, Ph.D., works on the genetic pathogenesis and interventions of neural tube defects and birth defects.