Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Science Institute (NUCATS)

Project: Research project

Project Details


: The health of children and adolescents is a critical determinant of our nation’s health over the entire life course. Yet, research into child health lags behind that for adults. In part, this reflects historical, cultural and economic forces that tend to divert investigators into careers other than pediatric research. To address this concern, the Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (NUCATS) chose the unique approach of specifically training young investigators to apply engineering solutions to problems in child health. Our overall goal is to generate a community of pediatricians, data scientists and engineers who collaborate across disciplines, using modern technology to improve the health of children and adolescents. The central focus of this continuing and highly successful effort is this Multidisciplinary Training Program in Child and Adolescent Health TL1, which has three specific aims. In Aim 1, we will train 10 postdoctoral fellows in basic science or pediatrics for two years, in a creative and multidisciplinary environment where investigators are equipped to apply innovative engineering approaches to problems in child and adolescent health. The fellows must have a mentor in both pediatrics and engineering. Presently, their projects range from computer-controlled delivery of general anesthesia or using nanotechnology to treat brain tumors, to applying machine learning to optimize discharge planning. This innovative research experience is complemented by mentoring from the TL1 leadership and from their postdoctoral-fellow peers; required foundational elements, which promote communication across traditionally disparate scientific disciplines; required selective components, assigned to individual fellows to optimize their training in pediatric clinical and translational science; and a menu of enrichment opportunities that are optional for each trainee. All of these components include both didactic and experiential approaches. In Aim 2, to expand the pipeline of engineers entering child and adolescent health research, we will provide 2, one-year positions (1 supported by the CTSA and 1 by institutional funds) for predoctoral engineers entering the last year of PhD training, especially those representing underrepresented minorities, as they complete their research and write their thesis. By including engineering trainees who are interested in CTS in the training activities available to our TL1 postdoctoral fellows, we intend to enhance their potential commitment to pediatric translational science. Finally, in Aim 3, we will provide a summer research experience at Northwestern for 4 students in clinical post-baccalaureate programs at a traditionally underrepresented-minority institution. Our experience to date suggests that, with our ongoing involvement after the summer experience, many of these students have been inspired to seek careers in translational research. Together, these aims outline a comprehensive and successful program to increase the number and quality of investigators applying innovative approaches to improving child and adolescent health.
Effective start/end date7/15/196/30/24


  • National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (5TL1TR001423-08)


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