Hospital Names Researcher Christina Chambers as First Faculty Member
San Diego – April 26, 2015 – In a first step towards realizing the future of personalized pediatric medicine, Rady Children’s Hospital–San Diego has begun whole genome sequencing of San Diego County children born with birth defects of unknown cause. The Hospital has appointed Christina Chambers, PhD, MPH, to lead this effort as the first faculty member of the Rady Pediatric Genomics and Systems Medicine Institute at Rady Children’s.
The collaborative research effort led by Dr. Chambers at the Institute will focus on examining the data obtained from whole genome sequencing of children born with structural birth defects, such as cleft palate or congenital heart defects. The Institute’s goal is to sequence the genome of every child born with a birth defect in San Diego County where the origin of the defect or disorder is unknown. An estimated two to three percent of children are born with a defect that is recognizable at birth. The ultimate goal of the sequencing is to translate research into therapies that can either treat the child’s condition or to identify risk factors which may prevent the defect. Selected sequencing of these children’s parents will also play a valuable research role.
“The Rady Pediatric Genomics and Systems Medicine Institute promises to be a groundbreaking incubator for discovery for birth defects research,” said Dr. Chambers. “My role within the Institute provides a unique opportunity to study both the environmental and genetic causes of birth defects, as frequently there is not one single cause.”
Dr. Chambers has dedicated her professional career to this important work. A UC San Diego Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Dr. Chambers is a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist with a research focus on environmental causes of adverse pregnancy outcomes, including birth defects.
“By adding the power of genomic sequencing, we have the opportunity to increase the speed of scientific discovery exponentially and expedite the translation to actionable prevention, treatments and cures,” said Dr. Chambers.
Dr. Chambers’ currently funded research activities include:
• A set of North American cohort studies evaluating the impact of rheumatologic diseases and the medications used to treat them on pregnancy outcomes
• A California Native American Research Center project testing the effectiveness of a Web-based vs. peer health educator model for preventing risky alcohol consumption in women of childbearing age
• A comparative effectiveness study of asthma medications in pregnancy
• A North American-wide fetal safety study of 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine and antiviral drugs used in pregnancy
• International research activities of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders involving studies in Ukraine, Russia, South Africa, and collaborations in Australia and Poland
“Our vision to pursue pediatric genomics research was born out of our deep belief in the mission of Rady Children’s Hospital,” said David Hale, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Rady Pediatric Genomics and Systems Medicine Institute at Rady Children’s. “There is a great deal of excitement worldwide about the possibilities of personalized medicine, and Rady Children’s leadership feels strongly that San Diego is the right place, with the right biotechnology and philanthropic partners, at the right time to pursue the dream – – that every child who comes to Rady Children’s for care will have the benefits of genomic sequencing – – and that one day we will extend our mission …to restore, sustain and enhance the health and developmental potential of children…worldwide as we share these discoveries.”
Ernest Rady Family Pledges $120 Million to Support Institute
San Diego – August 4, 2014 – Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego has taken a major step forward in the research of childhood diseases with the establishment of the Rady Pediatric Genomics and Systems Medicine Institute at Rady Children’s. Ernest Rady and family have made yet another extraordinary investment in the health and well-being of children by pledging $120 million to support pediatric research and innovation at the Institute. The gift is the largest donation ever made to Rady Children’s Hospital Foundation. Rady Children’s Board of Trustees has committed an additional $40 million in funding to support the Institute.
“After more than one and one half years of evaluating the design and mission of an Institute at Rady Children’s, this Institute will assemble a team of world class scientists, researchers and clinicians who will focus their talents on preventing, diagnosing, treating and curing childhood disease through genomics and systems medicine research,” said David F. Hale, Chairman of the Board. “The Institute will work closely with UC San Diego and establish relationships with other academic and research institutions, companies involved in genomics research and other children’s hospitals to advance the mission of the Institute,” said Hale.
“The commitment Ernest Rady and the Board has made is truly transformative,” said Donald Kearns, M.D., President of Rady Children’s. “This Institute and gift will secure Rady Children’s place at the leading edge of research, discovery and innovation into childhood disease and injury, and set national and international standards for pediatric care.”
“As we move into an exciting new era of medicine it is our responsibility to encourage the ambitious research and innovation that will accelerate the process by which discoveries are made and translated into cures,” said Mr. Rady.
Discoveries in genomics and the resulting emergence of personalized medicine hold unprecedented promise, yet the methods and resources for translation into cures and treatments are still to be identified. This gift will allow Rady Children’s to invest these funds in the highest and most current needs to keep pace with new technology and stay on the cutting edge of genomics and systems medicine. It is planned that the Institute will be housed in two facilities, 7910 Frost Street, adjacent to Rady Children’s, and a location in the Torrey Pines area, situated among other distinguished research institutes.
Mr. Rady served as Chair of the Children’s Hospital and Health Center Board from 1990 to 1993, during which time the Board oversaw construction of the hospital’s Rose Pavilion. He also served as a member of that same Board, and as a member of the Children’s Hospital-San Diego Board, in the 1980s and ‘90s. During that time, Mr. Rady and his wife, Evelyn, made several major donations to Children’s; the main entrance lobby and the second floor Medical/Surgical Center of the Rose Pavilion are named for Dr. Max and Rose Rady, a tribute to Mr. Rady’s parents. In 2006, in recognition of a $60 million gift by the Rady family and American Assets, Inc., the company Mr. Rady founded in 1967, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to rename the hospital Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego.
“Not only will generations of children benefit from Mr. Rady’s extraordinary legacy of giving, our entire region is the better for it,” said Paul Hering, Chair, Rady Children’s Foundation Board. “Very few people in the world have succeeded in making such a positive, lasting philanthropic impact on our children now and in the future.”
About Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego:
Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego is a 520-bed pediatric care facility providing the largest source of comprehensive pediatric medical services in San Diego, Southern Riverside and Imperial counties. Rady Children’s is the only hospital in the San Diego area dedicated exclusively to pediatric healthcare and is the region’s only designated pediatric trauma center. In June 2014, U.S. News & World Report ranked Rady Children’s among the best children’s hospitals in the nation in all ten pediatric specialties the magazine surveyed. For more information, visit www.rchsd.org and find us on Facebook, Twitter,Vimeo and YouTube.
Media Contact: Ben Metcalf