Children's Health

The mission of the Children's Health Research Center is to develop pediatric translational research.  The center is actively using interdisciplinary approaches to understand the underlying basis of a wide array of congenital defects and childhood diseases. Several specific pediatric diseases are currently under investigation. A major initiative within the center is the Sanford Project, which aims to better understand, treat, and cure type I diabetes. Other diseases of interest include neurodegenerative disorders such as Batten disease and neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation, as well as pediatric brain cancers, cystic kidney disease, and primary ciliary dyskinesia. Additional topics of study include developmental defects of the nervous system and pancreas, oxidative injury in the perinatal lung, disorders relating to defects in the cell nucleus, and fatty acid deficiencies in the newborn. The center also includes expertise in a wide range of disciplines, including molecular biology, cell biology, developmental biology, biochemistry, and genetics.  

The Sanford Children’s Health Research Center is a two-site campus led by David A. Pearce, PhD in Sioux Falls, SD and Fred Levine, MD PhD in La Jolla, CA. The La Jolla site is located within the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute. A unique partnership is in place with the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, as well as other leading research and clinical institutions through Sanford Children’s Hospital. With a rich and dynamic research environment and ongoing collaborations on a national level, the Sanford Children’s Health Research Center is actively advancing toward its goal of understanding and treating pediatric disease.

Children’s Health Research Center Upcoming Events

5th Annual USD – Sanford Health Biomedical Research Symposium
May 19, 2014; Lee Medical Building, University of South Dakota; Vermillion, SD

Children’s Health Research Center Features

Jill Weimer receives an R01 award
Sanford Research - Jill WeimerJill Weimer, an Associate Scientist in the Children’s Health Research Center, received an R01 from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the NIH.  This award funds a project aimed at understanding the role of intracellular trafficking in neurological disorders such as the neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses (NCLs).  Dr. Weimer joined the Children’s Health Research Center in 2009 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  For more information, please see the press release

The Children’s Health Research Center receives a COBRE grant
The Children’s Health Research Center received a Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences at the NIH.  This five-year award funds five projects that focus on unraveling the molecular mechanisms underlying development and developmental disorders.  David Pearce is the grant’s principal investigator, and the project leaders include Mary Kinkel, Lance Lee, Kamesh Surendran, Peter Vitiello, and Jill Weimer.  The award also funds a yeast two-hybrid core, a molecular genetics core, and a protein biochemistry core that includes the BioID strategy for identifying protein-protein interactions. For more information, see the press release here.

Children’s Health Research Center News

Zhiguang Guo received a three-year research grant from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation for a project aimed at promoting beta cell-specific biomarkers for type 1 diabetes to improve early disease detection and treatment. 
Kyle Roux received a five-year R01 award from the NIH for a project aimed at defining the capabilities and limitations of BioID as a method to screen for relevant protein-protein interactions and the protein constituency of various subcellular domains.
Jill Weimer presented research from her lab in an invited seminar at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in Chicago, IL in January, 2014.

David Pearce and Michael Kruer presented research from their labs in seminars at Zhongshan University in Guangzhou, China in January, 2014. 
David Pearce chaired a session on “Clinical Trials” at the Lysosomal Disease Network’s 10th Annual WORLD Symposium in San Diego, CA in February, 2014.
H. Eugene Hoyme and secondary faculty member Amy Elliott organized the Sanford Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Symposium, which was held at the Sanford Center in February, 2014.  In addition to several world renowned guest speakers, H. Eugene Hoyme gave an oral presentation entitled “Clinical Diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: A Practical Approach”, and Amy Elliott gave an oral presentation entitled “Translational Research in FASD”.
Lance Lee presented research from his lab in an invited seminar at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD in March, 2014.
Peter Vitiello presented research from his lab in an invited seminar at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD in March, 2014.
David Pearce organized and chaired a meeting on “Translational Management of INCL and LINCL” in Bethesda, MD in March, 2014. MD/PhD students Ryan Geraets and Jake Miller, both in the Pearce Lab, each presented their projects in oral presentations.

David Pearce received the Champion of Hope Award, which is granted annually by the Global Genes Project, for his commitment to Batten Disease research. For more information, see the press release here

Jake Miller, a graduate student from the Pearce Lab in the MD/PhD program at the USD Sanford School of Medicine, successfully defended his thesis in March, 2014.
Peter Vitiello gave a presentation about the Sanford Research Science Educator Research Fellowship (SERF) program at the South Dakota Science Teacher’s Association Conference in Huron, SD in February, 2014.
Peter Vitiello gave an oral presentation entitled “Back to Basics: The Role of Basic Research in a Clinical World” in the Sanford PROMISE Community Lecture Series at the Sanford Center in February, 2014.
Michael Kruer gave an oral presentation entitled “A Day in the Life of a (Sanford) Physician-Scientist” in the Sanford PROMISE Community Lecture Series at the Sanford Center in February, 2014.