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

Symposium:
2nd Annual SDSU – Sanford Health Biomedical Research Symposium
November 13, 2014; South Dakota State University; Brookings, 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

GRANTS
 
Michelle Baack received a five-year K08 award from the NIH for a project aimed at preventing cardiovascular disease in offspring of diabetic mothers.

Michael Kruer received a Clinical Scientist Development Award from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation for a project aimed at identifying the molecular mechanisms underlying pediatric movement disorders.

Michelle Baack received a one-year faculty research grant from the Sanford School of Medicine of the University of South Dakota for a project aimed at understanding the role of maternal dietary fat intake on cardiac lipid droplet stores in offspring of diabetic mothers.

Zhiguang Guo received a three-year research grant from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation for a project aimed at identifying 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.

 
PRESENTATIONS
 
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.

Kyle Roux presented research from his lab in an invited seminar at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, WY in April, 2014.

Jill Weimer presented research from her lab in an invited seminar at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, SD in April, 2014.

Several members of the Lee and Vitiello labs attended the 2014 Experimental Biology Conference in San Diego, CA in April, 2014. Postdoctoral fellow Rozzy Finn (Lee Lab) gave an oral presentation. Research Associate Ben Forred (Vitiello Lab), undergraduate SPUR student Emily Weber (Vitiello Lab), and undergraduate REU student Katherine Johnson (Lee Lab) presented posters.

Several Children’s Health Research Center scientists presented posters at the USD Department of Pediatrics Research and Scholarship Day in Sioux Falls, SD in May, 2014. The event featured posters from the Baack, Guo, Kruer, Lee, Surendran, Vitiello, and Weimer labs, as well as secondary faculty members Benson Hsu, Angela Myers, and Dennis Stevens.

Several Children’s Health Research Center scientists presented at the 5th Annual USD-Sanford Health Biomedical Research Symposium in Vermillion, SD in May, 2014. Michael Kruer served as the event’s co-organizer and moderator. Kamesh Surendran, Peter Vitiello, Jill Weimer, Haotian Zhao, and staff scientist Ilian Radichev (Savinov Lab) gave oral presentations, and posters were presented by members of the Guo, Kinkel, Kruer, Lee, Savinov, Vitiello, Weimer, and Zhao labs.

Alex Rabinovitch organized the 4th Annual Sanford Type 1 Diabetes Symposium: “The Gut Microbiome, Immunity and Type 1 Diabetes,” which featured several world renowned guest speakers, at the Sanford Center in May, 2014.

Pediatric residents Sarah Cole, Stacy Kern, and Michelle Schimelpfenig, all from the Baack lab, presented their projects in posters at the Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada in May, 2014.
Kurt Griffin organized and chaired a session on “Advances in Recognition and Management of Multiple Endocrine Neoplasias” at the Pediatric Endocrine Society and Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada in May, 2014.

David Pearce chaired a session at the Nature Conference on Genomics and Stem Cell Based Therapies: Shaping the Future of Personalized Medicine in Guangzhou, China in May, 2014.

Michael Kruer presented research from his lab in oral presentations at the 18th International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders in Stockholm, Sweden in June, 2014 and the 3rd Annual Symposium on Ubiquitin, Protein Quality Control, and Molecular Pathogenesis in Deadwood, SD in June, 2014.
 

HONORS & AWARDS
 
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 at  here

 
THESIS DEFENSES
 
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.

Miranda Floen, a graduate student from the Vitiello Lab in the MD/PhD program at the USD Sanford School of Medicine, successfully defended her thesis in April, 2014.

Samantha Hersrud, a graduate student from the Pearce Lab in the MD/PhD program at the USD Sanford School of Medicine, successfully defended her thesis in May, 2014. 
 
 
OUTREACH
 
Several scientists in the Children’s Health Research Center participated in Science Discovery Day at the Sanford Center in April, 2014. Over 160 students from twelve regional high schools attended the event to learn about careers in science. Presenters included Kamesh Surendran, Jill Weimer, Haotian Zhao, graduate student Ryan Geraets (Pearce Lab), and research associates Ryan O’Toole (Weimer Lab) and Katie Picotte (Zhao Lab). Volunteers and tour guides included staff scientists Rosanna Beraldi (Pearce Lab) and Jaime Carcel Trullos (Pearce Lab), postdoctoral fellows Seung Yon Koh (Weimer Lab) and Marianna Madeo (Kruer Lab), graduate student Miranda Floen (Vitiello Lab), center coordinators Camille Parker (Savinov Lab) and Sarah Radel (Pearce Lab), and research associates Alyce Haugan (Roux Lab), Sam Jensen (Roux Lab), Tricia Larsen (Baack Lab), Casey McKenzie (Lee Lab), Stephanie Theel (Kinkel Lab), Derek Timm (Weimer Lab), and Anna Yarrow (Kruer Lab). 
 
 
2014 Sanford Children's Health Research Center faculty retreat

2014 Sanford Children’s Health Research Center faculty retreat at the Sanford Pentagon