This year, MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) celebrated its 10th annual Research Day, an event that recognizes the pioneering research of investigators throughout the hospital whose discoveries help to better understand childhood health and disease.

This year, Randy L. Buckner, PhD, gave the MGH Faculty Keynote Address, titled “The Ancestral Brain Developing in the Modern World: Mismatches and Opportunities,” in which he explored the connections between human evolution and modern day life and how those connections might have implications on behavioral health. The visiting keynote address was given by Diana W. Bianchi, MD, director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICDH), titled “Challenges and Opportunities Related to Child Health Research in 2018.” Bianchi described the optimistic opportunities for support of research and investigators focused on infants and children provided by the NICHD and other institutes of the National Institutes of Health.

The human condition is made up of ancestral connections that do not exist in the modern world, said Buckner, who is also the director of Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research at Massachusetts General Hospital. “Humans are a highly energetic, highly efficient species and our bodies show that,” he said. “We are designed to be active, but modern life is a mismatch for that.”

Peter L. Slavin, MD, president of Mass General, opened the celebration by noting the astounding level of research being conducted at the hospital. “We are very pleased and proud of the broad research portfolio, from basic to clinical to translational and to research that has an impact on the social determinants of health,” said Slavin.

For Ronald Kleinman, MD, Physician-in-Chief at MGHfC, Research Day is a highlight of the year, especially with the 10-year anniversary this year. “I am always inspired by the spirit, the interest in investigation and the collaborations in the MGHfC community that make this event so special every year” said Kleinman.

In addition to keynote addresses and presentations from MGHfC faculty, 154 posters were on display. “Not only is this an opportunity to see the breadth and depth of child-related research, but it’s also an opportunity to learn from our colleagues,” said Allan Goldstein, MD, Surgeon-in-Chief at MGHfC.

Faculty from various departments at MGHfC also presented on the great research being done by MGHfC investigators and the importance of continuing to support and encourage child health-related science. Featured faculty speakers included Margaret (Peggy) Doyle Settle, RN, PhD, NE-BC, nurse director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; Lauren G. Fiechtner, MD, MPH, director of the Center for Pediatric Nutrition; Vibha Singhal, MBBS, a physician in Pediatric Endocrinology; Hongmei Mou, PhD, of the Mou Laboratory in the Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center; and David F. Torchiana, MD, president and chief executive officer at Partners HealthCare System.

The day concluded with Kleinman awarding 13 finalists with the chance to submit a pilot feasibility grant. Kleinman also announced the Best Poster awards, in which three investigators received a $1,000 grant to travel to an academic conference of their choice. The Best Poster award recipients included:

  • Gholamali Jafari, DPhil, MD, of the Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Lab – “Branched-chain actin dynamics specify apicobasal polarity in the C. elegans intestine”
  • Vibha Singhal, MBBS, of Pediatric Endocrinology – “Transdermal Estradiol Replacement Prevents the Reduction in Bone Formation Markers Observed with a Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill in Oligo-amenorrheic Athletes”
  • Mai Uchida, MD, of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry – “Searching for Neural Biomarkers of the Risk for Pediatric Mood Disorders: A DTI Study in Children with Emotional Dysregulation”