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Neonatal Neurocritical Care Research

Children’s Hospital of Michigan has been at the forefront of research on neurological protection, preservation and treatment of neonates.

Seetha Shankaran, M.D. neonatologist at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan was the principal investigator of the 1st randomized controlled trial of whole body cooling for neonatal hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). Considered a pioneer in finding effective methods for protecting HIE-affected newborns, she led a landmark 2005 study in the New England Journal of Medicine to help make the 72-hour “cooling blanket” procedure the standard of care in treating this condition. Several of her subsequent papers in the New England Journal of Medicine and JAMA have further tested the optimization of cooling therapy in newborns and long term outcomes of cooled infants. She was also the first author in the publications which have validated a scoring system for MRI as a prognostic marker for neonatal encephalopathy.

Children’s Hospital of Michigan has also been a site for innovative multicenter research trials of stem cell therapy in HIE and the Gene Target study in preterm intracranial hemorrhage. Neonatologists, Dr. Sanjay Chawla and Dr. Shankaran are currently leading a proposed randomized multicenter trial of cooling therapy in mild HIE. Dr. Sidartha Tan has established a Translational Research Laboratory with a rabbit model of cerebral palsy in rabbits, which serves as a platform for mechanistic studies in HIE and inflammatory brain injury. His team has investigated preventive and restorative therapies, including tetrahydrobiopterin supplementation and human umbilical cord blood cells. Dr. Girija Natarajan is a member of the multicenter Children’s Hospitals Neonatal Consortium HIE focus group and has published extensively in the area.

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