The Department of Pediatrics and Human Development is comprised of a diverse faculty who share a common concern for all aspects of human growth and development, both normal and abnormal. The Department has a statewide footprint with faculty in Lansing, Grand Rapids, Flint, Southfield, Midland, Traverse City, and Marquette/Escanaba.  The Department has educational responsibilities at all levels in the curriculum of the College of Human Medicine. Its faculty participate in courses which relate biological, behavioral, and clinical sciences to child health. Departmental faculty play major roles in the new College of Human Medicine Shared Discovery Curriculum and its Learning Societies. The Department also has responsibility for general pediatric clerkships and pediatric subspecialty electives in the clinical medical curriculum.  The Department participates actively in graduate medical education with three affiliated pediatric residency programs (with Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, and Hurley Children’s Hospital in Flint), three affiliated pediatric subspecialty fellowship programs (Perinatal-Neonatal Medicine in Lansing; Pediatric Hematology-Oncology and Pediatric Critical Care Medicine in Grand Rapids), and in CME.  In addition, faculty members work with students in other graduate programs in the University. Individual faculty members of the Department participate in patient care and render medical consultation services in their respective subspecialty areas. The research endeavors of the departmental faculty are expanding and aim to help create a healthier, better functioning society by improving the health and wellbeing of the child and family.

B. Keith English, MD
Professor and Chair

Big Data Helps Identify Better Way to Research Breast Cancer's Spread

This week's MSU Today featured an article on Pediatrics and Human Development Assistant Professor Bin Chen, PhD. Dr. Chen uses big data to aid the discovery of new and improved cancer therapeutics. In a recent study published in Nature Communications, Dr. Chen and collaborators pored over mountains of genomic data to determine better breast cancer research models.

“The differences between cell lines and tumor samples have raised the critical question to what extent cell lines can capture the makeup of tumors,” said Bin Chen, senior author and assistant professor in the College of Human Medicine.

To answer this question, Chen and Ke Liu, first author of the study and a postdoctoral scholar, performed an integrative analysis of data taken from genomic databases including The Cancer Genome Atlas, Cancer Cell Line Encyclopedia, Gene Expression Omnibus and the database of Genotypes and Phenotypes.

“Leveraging open genomic data to discover new cancer therapies is our ultimate goal,” said Chen, who is part of MSU’s Global Impact Initiative. “But before we begin to pour a significant amount of money into expensive experiments, we need to evaluate early research models and choose the appropriate one for drug testing based on genomic features.”

By using this data, the researchers found substantial differences between lab-created breast cancer cell lines and actual advanced, or metastatic, breast cancer tumor samples. Surprisingly, MDA-MB-231, a cancer cell line used in nearly all metastatic breast cancer research, showed little genomic similarities to patient tumor samples.

“I couldn’t believe the result,” Chen said. “All evidence pointed to large differences between the two. But, on the flip side, we were able to identify other cell lines that closely resembled the tumors and could be considered, along with other criteria, as better options for this research.”


Read the complete article here.

Barbara L. Thompson, PhD Recognized by Miami Herald

Assistant Professor Barbara L. Thompson, PhD was quoted in the Miami Herald this week in an article discussing her recent publication in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Dr. Thompson's work suggests maternal stress may delay development in infants, with electroencephalographs showing diverging patterns of brain activity in infants as young as two months of age.

From the article:

“Is it meaningful long term is something we’re following up on. Previously we’ve only seen this among infants 6 months and older, and it’s remarkable that this early in life there are differences in neural activity under perceived stress,” said Dr. Barbara L. Thompson, assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Human Development at Michigan State University and one of the study’s authors.


“I’m most hopeful that this will give us some insight allowing us to identify those infants that could use the most supports and potentially mitigate the long-term consequences of early toxic stressors,”

Read the full article here.



Finding New Treatments for Children with Rare Illnesses


18th Annual Pediatric Research Day


2019 03 27 PediatricResearchDay 5 


A big thanks to all who attended and/or participated in this year's Pediatric Research Day. We had a great time hosting you and look forward to seeing you again next year!

More photos here!

Ingham County Immunization Rates are Concerning

MSU Pediatrics and Human Development Associate Professor Jonathan Gold, MD

In an op-ed published by the Lansing State Journal, Pediatrics and Human Development Associate Professor Jonathan Gold, MD expressed concern over Ingham County's declining rate of childhood vaccination. Widespread vaccination not only protects inoculated children from potentially deadly childhood diseases, it also protects children with medical issues that may prevent them from receiving the vaccinations themselves. Dr. Gold writes:

High immunization rates are especially important to vulnerable children with chronic diseases that either can't receive vaccines or in whom vaccines won't work.


The need for community immunity to protect our kids is one of the reasons that the state requires vaccines against contageous disease prior to school entry.


Without protection, experience has taught us time and time again, vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and whooping cough can rapidly gain a foothold in a school or childcare setting. And when that happens, chronically ill children are the most likely to become very sick or even die.

Michigan law allows parents to opt out of the vaccination requirement through use of a waiver. While a 2015 modification to the law requires waiver-seeking parents to first be educated about vaccines, it has not satisfactorily curbed these waivers.

Read the complete article here.

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