Market Overview

Children's National researchers awarded federal grants for predictive modeling of rare diseases using computation, quantitative imaging and artificial intelligence


WASHINGTON, June 28, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Developing technology to more accurately predict the progression of a patient's rare disease can help physicians choose the most effective and least invasive treatment.  Two scientists from the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation  at Children's National Health System are receiving federal grants for projects that utilize computer modeling, quantitative imaging and artificial intelligence to better diagnose and treat certain rare diseases.

Children's National Logo (PRNewsfoto/Children's National)

"Using advanced technology to provide physicians with greater predictive information about a patient's condition is one of the ways that Children's National is innovating to improve care for children," said Anthony Sandler, M.D., senior vice president of the Joseph E. Robert, Jr., Center for Surgical Care and director of the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation. "We are gratified to again see our researcher's work recognized by grants from key federal institutions."

Antonio R. Porras, Ph.D., a staff scientist at the Institute, has received the prestigious Pathway to Independence Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This award funds Porras' research for the next five years, enabling him to develop two bone growth models that will better inform clinicians treating patients with craniosynostosis and help to optimize outcomes.

Craniosynostosis is the early fusion of one or more cranial sutures that may lead to craniofacial malformations and brain growth constraints during childhood. Affecting one in 2,100 to 2,500 live births, Craniosynostosis is treatable but there are currently no personalized clinical tools available to predict healthy or pathological cranial growth and no objective techniques to optimize the long-term outcome of treatment for patients with the disease. The goal of Porras' research is to address those challenges.

Also known as the K99/R00 grant, this NIH award is for researchers who are either in the postdoctoral / residency period or who are early career investigators. The grant is designed to transition recipients from mentored positions to independent, tenure-track or equivalent faculty positions so that they can launch competitive research careers.

Also engaged in technology-based predictive modeling, Marius George Linguraru, D.Phil., M.A., M.Sc., a principal investigator at the Institute, has been awarded a Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) grant through the Department of Defense. This grant allows Linguraru to develop a novel quantitative MRI application that can inform treatment decisions by accurately identifying which children with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) and optic pathway glioma (OPG) are at risk of losing their vision.

Manifesting in early childhood, NF1 is a genetic condition occurring in one in 3,000 to 4,000 live births that is characterized by changes in skin coloring and the growth of tumors along nerves in the skin, brain and other parts of the body.

This grant is part of the Neurofibromatosis Research Program of the CDMRP, which fills research gaps by funding high impact, high risk and high gain projects. Linguraru, who directs the Precision Medical Imaging Laboratory in the Sheikh Zayed Institute, is collaborating with the Gilbert Family Neurofibromatosis Institute and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia on the project.

Linguraru has published several peer-reviewed studies on NF1 and OPG, a tumor that develops in 20 percent of children with NF1. The OPG tumor can cause irreversible vision loss, leading to permanent disability in about 50 percent of children with the tumor. This project will provide doctors certainty when identifying which children with NF1-OPG will lose vision and when the vision loss will occur through computational modeling that is validated across 25 NF1 clinics worldwide.

Using Linguraru's technology, diagnosis can occur before visual acuity starts to decline, providing an opportunity for early intervention in children at risk for vision loss. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to avoid lifelong visual impairment for patients who need intervention while preventing unnecessary MRIs and aggressive chemotherapy in pediatric patients who are not at risk of vision loss.

Learn more about Children's National and its ongoing commitment to pediatric innovation at

About Children's National Health System
Children's National Health System, based in Washington, D.C., has served the nation's children since 1870. Children's National is the nation's No. 6 pediatric hospital and, for the third straight year, is ranked No. 1 in newborn care, as well as ranked in all specialties evaluated by U.S. News & World Report. It has been designated two times as a Magnet® hospital, a designation given to hospitals that demonstrate the highest standards of nursing and patient care delivery. This pediatric academic health system offers expert care through a convenient, community-based primary care network and specialty outpatient centers in the D.C. Metropolitan area, including the Maryland suburbs and Northern Virginia. Home to the Children's Research Institute and the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, Children's National is the seventh-highest NIH-funded children's hospital in the nation. Children's National is recognized for its expertise and innovation in pediatric care and as a strong voice for children through advocacy at the local, regional and national levels. For more information, visit, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Cision View original content to download multimedia:

SOURCE Children's National Health System

View Comments and Join the Discussion!
Don't Miss Any Updates!
News Directly in Your Inbox
Subscribe to:
Benzinga Premarket Activity
Get pre-market outlook, mid-day update and after-market roundup emails in your inbox.
Market in 5 Minutes
Everything you need to know about the market - quick & easy.
Fintech Focus
A daily collection of all things fintech, interesting developments and market updates.
Thank You

Thank you for subscribing! If you have any questions feel free to call us at 1-877-440-ZING or email us at