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The Today’s and Tomorrow’s Children Fund Makes Its Sixth Set of Grants

TTCF Members and Grant Winners at the Faculty Presentation Awards on May 16, 2011
Since 2006, The Today’s and Tomorrow’s Children Fund, has pooled the donations of its 64 members to award major grants to further the cutting edge research of the talented UCLA pediatrics faculty members.

UCLA faculty members present their research projects to the group members, who then select the winning presentations. Ultimately, the group hopes to expand its membership and to provide an annual award of $1 million to one or more pediatric researchers.

This year’s three grant recipients who will split the $348,300 are researching infectious disease and diabetes in children.

Dr. Kuk-Wha Lee, of Santa Monica, assistant professor of pediatric endocrinology, won the grand prize of $150,000 for her research on new treatments for type 1 diabetes. Lee and fellow investigators have discovered a unique protein called Humanin (HN) that protects nerve cells, blood-derived cells and muscle cells against stresses that harm the body. They propose that HN will protect insulin-producing cells from dying in the process that leads to type 1 diabetes.

The award enables Lee and her colleagues to move their research project forward which has the potential for HN to be rapidly translated into a clinical trial in newly diagnosed diabetic children.

Dr. Paul Krogstad, of Culver City, professor of pediatric infectious diseases, earned an award of $110,300 for his work in the discovery and development of drugs to treat enterovirus infections in children. The enteroviruses are a group of more than 100 readily transmitted, seasonal viruses such as hand-foot-and-mouth diseases and others which produce mild, cold-like symptoms in adolescents and adults but can be deadly for infants and younger children.

In the very young, enterovirusesfrequently produce central nervous system infections, hepatitis, and other life-threatening illnesses. Krogstand and his colleagues are studying the chemistry of enteroviruses, in the hope of developing theraputic treatment for this family of viruses for which there is no medication currently available.

Thus far, Krogstad and his team have identified a little-used experimental antibiotic that dramatically reduces the growth of enteroviruses in cells and will use this grant to confirm their initial studies and also identify other possible medication treatments.

Dr. Yonca Bulut of Beverly Hills, associate clinical professor of pediatric critical care, was awarded $88,000 for her research to investigate whether iron supplementation worsens infections in children.

Sepsis, a severe form of childhood infection, is a major cause of hospitalization and affects more than 40,000 children annually with a 10 percent mortality rate, especially among infants. Iron supplementation is common practice to prevent anemia in this hospitalized population. However, iron is also an essential nutrient for bacteria, which in turn could be more harmful than helpful to these patients. Bulut and her colleagues’ ultimate goal is to examine the safety of iron supplementation in healthy and ill children.

For more on Mattel’s Children’s Hospital:
www.uclahealth.org/homepage_mattel.cfm?id=266

For more on TTCF: www.uclahealth.org/body_mattel.cfm?id=1094

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