New IU School of Medicine research facility boosts support for pediatric clinical trials

May 30, 2013

The IU School of Medicine has opened a new pediatric research facility that provides a family-friendly environment while dramatically increasing resources for scientists working to improve medical care for the children of Indiana and beyond.

Scott Denne

Scott Denne, M.D., professor of pediatrics at the IU School of Medicine, is director of the Children's Clinical Research Center. Dr. Denne also serves as an associate director of the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute.

The Children’s Clinical Research Center and Translational Research and Integrated Biology Lab will celebrate its grand opening with an open house from 8:15 to noon Friday, May 31, at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.

The event will begin with remarks from D. Craig Brater, M.D., dean of the IU School of Medicine; Scott Denne, M.D., director of the Children’s Clinical Research Center; Anantha Shekhar, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Indiana CTSI; and D. Wade Clapp, M.D., Chair and Richard L. Schreiner Professor of Pediatrics at the IU School of Medicine, followed by the chance to explore the center and meet researchers whose work will take place at the facility.

In its 18,500 square feet of space, the Children’s Clinical Research Center includes both laboratories and an adjoining patient care area where research physicians can meet with their young patients and their families in an environment meant to be both efficient and comfortable.

The center, the only such facility in Indiana, is housed in Riley Hospital in an area that previously housed outdated research labs no longer in use. The three-year renovation transforming it into the new center was funded by an $8.5 million economic stimulus grant from the Department of Health and Human Services in April 2010. The grant was one of $1 billion in awards announced by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins at a news conference at the IU School of Medicine.

Estuary mural

A colorful mural greets visitors to the Children's Clinical Research Center.

At any given time IU physician researchers at Riley Hospital are conducting about 80 clinical trials to test new medicines and treatments for children. Approximately 2,500 new participants joined those pediatric clinical trials in 2012, and there are about 6,500 participants in Riley-based trials at any given time. The Children's Clinical Research Center will provide a home base for most of those trials.

Until now, researchers meeting with children and their families needed to either work such visits in among the busy outpatient clinic areas at Riley, or at a clinical research facility at IU Health University Hospital that was designed with adults, not children, in mind.

"This facility allows us to do dedicated research visits much more efficiently and conveniently for children and their parents," said Scott C. Denne, M.D., director of the center and professor of pediatrics.

Children's Clinical Research Center patient area

Calm blue lights and other soothing architectural details greet young patients at the center.

Over time, the facility should enable pediatric researchers to increase the number of clinical trials and participants and in turn, speed the delivery of new treatments and drugs to children, said Dr. Denne, who is also associate chair for clinical and translational research in the IU Department of Pediatrics.

He also noted that having a dedicated children's research facility will also make pediatric investigators here more competitive as they seek support from government and private sources of research funding.

The patient exam and meeting rooms, family waiting and play areas were designed and lighted to provide a soothing estuary theme based on Puget Sound, the large collection of waterways from the Pacific Ocean that reach down to Seattle, Wash.

In a recent survey, more than 90 percent of parents of Riley patients agreed with the statement that research is an important mission for the hospital, and more than 60 percent said that all Riley patients should have the opportunity to participate in clinical trials.

About 2,000 visits by trial participants and their families are expected in the first full year of operation, but the center can accommodate thousands more.

Pediatric clinical trials currently underway at Riley cover a broad range of diseases and conditions, including cancer, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, heart problems, inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease, metabolic disorders and others.

Pediatric clinical research at IU has led to improved treatments for children in a broad range of areas. Examples in recent years include:

  • The first effective treatment for the tumors of a genetic disorder, neurofibromatosis type 1
  • Toddlers' use of insulin pumps once reserved for older patients
  • Use of cooling techniques to prevent brain injury in newborns after difficult births
  • A drug newly approved to treat children with hepatitis
CCRC Tour 2010

Dan Evans, president and CEO of IU Health; National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins; Indiana State Representative Andre Caron; and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius toured the unrenovated research space with Dr. Denne and Mervin Yoder, M.D., director of the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research, in 2010,

The Children’s Clinical Research Center is a facility of the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, a statewide collaboration of Indiana University, Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame, as well as public and private partnerships, which facilitates the translation of scientific discoveries in the lab into clinical trials and new patient treatments.

To access the center from the Riley Outpatient Center entrance, take the first left after the Gift Shop onto Mountain Avenue, then turn left again to follow the signs for Forest Avenue. The elevator to the CCRC will be on your right. To access the center from the Riley Emergency Room Admissions entrance, turn right at the sign for the Main Lobby, then pass the Red and Blue Elevators to turn left onto Forest Avenue. The elevator to the CCRC will be on your left.

Everyone is welcome for the grand opening. Light refreshments will be served.

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