Intramural Pediatric Research Seminar Series (IMPRESS)

The Intramural Pediatric Research Seminar Series (IMPRESS) is a monthly, hybrid program being curated as part of the Department of Pediatrics Strategic Plan 2027 initiative to promote and highlight research collaborations. Our goal is to provide an opportunity to discover the wide variety of amazing cutting edge, interdisciplinary and collaborative work being done across the Department of Pediatrics.

We invite you to join us in-person or virtually for this event on the last Tuesday of each month from 3.30pm-5.00pm.

Upcoming Seminar

Topic to be Determined - Check Back for More Details!

Tuesday June 25th, 3:30pm-5:00pm
In person in Wilf Family Center Conference Room 1 or hybrid via Zoom

Michael Przybilla, PhD
Assistant Professor, 
Division of Pediatric Genetics and Metabolism
Department of Pediatrics

RSVP for the Seminar Here

Past Seminars

2024 Seminar Schedule

February 27, 2024
March 26, 2024
April 30, 2024
May 28, 2024
June 25, 2024
July 30, 2024
August 27, 2024
September 24, 2024
October 29, 2024
December 17, 2024

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2024 Seminars

May, 2024

Early neuroimaging markers of cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy

Rene Pierpont, PhD, LP
Associate Professor, 
Division of Clinical Behavioral Neuroscience
Department of Pediatrics
University of Minnesota

René Labounek, PhD
Division of Clinical Behavioral Neuroscience

As newborn screening is now available for X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), there is a need to establish meaningful disease markers to detect the onset of the severe demyelinating cerebral form at the earliest possible stage and to quantify early disease progression. We show that diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is sensitive to early, disease pattern-specific brain changes in patients with cerebral ALD and is associated with clinical neurocognitive outcomes after treatment with stem cell therapies. DTI is a promising method to support early detection and quantify treatment response to improve outcomes and quality of life patients with cerebral ALD.

April, 2024

3D Biofabrication: Applications to Cancer

Angela Panoskaltsis-Mortari, PhD
Vice Chair for Research & Professor
Division of Pediatric Blood Marrow Transplantation & Cellular Therapy
Department of Pediatrics
University of Minnesota

March, 2024

Challenges and opportunities in advancing personalized care to manage late effects among survivors of childhood cancer 

Speakers: Cindy Im, PhD & Lucie Turcotte, MD, MPH, MS

Advances in treatments have dramatically improved long-term survival after childhood cancer to >85% in the US. However, childhood cancer survivors are at increased risk for experiencing severe and life- threatening health conditions as they age as a consequence of cancer therapy. Using a study of differences in treatment and mortality among childhood cancer survivors who developed subsequent breast cancer as an example, Dr. Lucie Turcotte will highlight the challenges in addressing survivors’ lifelong increased risk of multiple morbidity. Dr. Cindy Im will then discuss potential opportunities to facilitate personalized care, leveraging large epidemiological datasets, statistical/machine learning- based prediction modeling, and genetics to improve late effects clinical risk stratification.

February, 2024

Q-rounds: Lessons Learned From When Your Academic Product has Potential to be an Actual Product

Speakers: Michael Pitt, MD

In this session, Dr. Mike Pitt, Professor in Pediatrics, will share a journey of how a frustration he'd noticed as a clinician and a loved one of hospitalized patients spawned a research question which has evolved into a software company. He'll share lessons learned in navigating the University when an academic product has the potential to be a marketable product, including discussing logistics of intellectual property licensing, balancing conflicts of interest (both real and perceived), raising money from grants and private investors, and finding collaborators. He'll also share results of their pilot in the neonatal intensive care unit that lead to a near tripling of nurse and family presence for rounds, and is helping make access to hospital rounds a right and not a privilege.

2023 Seminars

November, 2023

Searching for Balance: Bilirubin and the Preterm Brain

Speakers: Katherine Satrom, MD, Troy Lund, MD, PhD, and Jiuzhou Wang, Biostatistics PhD Candidate

September 26, 2023

SUPER Award Reception

Award Recipients:

Jenna Dick       
Targeting dysfunctional natural killer cells in Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C)

Lucas Dornan       
Mental health in pediatric germ cell tumor survivors

Nhi Lang       
Do medical complexities impact the effect of psychological conditions (ADHD, anxiety) on executive functioning in children?

Lay Lay       
Prenatal education for prevention of congenital infection in infants born to Karen Women

Dana Yang       
Generation of chemoresistant CIC0DUX4 sarcoma cell lines

August 29, 2023

tDCS and Cognitive Training as a Neurodevelopmental Intervention in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Speakers: Blake Gimbel, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow

Investigators: Jeffrey R. Wozniak, PhD

Youth with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) show differences in brain and behavior development, and attention and executive functioning are common areas of impairment. Novel interventions have the potential to favorably alter neurodevelopmental trajectories during critical periods of brain development. The purpose of the current study is to use mild brain stimulation (transcranial direct current stimulation [tDCS]) to augment a tailored cognitive training regimen targeting attention and working memory in youth with FASD ages 8-17 years. The current study builds on our group’s recent pilot RCT in children ages 9 to 16 with FASD, in which we demonstrated that this intervention was safe, well-tolerated, and led to greater improvements in attention performance compared to sham-tDCS.

July 25, 2023

Optimizing iron status while minimizing morbidity in HIV-infected Ugandan Children

Speakers: Sarah Cusick, PhD and Anne E.P. Frosch, MD, MPH  

Investigators: Sarah Cusick, PhD and Anne E.P. Frosch, MD, MPH

Pediatric iron deficiency and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) coexist in many regions of the world. Iron deficiency is an established cause of impaired cognitive and behavioral development, but iron is frequently withheld from anemic, HIV-infected children for fear of increasing opportunistic and other infections, although this practice is not evidence-based.

In a new era of widespread use and success of pediatric anti-retroviral regimens, children with HIV are living longer, healthier lives, and achievement of their full developmental trajectory is a new public health imperative. We will present the results of our recently completed, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial of iron in Ugandan children 6 months- 12 years with HIV and anemia, focusing on the effect of iron on iron status, incidence of infection, composition of the gut microbiome, and markers of inflammation.

June 27, 2023

Cytomegalovirus: A Ubiquitous Agent with Protean Clinical Manifestations, Well-Suited to Team Science Studies

Speakers: Erin Osterholm, MD and Mark R. Schleiss, MD    

Investigators: Erin Osterholm, MD and Mark R. Schleiss, MD

Previous research has suggested a higher rate of overweight and obesity in autistic children and adults. With the increased prevalence of both childhood obesity and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), it is important to investigate associations of obesity within the ASD population. The purpose of this study was to describe child characteristics and family feeding practices in families of children with ASD and their association with BMI and obesity.

May 30, 2023

A Descriptive Study of Child and Family Variables Related to Obesity in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Speakers: Stacey Brandjord, PhD, NCSP, CCC-SLP    

Investigators: Amy Esler, PhD, LP and Claudia Fox, MD, MPH

Previous research has suggested a higher rate of overweight and obesity in autistic children and adults. With the increased prevalence of both childhood obesity and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), it is important to investigate associations of obesity within the ASD population. The purpose of this study was to describe child characteristics and family feeding practices in families of children with ASD and their association with BMI and obesity.

April 25, 2023

Exploring Novel Therapeutics for Pediatric and Adult Glioblastomas

Speakers: Okay Saydam, MSc, PhD    

Investigators: Okay Saydam, MSc, PhD and Gunda I. Georg, PhD

The current treatment of glioblastoma is based on a DNA-alkylating chemotherapeutic agent temozolomide (TMZ) that is administered after radiotherapy. When combined with radiation therapy, TMZ only increases the median survival rate of glioblastoma patients from 12.1 months to 14.6 months. However, the beneficial effect of TMZ is short-lived due to rapidly developing chemoresistance. DNA repair has been indicated as one of the critical factors contributing to mechanisms of chemoresistance in glioblastomas. We recently discovered that glioblastoma cells acquire drug resistance by switching to an alternative, effective DNA repair pathway called Homologous Recombination (HR). Rad51, a key factor in HR, plays a central role in the HR repair of double- strand DNA breaks (DSBs). We found that targeting Rad51 using a chemical inhibitor, B02, kills TMZ resistant glioblastoma cells. Our goal is to develop patentable derivatives of B02 and test their tumor killing effect in in vivo pediatric and adult glioblastoma mouse models with the ultimate goal to develop a clinical candidate.

March 28, 2023

Fetal-neonatal iron deficiency and prenatal choline supplementation alters chromatin accessibility and histone H3K9me3 landscapes in the adult rat hippocampus

Speakers: Shirelle Liu and Tenille Fredrickson    

Investigator: Phu Tran, PhD

Fetal-neonatal iron deficiency (ID) results in long-term neurodevelopmental impairments with persistent hippocampal gene dysregulation, which implicates early-life ID-induced epigenetic alterations. Our previous work demonstrated that prenatal choline (a methyl donor) supplementation can partially reverse these behavioral and transcriptomic effects. Emerging evidence also suggests an interaction between iron and choline in regulating the hippocampal epigenome. Therefore, our lab is currently investigating how ID, choline supplementation, and their interaction affect the epigenetic landscape that could underlie the long-term gene dysregulation in the adult rat hippocampus.

February 28, 2023

The Gap in Early Life Immunity Between Nature and Conventional Laboratory Mouse Models

Speakers: Nathan Schuldt, PhD    

Investigators: Sara Hamilton Hart, PhD and Nathan Schuldt, PhD

Microbes are an ever present part of normal life that fundamentally shape immune development. Yet, common laboratory animal models limit microbial exposure to reduce the confounding effects of variable microbial experience, resulting in animal models that may not reflect natural immune development or responses faithfully. We investigate the gap between mice that develop under physiological microbial burden and mice raised under conventional specific pathogen free conditions to understand the influence of microbial exposure on immune function. 

January 31, 2023

A Team Science Approach to Identify the Role of Genetic Ancestry in Ewing Sarcoma Tumorigenesis using Human iPSC Modeling

Speakers: Kelsie Becklin, PhD and Rachel Moss    

Investigators: Beau Webber, PhD and Logan Spector, PhD

Ewing Sarcoma (ES) is a rare but deadly bone tumor, with stagnant survival rates for decades despite knowing the driving oncoprotein, EWS-FLI1. The Spector and Webber labs combine computational, population genetics, and stem cell engineering approaches to understand the etiology of Ewing sarcoma. We have leveraged the disparate incidence of ES between European (EUR) and African (AFR) ancestry to study ES tumorigenesis in iPSC-derived cells from donors with a range of AFR ancestry. We present the results of functional and molecular profiling from our pilot, describing the novel, scalable model of early EWS-FLI1 response and identification of thousands of ancestry-linked changes to gene expression and EWS-FLI1 binding. As EWS-FLI1 itself has proven elusive to direct targeting, studying its immediate downstream effects has the potential for establishing new druggable biologic pathways for treatment of ES.