June 3, 2019

The Clinical Research Center/Research Resources Office presented the Clinical Research Award for second Quarter 2019 to Dr. Patricia Baxter, Department of Pediatrics-Hematology/Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine.

The award was established by the Clinical Research Center in collaboration with the Research Resources Office to recognize and honor individual contributions to protecting the best interest of the research subjects and compliance with applicable rules and regulations.

Dr. Baxter’s research in the CRC is focused on evaluating novel therapeutic agents for recurrent pediatric cancers, with a special interest in brain tumors. She is a member of the Cancer and Hematology Centers Neuro-oncology and Developmental Therapeutics Teams and is an active participant in the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium (PBTC), Collaborative Network for Neuro-Oncology Clinical Trials (CONNECT) and Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium (PNOC). Dr. Baxter credits the CRC nurses and staff, as well as the research nurses in the Cancer Center for playing a critical role in moving this research forward and their compassionate care of the patients and family.

May 28, 2019

Whether it is ensuring that families are well informed and comfortable, or walking into a room with enthusiasm willing to help her co-workers when necessary, at the crack of dawn in the Surgery Department at The Woodlands campus, patients and employees count on Jennifer Grubbs to make their day.

Grubbs started her journey here at Texas Children’s in 2015, in the Emergency Center at Texas Children’s West Campus, and then moved to The Woodlands just in time for the hospital’s opening as a Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) charge nurse. She later moved into her current role as the Patient and Family Liaison nurse that requires her to be knowledgeable, compassionate, and have the ability to communicate effectively. Grubbs exemplifies these characteristics daily which is why she was nominated by for the Caught You Caring (CYC) award by her leaders.

“She is so straight forward and concise when giving parents information about the surgery process, while also maintaining a profound sense of compassion and courtesy for their child,” Nursing Manager of Perioperative Services, Betty Smith said. “Her passion for her job is palpable and I have no doubt she will continue to provide amazing, well-rounded care to patients and families in day surgery.”

Grubbs’ flexibility to charge in the PACU, work in pre-op, or even work in the PACU as a nurse when needed on top of her duties as Patient and Family Liaison., shows her commitment to the department as well as our patients. She also serves as the chair of her unit’s Patient Experience committee.

“I really enjoy the patient experience role that I have,” Grubbs said. “I love working at Texas Children’s as a whole. There are so many opportunities for growth and the support by management here is immeasurable. Everyone is open to communication, there’s honest feedback, and it feels like a family, especially working in a community setting.”

Smith recalled a time when a PACU patient had a prescription for a medication that their local pharmacy could not fill, and Jennifer took the initiative to call several locations in the area repeatedly until she was able to find a pharmacy that carried the prescription. Something that may seem small to one person ultimately removed an immense amount of stress off of the patient’s parent. This particular occurrence is an example of her willingness to go above and beyond.

“However she can assist patients, she does,” Smith said. “Often as I prepare patients for surgery I hear her clarifying any misconceptions, addressing any fears, and comforting them every step of the way. That amongst many other things is why she is so deserving of this award.”

Grubbs’ sense of urgency that she has gained in the emergency room, combined with her compassion and patience from her PACU experience, allows her to be able to communicate with all family’s that walk in to any surgery situation.

“I am honored to be recognized for what I do every day,” Grubbs said. “It’s what I love to do, just connect with families and try to ease any anxieties they may have, and make a positive impact with every encounter I can have.”

The latest in cutting-edge research from across Texas Children’s Department of Surgery was recently on display at the 10th annual Edmond T. Gonzales, Jr. Surgical Research Day. The event is an important forum for surgical faculty, post-graduate trainees, nursing personnel and operating room staff to showcase their academic efforts in an encouraging environment.

More than 120 abstracts covering a broad spectrum of research topics, from basic science to clinical and outcomes research, were submitted for consideration. Of those, 14 were chosen for oral presentation.

The day kicked off with a keynote address from Dr. Adil Haider, Dean of Aga Khan University Medical College in Karachi, Pakistan and formerly of Johns Hopkins University and the Boston-based Center for Surgery and Public Health, a joint initiative between Harvard University and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He is regarded as one of the foremost experts on healthcare inequities in the United States, with projects focused on describing and mitigating unequal outcomes based on gender, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age and socioeconomic status. Dr. Haider spoke to the audience about his groundbreaking work in trauma disparities research, a field that he has helped establish by uncovering racial disparities after traumatic injury.

2019 Awards

Dr. Emily Steen was awarded the 2019 Samuel Stal Research Award. Over the past two years, Dr. Steen has been conducting basic science research in the Laboratory for Regenerative Tissue Repair under Dr. Sundeep Keswani, surgical director of basic science research at Texas Children’s Hospital. Dr. Steen’s work has focused on pediatric and fetal surgery, wound healing and fibrosis.

Texas Children’s Chief of Plastic Surgery Dr. Edward Buchanan received the 2019 Research Mentor Award. He was nominated by Dr. Kelly Schultz, a recent Baylor College of Medicine graduate.

“In addition to showing unparalleled commitment to his patients, Dr. Buchanan has been a strong mentor, sponsor and role model in clinical research throughout the entirety of my and many other students’ and residents’ medical careers,” said Schultz. “I’m grateful for the many hours Dr. Buchanan spent discussing research projects and imparting knowledge that would eventually pay off in the research I accomplished during medical school.”

Additionally, Dr. Yangyang Yu from Pediatric Surgery received the award for Best Poster, titled “Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of the Surgical Management of Infants Under 1 Year of Age with Feeding Difficulties.” And Dr. Candace Style won the award for Best Oral Presentation, titled “Citrulline Effectively Reduces the Rate and Severity of Necrotizing Enterocolitis Compared to Hydrogen Sulfide in the Premature Piglet Model.”

The event’s grand finale was the announcement of the 2019 Clayton Awards. This grant program, funded by the Department of Surgery, allows surgery researchers to generate the preliminary data necessary for National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant applications and other extramural funding. The recipients were:

Dr. Yi-Chun Liu, Otolaryngology
Evaluation of the benefit of bone conduction hearing device in children with unilateral congenital aural atresia

Michelle Roy, PA-C, Plastic Surgery
Cleft care instructional videos and their efficacy in postoperative outcomes

Dr. Guillermo Aldave, Neurosurgery
Pilot study of oncolytic adenovirus DNX-2401 for recurrent pediatric high grade tumors

Dr. Sarah Woodfield, Surgery
Profiling and modeling extracranial malignant rhabdoid tumors

The Woodlands Recognition and Rewards Committee has announced the third quarter Woodlands Shining Star winners. Beth Pali (left), and Dr. Rachel Marek (right) were honored for their hard work and dedication.

Pali is a registered nurse in The Woodlands Outpatient Infectious Disease Clinic and was also instrumental in the opening of the Dermatology Clinic at The Woodlands. She was nominated by several of her co-workers, all of which say she constantly goes above and beyond on a daily basis to ensure patients and families receive the best possible care and attention.

“Beth is an extraordinary human being,” physician in the Department of Infectious Disease, Dr. Ankhi Dutta said. “She takes her job very seriously, and that is what I love most about her.”

Pali’s compassion and flexibility was magnified during a situation that included the transfer of a complicated patient from The Woodlands to the Medical Center Campus following their ultimately passing. During that time she personally traveled to The Medical Center Campus to help provide support for the family.

“Beth goes above and beyond to provide exceptional care to our patients, families, and staff,” Outpatient Staff Nurse, Elizabeth Dudgeon said. “She is such a positive influence who naturally promotes all the core values, in all that she does.”

Marek is the Medical Director of Pediatric Hospital Medicine (PHM), and was nominated for her compassion and drive for amplifying unity.

“She has been an integral part of building the hospital inpatient services,” Physician in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition Dr. Andrew Chu explained. “She exemplifies our system values as she continues to lead tirelessly.”

Marek is a natural leader who has helped implement and lead core initiatives such as faculty development workshops and lectures at The Woodlands, co-rounding in which subspecialists and PHM service round together on shared patients, and the multidisciplinary Palliative Care Committee at The Woodlands.

“Dr. Marek believes in teamwork, excellence and has demonstrated outstanding ability as a leader and a physician,” Dutta said. “She has implemented an environment of camaraderie and mutual support when it comes to patient care as well as employee satisfaction.”

Congratulations to both of this quarter’s Woodlands Shining Stars, and thank you for going above and beyond for our patients, families, and employees!

May 20, 2019

Over the next couple of weeks, we will highlight some of this year’s Caught You Caring Award winners and how they go above and beyond for their patients and colleagues.

Carmen Vela began working for Texas Children’s as a hospital operator. She later moved on to central scheduling and is now an Ambulatory Services Representative in the Division of Plastic Surgery. For the past 17 years she has used her compassionate communication skills to assist patients in a variety of situations.

“As a bilingual employee I know that I am able to communicate with many different patients,” Vela said. “I love knowing that I am helping out the community. I love customer service, I love helping people, I love to listen, and if I don’t have to answer I will find it.”

Caught You Caring is a recognition program offered to patients and families, as well as staff, to recognize employees who have gone above and beyond their role to provide compassion and kindness to another person. This could be in the care of a patient, service to a family, or in support of a coworker. Launched in 2015 in ambulatory surgery, the now system-wide program has recognized many employees, including the eight listed below who were honored by the program this year.

Vela was nominated for the award by the Senior Project Manager in the Division of Plastic Surgery, Betty Tung.

“Almost daily, I can hear her talking to the families trying to make appointments, and she’s so nice, helpful and professional when handling the appointments,” Tung said. “I have witnessed situations where she has to go to the clinic upstairs because the parent wants to hug her to thank her for her help. She goes way beyond her job duties to help the parents.”

Vela continues to demonstrate teamwork and compassion towards co-workers. She is known for helping patient’s parents if they call with a situation such as traffic, running late, or with questions about parking.

“Receiving this award is very gratifying,” Vela said. “I think everyone should be recognized because it is such a team effort, but for Betty to notice my hard work and how much I care about the patients, means a lot.”

Texas Children’s wants to continue to recognize those who take great pride in the work they do and encourages patients, families and employees to catch someone who is making a difference. Caught You Caring boxes and cards can be found throughout the Texas Children’s system for patients and families to fill out and recognize staff. Employees can fill out a Caught You Caring form on Connect. Cards and online submissions will be distributed to leaders for staff recognition.

Click here to learn more about the Caught You Caring Program.

Dr. Ken McClain, co-director of Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers Histiocytosis Program, recently received the 2019 George R. Buchanan Lectureship Award from the American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology (ASPHO). He is the fourth recipient of this national award honoring a significant contributor in the field.

Specifically, the award recognizes McClain as an international expert in pediatric hematology/oncology, an accomplished educator, committed mentor and effective speaker whose significant research, education and clinical expertise is of the caliber of achievements made by Buchanan, who made scientific contributions in many areas of pediatric hematology and oncology, and has been recognized as an outstanding teacher and mentor.

As part of receiving the Buchanan award, McClain was invited to present a 35 minute state-of-the-art lecture describing his research following the award presentation earlier this month. His talk was on the history of Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis.

Dr. Sharon Plon, co-director of the Texas Children’s Cancer Center’s Cancer Genetics and Genomics Program, has been appointed by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to the National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research until 2020. The council advises government agencies on genetics, genomic research, training and programs related to the human genome initiative.

In addition, Plon recently received the 11th annual Niehaus Southworth Weissenbach Award in Clinical Cancer Genetics from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. As part of the award events, she delivered Medical Grand Rounds on “Genetic Predisposition to Childhood Cancer in the Genomic Era” and consulted with genetics clinicians.