UVA Medical Center Showcases Research

By: Althea Paul
By: Althea Paul

May 26, 2005

Rows of posters help shed some light into what goes on in the minds of dozens of UVA researchers today. The data was the focus of the Pediatric Department's Annual Research Symposium, and the event was not only for the benefit of other researchers.

"It's also a chance to share some of this information with the public because many of the parents that live in this area bring their children to UVA for their healthcare and some of the research findings are becoming a benefit to their children," said Dr. Peter Heymann of the Pediatric Respiratory Division.

The symposium showcased 34 different research projects ranging from fungal infections to childhood obesity, and a lot of them were in different phases of research.

Janet Allaire hopes her data will eventually lead to an NIH-funded grant. Her group found children with cerebral palsy and autism have a personalized communication system with their parents, but also have behavior problems when they're not understood.

“[They are often] kicking, hitting, screaming, sometimes injuring themselves, but all these are consequences to not being able to communicate," said Allaire, a director at KCRC.

Dr. Milagros Huerta focuses her data on UVA's Childhood Obesity Clinic. One of the things her research helps reinforce is the importance of catching childhood obesity early.

"The mild to moderately overweight actually were able to lose on average eight percent of their BMI score, whereas the kids that are severely overweight only lost on average three percent," said Huerta. "So that's clearly telling us we need to take care of this problem early."

And whether the research seems complex or simply common sense, the one goal is to help children.

"It lets us look at the way we're taking care of children here at the hospital and maybe things we could be doing better maybe that we're not doing," explained Allaire.

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