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Leaders in Research

Leaders in Research

Conducting contemporary, meticulous and innovative research to improve patient treatment and care and increase the body of medical knowledge and understanding of injury and disease is the cornerstone of the overall mission of Shriners Hospitals for Children.

What began as a small research effort, with a budget of $12,000, is now a multimillion dollar, sophisticated program, involving peer-review of grant applications and recognized around the world. Over the years, our researchers have made major, significant breakthroughs in all four of our service lines – orthopaedics, burns, spinal cord injury, and cleft lip and palate, improving the care and quality of life for millions of children with these conditions.

Shriners Hospitals for Children funds innovative research projects, special shared facilities, and training fellowships. In 2016, a total of 121 new and continuation bench, clinical research and special shared facilities projects involving our research centers and hospitals are being funded.

Research emphasis and direction

Today, our research efforts are focused on translational research, i.e. bench-to-bedside and bedside-to-bench research, and regenerative medicine, which has the potential to provide countless ways to treat, reduce or eliminate the long-term causes of many of the conditions our patients cope with, including burns and neuromuscular injury and disease.

Although regenerative medicine is in its early stages, it has the potential to open unlimited possibilities to reduce or eliminate the long-term causes of suffering from burns and other skin injuries, as well as orthopaedic and neuromuscular injury and disease. Recent work has opened the door to possibly using stem cells to repair spinal cord injury. The field of regenerative medicine offers a unique opportunity for translational research, and a significant opportunity for personalized medicine for the treatment of our patients.

We also continue to promote clinical research, in which we examine new treatment modalities, as well as outcomes associated with treatment, in order to continuously improve the clinical treatment and care of our patients.

Our close affiliations with colleges and universities across the country allow us to enhance the quality and scope of our research. Relationships like those with Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Oregon Health Sciences University, Washington University-St. Louis, Temple University, the University of California-Davis, University of Cincinnati, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, and many others help us meet our goals of improving clinical practice and pursuing fundamental scientific theories.

Here are just some of the research projects underway throughout our health system:

  • Genetic and chemical regulation of orofacial cleft genes
  • Bacterial antibiotic tolerance in burn infection
  • Understanding the molecular basis for keloid scarring
  • Develop effective strategies for repairing spinal cord injury
  • The effectiveness of healing touch on sleep, pain and anxiety in surgical patients
  • Determining links between adult function and childhood treatment in cerebral palsy

Medical research newsletters: