A new network has been formed by linking the University of California, San
Francisco and four other academic medical centers to accelerate progress on
serious and life-threatening pediatric diseases.
The Glaser Pediatric Research Network was announced in Santa Monica,
California, on Wednesday, March 8, by Paul Glaser, board chairman of the
Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. The foundation has been a driving
force in the past decade to improve research and care for children with HIV and
AIDS. Now it is committing $8 million to the first two years of a program to
catalyze the most promising treatments for children with a range of other
serious diseases, including disorders of the immune system, emerging
infections, congenital birth defects and genetic diseases.
The Glaser Pediatric Research Network is an innovative and collaborative
partnership among five of the nation’s preeminent institutions for pediatric
research and children’s care: the Children’s Medical Center/UCSF; Children’s
Hospital, Boston/Harvard Medical Center; the Lucile Packard Children’s
Hospital/Stanford University Medical Center; Mattel Children’s Hospital/UCLA
and Texas Children’s Hospital/Baylor College of Medicine.
The network will permit collaborations among the physicians and scientists in
these institutions in both basic and clinical research. Multi-center projects
will be designed to speed up the clinical research that tests and improves
treatments for children. Major diseases occur only to small numbers of
children, yet large patient pools are needed to gain enough knowledge so
doctors can reliably understand their conditions and improve their care.
“Children are not ‘small adults,’ ” said Glaser. “Yet today nearly 80 percent
of all drugs used in children have not been specifically tested in children.”
The foundation also has committed funds to support scientific conferences and
technology development to ensure that, as new therapies emerge, physicians
learn about their pediatric applications more rapidly. Following the pattern it
developed to support AIDS research for children, the foundation will advocate
public policies that improve children’s health. And $1 million is earmarked in
the first two years to help support the training of the next generation of
pediatric clinical investigators.
UCSF’s participation in the network is spearheaded by Larry J. Shapiro, MD,
chair of the UCSF Department of Pediatrics and a renowned research geneticist.
Glaser Network programs at UCSF will be directed by Diane Wara, MD, chief of
pediatric immunology and director of UCSF’s Pediatric Clinical Research Center.
The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation was founded by the late
Elizabeth Glaser after she contracted the HIV virus during a blood transfusion
and unknowingly passed it on to her two children. The Foundation has supported
a three-pronged approach, using research, teaching and public policy advocacy
to help advance treatments for children with HIV and AIDS.
One example of how such an approach can make a difference comes from a program
to prevent perinatal AIDS transmission pioneered by Wara at UCSF and San
Francisco General Hospital Medical Center. HIV positive women are identified
and treated with anti-viral drugs during pregnancy. This program is now in use
throughout the developed world, and transmission of HIV to newborns has dropped
almost to zero in centers like San Francisco where HIV positive mothers get
appropriate care. A variation of the treatment now is being tested in Third
World countries - with major support from the Glaser Foundation.