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Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics Research

The faculty and staff of the MUSC Division of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics actively engage in research that will help inform effective clinical practice.  The following is a description of our currently funded, investigator-initiated research programs:

Carolina Autism Transition Study (CATS)

The transition from adolescence to adulthood is a critical period for individuals living with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).  Many of the support and intervention services available to children and youth with ASD end between ages 16 and 21, and there are limited services available specifically for adults with ASD, particularly those without intellectual disability.  The goal of the Carolina Autism Transition Study (CATS) is to characterize patterns of service utilization and longitudinal outcomes of individuals with ASD between the ages of 16 and 22 (as of 2014).
Funding Source:  Department of Defense
-- Principal Investigator:  Laura Carpenter, PhD
-- Co-Investigators:  Catherine Bradley, PhD, Andrea Boan, PhD, MSCR, and Jane Charles, MD

Corticosteroid Therapy in Neonates Undergoing Cardiopulmonary Bypass

This study aims to examine the medical and neurodevelopmental outcomes of corticosteroid therapy in neonates receiving cardiopulmonary bypass.
Funding Source:  National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
-- Principal Investigator:  Eric Graham, MD
-- Co-Investigator:  Kasey Hamlin-Smith, PhD

Down Syndrome Biomarkers Study

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) affects approximately 75% of all adults with Down syndrome and previous animal models have suggested the presence of biomarkers that may place individuals at risk for AD.  This study aims to identify early biomarkers associated with (AD) in both children with Down syndrome and their biological mothers.
-- Co- Investigators:  Angela LaRosa, MD, MSCR and Lotta Granholm, PhD.

Evaluation of the Cognoa Autism Spectrum Disorder Screening Measure for Use in Clinical Triage

The goal of this study is to determine the sensitivity and specificity of the Cognoa screening measure as a tier-2 screener for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).  This project recently enrolled 80 patients (ages 18-60 months) presenting with concerns for ASD.
Funding Source:  Cognoa Inc.
-- Site Principal Investigator:  Laura Carpenter PhD
-- Co-Investigator:  Catherine Bradley, PhD

Gender Differences in Social Interaction and Behavior of Children in Kinship Care

The research project is a pilot study designed to explore gender differences in social interaction and behavior of children in kinship care.  The project will assess internalizing and externalizing behavior problem, and bullying and ostracism differences in a cohort of 100 children ages 5 to 18.
Funding Source: MUSC SCOR Gender Differences in Neuroscience
-- Principal Investigator:  Maggie Wilkes, MD and Eve Spratt, MD (Mentor)

Piece it Together

This collaboration with the MUSC Wellness Center is a fitness, nutrition, and socialization project for teens and young adults with High Functioning Autism or mild neurodevelopmental disorders.  It includes a weekly program at the MUSC Wellness Center, a 6 week summer camp including personal training and group classes, a class at Wando High School with an opportunity to earn a Wellness certificate, a chat group for accountability with exercise using Fit Bit technology and an opportunity for running or walking the Cooper River Bridge Run.
Funding Sources:  SC Disability Council, MUSC SCTRC Community Engagement Grant, and the Coastal Community Foundation
-- Principal Investigators:  Eve Spratt, MD, MSCR, Janis Newton (Director of the MUSC Wellness Center), Carrie Papa, and Keely Flynn, MPH, RD, LD

South Carolina Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Project (SC-ADDM)

This study aims to enhance current capacity for surveillance of autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities (e.g., intellectual disabilities and Fragile X) from a public health perspective, by investigating the prevalence of developmental disabilities (autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability) in the Coastal and Pee Dee regions of South Carolina.  SC-ADDM has completed the 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008 surveillance years and will continue to collect data for the 2010 and 2012 surveillance years.
Funding Source:  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
-- Principal Investigators:  Jane Charles, MD
-- Co-Investigators:  Laura Carpenter, PhD, Andrea Boan, PhD, and Catherine Bradley, PhD

South Carolina Children’s Educational Surveillance Study (SUCCESS)

The South Carolina Children’s Educational Surveillance Study (SUCCESS) is a screening and assessment study designed to determine the true prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) through broad screening of children born in 2004 residing in Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester counties.  SUCCESS is the first population-based screening and assessment study for ASD conducted in the United States, and is expected to provide groundbreaking information about ASD, including information about the impact of DSM-5 diagnosis on the prevalence of ASD.
Funding Source:  Autism Speaks
-- Principal Investigator:  Laura Carpenter, PhD
-- Co-Investigators:  Catherine Bradley, PhD, Andrea Boan, PhD, MSCR, and Jane Charles, MD

Success by Six in Rural Ghana

The primary goal of this initiative is to improve the health and development of vulnerable children with significant malnutrition in the Village of Okurase in Ghana, West Africa.  This initiative will test the acceptability and feasibility of a nutrition and wellness child development program employing regular monitoring with home health nurse visitation, nutrition and disease prevention, education and monitoring of the development and health benefits of daily improved nutrition.  
Funding Source:  MUSC Center for Global Health
-- Investigators:  Eve Spratt, MD, MSCR, Jennifer Poon, MD, Cynthia Swenson, PhD, Sarah Logan, PhD, Project Okurase, and Ghanaian health officials

OTHER RESEARCH INITIATIVES

Our faculty also engage in collaborative research efforts with faculty in other specialty areas, including a number of federally-funded, multi-site investigations:

Cardiology:

-- Developmental Outcomes following Surgical Correction of Congenital Cardiac Defects (Co-Investigators: Kasey Hamlin-Smith, PhD)
-- Long-term Outcomes of Children with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) and the impact of Norwood Shunt Type (SVR-III) (PI: Andrew Atz, MD and Investigator: Mary Kral, PhD)

Hematology/Oncology:  

-- Developmental and Behavioral Screening in Pediatric Sickle Cell Disease (PI: Alyssa Schlenz)
-- Unrelated Donor Reduced Intensity Bone Marrow Transplant for Children with Severe Sickle Cell Disease (PI: Jennifer Jaroscak, MD and Investigator:  Mary Kral, PhD)

Neurosciences:  

-- Comorbidities in Pediatric Epilepsy (Co-Investigators: Mary Kral, PhD, Michelle Lally, MD, and Tanja Kellerman, PhD)