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Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center traces its roots back to 1884, when the newly formed Hospital of the Protestant Episcopal Church converted a three-bedroom house into a hospital devoted to serving children.
The Cincinnati Children’s Research Foundation – the medical center’s research arm − was founded in 1931 through an endowment from William Cooper Procter, chairman of the hospital’s board of trustees and grandson of William Procter, the cofounder of Procter & Gamble Co.
Since then, major research expansions occurred in 1950, 1968, 1991, 1998, 2000 and 2007 as the foundation grew to become the nation’s second largest recipient of research grants from the National Institutes of Health to pediatric institutions.
Today, our work encompasses basic, translational, clinical and quality outcomes research aimed at improving child health. Research breakthroughs from our past serve to inspire us today as we look to genomics, molecular medicine and pharmaceutical therapies to treat a wide range of pediatric afflictions.
The live oral vaccine developed at Cincinnati Children’s by Albert Sabin, MD, vastly amplified the early gains against polio made by the injected Salk vaccine. As vaccination programs mushroomed, hundreds of thousands of lives were spared from the paralytic disease. Clinical testing of Sabin’s vaccine began in other nations in 1957. US testing began with the first “Sabin Sunday,” held in Cincinnati on April 24, 1960. Overall, Sabin’s research included some 350 scientific papers on topics that also included pneumonia, encephalitis, toxoplasmosis, viruses, sandfly fever, dengue and cancer.
In 1951, cardiologist Samuel Kaplan, MD, joined surgeon James Helmsworth, MD, and chemist Leland Clark, PhD, to develop the world’s first functional heart-lung machine, which was based on a bubble oxygenator that Clark developed two years earlier. Clark’s other major contributions include developing the oxygen electrode and using perfluorocarbons in liquid breathing and artificial blood compounds.
Jeffrey Whitsett, MD, and Timothy Weaver, PhD, were pioneers in understanding lung surfactant during the 1980s. Their research ultimately resulted in identification and cloning of surfactant proteins considered vital to surfactant replacement therapy. Since widespread introduction in 1989, artificial surfactant has transformed care for premature infants, saving an estimated 2,000 lives a year in the United States and many more worldwide.
More than 20 years of research by Richard Ward, PhD, and David Bernstein, MD, led to the development of Rotarix, an oral vaccine made by GlaxoSmithKline and licensed for US use in 2008 for the treatment of acute diarrhea due to rotavirus. Since 2004, when Mexico became the first nation to approve the vaccine, more than 114 nations have licensed Rotarix and more than 30 million children have received the vaccine. Wherever the vaccine has been widely distributed, deaths and hospitalizations from this common childhood killer have plummeted. Cincinnati Children’s continues to serve as one of the nation’s leading vaccine research centers.
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