The Cincinnati Children's Research Foundation recognizes faculty achievement in research, clinical care, education, entrepreneurship, mentoring, advocacy and service.
Mary Greiner, MD
Division of General and Community Pediatrics
Soon after completing a fellowship in Child Abuse and joining the faculty in 2011, Mary Greiner, MD, established a new service to improve care for foster children. Known as CHECK — Comprehensive Health Evaluations for Cincinnati’s Kids — the center serves approximately 4,000 children in the protective custody of Jobs and Family Services (JFS).
Dr. Greiner works to ensure that children entering foster care receive necessary medical, dental and mental health care; that foster parents are adequately trained to support the health and developmental needs of the children in their care; and that JFS caseworkers of children with complex medical needs have the information they need to make informed decisions regarding placement. She is quick to problem-solve when patients face barriers, is always looking for opportunities to improve services, and is vigilant about measuring outcomes.
Dr. Greiner has mentored 13 medical students, residents and fellows. She is particularly interested in educating providers about the long-term effects of maltreatment and the challenges children face in the child welfare system.
Charles Schubert, MD
Division of Emergency Medicine
In addition to providing exceptional care in the Emergency Department for 28 years, Chuck Schubert, MD, has been a tireless and inspiring advocate for improving the health of underserved and at-risk children locally and globally.
He served on the United Way Advisory Committee that launched Every Child Succeeds (ECS) and as chair of the ECS Medical Home Committee. He was a member of the Child Abuse Team for 15 years. He co-developed and teaches an elective for medical students and residents on how to assess and meet the medical needs of patients living in poverty. He co-founded Crossroad Health Center in Over-the-Rhine, served as medical director for a decade, and continues to provide direct care.
As director of the Global Health Track for the Pediatric Residency Program since 2009, Dr. Schubert developed and directs a partnership with Kamuzu Central Hospital in Malawi. The partnership is improving clinical care for Malawi’s children, providing an international experience for Cincinnati Children’s residents and training Malawian medical students.
Erin Shaughnessy, MD
Division of Hospital Medicine
Erin Shaughnessy, MD, joined Cincinnati Children’s in 2012 as medical director of the Hospital Medicine Surgical Service. The Division of Hospital Medicine appointed Dr. Shaughnessy associate division director for clinical operations in 2015.
Her innovations in clinical management and professional development have benefited our patients and are having an impact nationally.
To meet growing demand for co-management of surgical patients, she increased staff and achieved over 300 percent growth in patient encounters. She also recognized the need for professional education in this new field and developed a curriculum for faculty and trainees.
Dr. Shaughnessy has assembled and led multidisciplinary teams to establish, implement and evaluate evidence-based standards of care to address clinical quality concerns. One team designed a respiratory care algorithm for children undergoing hip and spine surgery, resulting in a significant decrease in respiratory complications. Another team developed an approach to venous thromboembolism that was published in Hospital Pediatrics and named one of the top 10 articles in Pediatric Hospital Medicine in 2014.
Frank Biro, MD
Division of Adolescent and Transition Medicine
Frank Biro, MD, joined the Division of Adolescent Medicine in 1984 and has held many roles, including staff physician, director of research, director of clinical services, and division director.
He has developed innovative clinical care programs that have had a significant impact. In the early 1990s, he developed the Combined Internal Medicine-Pediatrics Residency. More recently, he developed the Transition Medicine Program and serves as its senior faculty advisor. The program grew from his compassionate care of older, medically complicated patients who were unable to find and transition to an adult care provider. It provides a medical home as patients graduate from pediatric to adult care.
Today in the Teen Health Center and on the inpatient service, Dr. Biro often cares for the children and grandchildren of his former patients. He also is the “Dr. House” of Cincinnati Children’s — the physician that physicians go to with their medical conundrums and complex cases. Trainees at all levels request to work with him because of his exemplary clinical and diagnostic skills.
Michelle Lierl, MD
Division of Allergy and Immunology
Michelle Lierl, MD, exemplifies excellence in clinical care, education and clinical research in the Division of Allergy and Immunology.
Dr. Lierl consistently leads her division in clinical quality care and productivity. Patients and families appreciate her superb clinical skills and her supportive approach, including the time she spends answering their calls, questions and concerns.
She has been instrumental in identifying and developing strong evidence for the clinical importance of new allergens — basidiomycete (mushroom) and myxomycete (slime mold) spores. Although her focus is clinical care, she’s often spotted in the laboratory preparing extracts for allergy testing with these agents. She also has participated with other members of the division in studies seeking safe and effective methods for resolving life-threatening food allergies in children. Dr. Lierl devotes most of her non-clinic time to these food desensitization trials.
Dr. Lierl’s service to Cincinnati Children’s includes membership on the Institutional Review Board (1995-2008) and the Asthma Clinical Effectiveness Committee (1996-2006).
Karen Jerardi, MD, MEd
An educator who consistently receives outstanding teaching evaluations, Karen Jerardi, MD, MEd, applies her skills in curriculum development and adult learning theory to educating pre-clinical and clinical medical students, residents, fellows and advanced practice nurses in the Division of Hospital Medicine.
As director of the Hospital Medicine fellowship, she currently mentors six fellows, pursuing careers in clinical research, medical education and quality improvement. The program’s first 12 graduates have secured academic appointments, completed master’s degrees, published numerous manuscripts and submitted seven successful grant applications during fellowship.
Among her achievements, Dr. Jerardi launched an innovative educational project to re-vamp the resident morning conference. She also led a multidisciplinary rapid-cycle improvement team that used novel educational methods to dramatically improve adherence to AAP urinary tract infection guidelines for hospitalized patients.
Dr. Jerardi is developing a national reputation for educational excellence. She has been Curriculum Committee Leader for the national Pediatric Hospital Medicine Fellowship Program Director group since 2014, and has helped develop the standardized fellow curriculum critical for accreditation.
Rashmi Hegde, PhD
Division of Developmental Biology
Rashmi Hegde, PhD, director of the Molecular and Developmental Biology graduate program, oversaw the program through UC’s semester conversion and obtained approval to create a more rigorous qualifying exam.
She also recognized the need for a training alternative for students interested in careers as senior technicians/lab managers in academic or industry research labs.
With remarkable determination and organizational skill, Dr. Hegde created the Biomedical Research Masters of Science (BRMS) program from scratch in just 12 months. She wrote a proposal for the Academic Research Committee, developed a curriculum, secured funding for and oversaw construction of a laboratory classroom, recruited teachers, authored a program assessment plan for UC and set up the program website. The BRMS program admitted its first class of students in fall 2015.
Now Dr. Hegde has turned her attention to creating a BRMS clinical track that will train clinical fellows interested in performing independent research.
Todd Florin, MD
In his five years in the Division of Emergency Medicine, Todd Florin, MD, has been both an impressive researcher in his own right and a remarkable champion of learners who seek research mentorship. His joy and talent is infectious. It inspires his mentees, and they inspire him.
Dr. Florin has mentored seven trainees and junior faculty in his first five years as a faculty member. Among his accomplishments as a mentor, he planned a randomized controlled trial with a fellow as primary investigator. The trial garnered two grants, and the mentee, clinical fellow Theresa Frey, MD, won the Ken Graff Young Investigator Research Award from the AAP Section on Emergency Medicine.
Beyond his achievements in one-to-one mentoring, Dr. Florin has had a profound impact on research training in the pediatric Emergency Medicine fellowship. With Terri Byczkowski, PhD, he co-leads research oversight and planning for the fellowship program. They have created a roadmap and just-in-time support for each step in the fellows’ scholarly work. Each mentee who has graduated has published work with Dr. Florin.
John Clancy, MD
Division of Pulmonary Medicine
Nomination letters from colleagues here who John (JP) Clancy, MD, has mentored describe him as a devoted mentor who has had a profound impact on their careers.
One said that working under his guidance on a basic research project while she was a pediatric resident was “a life-altering experience that set me on my path to becoming a pediatric pulmonologist.”
Another recalled that near the end of his residency, Dr. Clancy “graciously took time to guide me through . . . my first foray into grantsmanship,” and later “welcomed me into his lab despite my lack of research experience. . . . Without JP’s mentorship, my career trajectory would be vastly different.”
A third noted that he “enables his research mentees to chart a course of novel research that is complementary to, but independent from, his own research,” and “takes advantage of every opportunity . . . to introduce mentees to a network of CF investigators.” These connections open opportunities for collaboration and promote early successes.
Alexander Vinks, PharmD, PhD
Division of Clinical Pharmacology
Alexander (Sander) Vinks, PharmD, PhD, routinely mentors more than 15 junior faculty, fellows and students, and has impacted the careers of more than 100 trainees. As director of the Pediatric Clinical Pharmacology Postdoctoral Training Program, he guides research and clinical fellows in a wide range of disciplines.
Mentees point to Dr. Vinks’ genuine interest in their professional and personal development. “He was instrumental in coaching me in the conduct of one of my first research studies. . . . He has always been encouraging and selfless,” wrote one.
With sensitivity to personal work-life balance issues, he “established a career development plan that fits my situation and my needs,” wrote another. “Dr. Vinks has truly reached out in supporting and promoting my professional and personal development.”
As one of his mentees says, through his dedication to mentoring, “Dr. Vinks has planted many ‘seeds’ across the world,” fostering the careers of accomplished scientists and spreading his vision of personalized precision dosing to improve the standard of care for patients.
Tesfaye Mersha, PhD
Division of Asthma Research
Tesfaye Mersha, PhD, quickly distinguished himself at Cincinnati Children’s by establishing an independent research program and securing funding from federal and institutional grants.
His research combines quantitative, ancestry and statistical genomics to study genetic and non-genetic contributions to complex diseases and racial disparities, particularly asthma and asthma-related allergic disorders. A recognized expert in the field, Dr. Mersha has published 50 peer-reviewed articles, including 33 in which he was first or senior author. In 2016, he was awarded over $3.5 million from the NIH. He has lectured at national and international conferences, and moderated a panel on use of ancestry, race and ethnicity in biomedical research at a recent NIH conference.
Dr. Mersha and his team developed the first web-based bioinformatics tool to retrieve ancestry-information markers from the genomic database — a tool that already has been used by more than 11,000 registered users worldwide.
His teaching activities include mentoring graduate students and fellows, and serving on the faculty of the Immunology and the Biomedical Informatics graduate programs.
Sing Sing Way, MD, PhD
Division of Infectious Diseases
Sing Sing Way, MD, PhD, works in an important but understudied area, investigating immune pathogenesis of prenatal infection and pregnancy complications. His colleagues describe him as outstanding, dedicated, profoundly creative and an internationally renowned star.
Dr. Way’s high-impact research has progressed at a remarkably fast pace, as reflected in his growing extramural funding, and by an impressive series of publications in leading journals. In just the past two years, he has published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Immunity, Cell and Cell Reports.
Dr. Way’s research has the potential to change the way we think about infectious complications of pregnancy, and to open the way for better approaches to prenatal and early postnatal infections.
Professional admiration for Dr. Way’s groundbreaking research is evident in the impressive awards he has won. In 2016, he received the inaugural Gale and Ira Drukier Prize in Children’s Health Research, the E. Mead Johnson Award, the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award and was appointed a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Faculty Scholar.
Michal Kouril, PhD
Division of Biomedical Informatics
As director of Research IT services in the Division of Biomedical Informatics, Michal Kouril, PhD, has transformed the research computing environment here. Over the last nine years, he has built an exceptional data and technology infrastructure that surpasses the capabilities at other pediatric institutions and has powered significant research advances.
Dr. Kouril’s contributions to the research environment impact thousands of researchers, supporting basic, translational and clinical science across Cincinnati Children’s. His list of accomplishments includes establishing a robust research network environment; initiating a dedicated data exchange system with UC; designing and implementing a self-service research data storage network connecting research divisions; supporting the infrastructure for Cincinnati Children’s clinical research data warehouse; helping develop best practice policies to meet and exceed federal, state and institutional mandates; and establishing a monthly research IT training series.
Thanks to his efforts, Cincinnati Children’s has greatly increased capabilities for technology-related projects, as is evidenced by dramatic growth in high performance computing cores, research servers, research databases, research storage capability and users.
Edith Markoff, PhD
Talent Acquisition, Human Resources Department
Edith Markoff, PhD, joined Cincinnati Children’s in 1989 as a research scientist. Over the course of her career, she has been a model for service to the institution extending far beyond her own laboratory.
In 1993, Dr. Markoff established the Dog Visitation Program with the goal of making the hospital more homelike and reducing stress for patients. She reviews each volunteer dog, including a behavioral evaluation, before scheduling it for visits. In fiscal year 2016, the program’s 47 dogs and their handlers gave nearly 1,000 hours of service, visiting patients at many Cincinnati Children’s facilities. Recently the program expanded to offer dog visits for employees in high stress areas.
Dr. Markoff moved to the Scientific Recruitment Team in 2003. She has worked tirelessly to identify and hire outstanding research support staff. Her hires number in the thousands, impacting the laboratories of virtually every research faculty member.
Since 2015, she also has managed Physician and Faculty Transition Services, helping new faculty make a smooth transition to Cincinnati Children’s.
Comprehensive Fertility Care and Preservation Program
Lesley Breech, MD (Gynecology); Holly Hoefgen, MD, (Gynecology); Karen Burns, MD (Oncology); Christine Phillips, MD (Oncology); Kasiani Myers, MD (Oncology); Pramod Reddy, MD (Urology); David Witte, MD (Pathology)
The Comprehensive Fertility Care and Preservation Program (CFCPP), established in 2009, was one of the first US pediatric programs focused on preserving fertility in patients receiving intensive chemotherapy for cancer. The program later expanded to include other diseases and therapies. The CFCPP team has redefined the standard of care for patients receiving therapies that potentially compromise reproductive health.
The team excels at technically demanding procedures, has implemented innovative process improvements, and has tackled complex cultural and values issues underlying patients’ decisions.
Today Cincinnati Children’s is one of the few facilities to provide the full range of fertility preservation options for both genders and all age groups. CFCPP has performed the most pediatric fertility preservation procedures in females in the nation. It has developed the first pediatric-specific tool to help patients and families make decisions about fertility preservation. And the CFCPP team is able to provide rapid consultation to more than 90% of eligible patients — a particularly impressive achievement when compared to the national average of about 50%.
Center for Pulmonary Imaging Research
Jason Woods, PhD (Pulmonary Medicine and Radiology); Zackary Cleveland, PhD (Pulmonary Medicine and Radiology); Robert Fleck, MD (Radiology); Jean Tkach, PhD (Radiology)
The Center for Pulmonary Imaging Research (CPIR), directed by Jason Woods, PhD, was launched in 2013 to conduct collaborative research focused on functional and structural imaging of the developing and diseased lung.
Its’ multidisciplinary team exemplifies the spirit of collaboration. Together they are creating the optimal environment for team science.
In a short time, the CPIR team has gained attention through participation at high-profile meetings and contributions to high-quality journals. Since the CPIR was formed, team members have been awarded external grant funding of more than $4.2 million in direct costs, and have facilitated successful collaboration with national and international partners.
One NIH-funded study of cystic fibrosis patients now underway is using new MRI methods to safely and non-invasively monitor disease progression and the efficacy of therapy over time. This approach to quantifying change in regional structure and function has garnered international attention and pushed Cincinnati Children’s to the forefront in the use of an emerging technology in pediatric lung disease.
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