Current Research Projects

Basic Sciences

Lung Pathophysiology: (SR Seidner, DC McCurnin, AG Moreira, SB Mustafa)

  • Regulation of surfactant expression during lung development and injury
  • Functional properties of stem cells during lung disease
  • Respiratory mechanical functions in neonatal lung disease
  • Sodium channel function

Insulin Signaling Pathways and Metabolic Studies: (CL Blanco, SR Seidner, DC McCurnin)

  • Developmental regulation of key gluconeogenic molecules
  • Ontogeny of pancreatic development
  • Antenatal corticosteroids and insulin effector molecules in a premature model
  • Insulin sensitivity and metabolic disruption in prematurity

Resources and Core Service Facilities for Basic Science Studies:

  • Laboratories equipped for molecular biology and cellular physiology experimentation, cell culture, and WB/PCR analysis
  • Separate laboratory for small/preterm animal ventilation (capable of ventilating 20 premature animals simultaneously)
  • Access to core facilities including Genomics, Proteomics, Optical and Electron microscopy imaging, and Flow cytometry

Translational Sciences

IV Nutrition Therapies and Metabolic Interventions: (CL Blanco, AK Gong)

  •  Amino acid levels in premature infants
  •  Intralipid solutions and markers of liver disease

Neonatal Diseases: (CL Blanco, SR Seidner, DC McCurnin)

  • Necrotizing enterocolitis: Role of TGFb
  • Kidney, Liver disease
  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus in Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia                   

Precision Medicine; TX BPDSeq: (AG Moreira)

  • A multi-site initiative program that utilizes novel approaches for predicting BPD
  • Well-phenotyped cohort of very low birth weight neonates at risk for developing BPD
  • Collection of biospecimens (urine, stool, tracheal aspirates, umbilical cord tissue
  • Creating a multi-omic approach (epigenomic, transcriptomic, proteomic, metabolomic, etc.) to understand the mechanisms underlying the development of BPD.

Regenerative Medicine; Stem cell-based therapeutic approaches: (AG Moreira, SR Seidner, CL Blanco, DC McCurnin, SB Mustafa)

  • Hypoxic-Ischemic injury in neonates.
  • Bronchopulmonary dysplasia/lung disease in preterm neonates.

Resources and Core Service Facilities for Translational Studies:

  •     Unique Preterm Large Animal NICU for in vivo investigations with on-going multinational translational studies.
  •     Ability to perform pre-clinical trials.

Clinical Investigations

Clinical Center for Neonatal and Childhood Research

Our multidisciplinary research team includes research coordinators, assistants/associates, nurses, dietitians, and a database team.  We are located at University Hospital in San Antonio, Texas. We are part of the Vermont Oxford Network.

We conduct clinical trials in many areas including neonatal lung disease, neonatal nutrition, neonatal neurodevelopment, neonatal infectious disease, pediatric endocrinology, pediatric pulmonary/CF, pediatric gastroenterology, pediatric ophthalmology/retina, pediatric allergy-immunology, pediatric cardiology, and child abuse.

We currently have eighty-seven open clinical research studies/clinical trials in the Department of Pediatrics. Of those, 27% are led by the Neonatology Division.

Neonatal Infectious Diseases (JB Cantey)

Antimicrobial Stewardship Support in South Texas (ASSIST) Program:

  • Designed to deliver antimicrobial stewardship support to rural or medically underserved nurseries
  • The ASSIST-1 trial demonstrated safe and effective reduction in antibiotic use for infants in the well-baby or intermediate care nurseries in South Texas.
  • ASSIST-2 is aimed at disseminating and implementing the program throughout all of rural Texas.
  • The proposed ASSIST-3 trial is intended to study the dissemination of the program to remote states with large rural networks, such as Montana or Alaska.
  • ·NICU Antibiotics and Outcomes (NANO) Trial:
  • Goal is to study the longstanding clinical practice of empirically administering intravenous antibiotics to extremely low birth weight infants in the first days of life.
  •  802-subject, multi-center, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial
  • Hypothesis: the incidence of adverse outcomes is higher in babies receiving empiric antibiotics in the first week of life compared to babies receiving placebo.
  • Primary outcomes: composite of late-onset sepsis, necrotizing enterocolitis, or death during the index hospitalization.
  • Site principal investigator

RSV Vaccine for Pregnant Women:

  • Phase 3, randomized double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial to evaluate the efficacy and safety of an RSV subunit vaccine in infants born to women vaccinated during pregnancy
  • Site co-investigator (primary investigator for pediatrics)

Neonatal Nutrition and Bone Institute (NNBI) (CL Blanco, AG Moreira, AK Gong, DC McCurnin, E Brownell, J McGrath)

This is a Premiere Center for the Healthy Development of Neonates. Our team of experts includes neonatologists, dieticians, gastroenterologists, neonatal pharmacists, NICU nurses, hospitalists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, social workers and psychologists.

 Current Trials and Observational Investigations:

  • Short gut/bowel syndrome, gastroschisis, duodenal, jejunal or ileal atresia, intestinal dysmotility through the intestinal/liver failure program
  • Parenteral Nutrition Associated Cholestasis (PNAC) and novel approaches
  • Feeding difficulty and poor growth with body composition outcome analyses
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis and novel therapeutic approach
  • Extreme prematurity and metabolic bone disease
  • Iron overload in ECMO Patients
  • Genetic disparities and early effects of intrauterine environmental exposures

What the NNBI Offers:

  •  An individual health plan designed to meet the neonate’s specific needs
  •  Diagnostic testing, such as body composition, bone mineral density and bone strength with DXA scan and air displacement plethysmography
  •  Diagnostic studies, such as endoscopy, colonoscopy and biopsy
  •  Clinical research trials
  •  Donor breast milk program

Neonatal Newborn Follow-up, Screening, Breastfeeding Initiative (AK Gong, AR Quinn, AG Moreira)

Family Nurture Invention:

  • Randomized controlled trial with families learning to co-regulate with their infant versus control to see effect on brain wave development at term equivalent using 132 lead EEG
  • Developmental anomalies associated with oral feeding
  • Retinopathy of prematurity
  • Early cerebral Palsy (CP) diagnosis