Hospital Week 2015: A look at the work being done at Phoenix Children’s Hospital
As National Hospital Week begins, we as a community can celebrate the important contributions that hospitals and their dedicated employees make to the lives of Valley residents. In the realm of pediatric and adult medicine, the many points of interaction between physicians and patients are healing and sometimes even lifesaving events. These are the moments that we see and experience, but during this week we should also take pause to applaud the role of research and technology in delivering world-class patient outcomes.
Research and technology have always been at the core of health care advancement. We see this in medical device innovation − over 30 years ago the first artificial heart was implanted in Barney Clark. Today, right here at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, in collaboration with Arizona State University’s Bioengineering Dept., we are creating the first of its kind, patient-specific 3-D printed heart models. The 3-D heart models are used by our medical staff to explain a patient’s condition to families, review surgical planning and even test a procedure before the surgeon enters the operating room.
Research in the laboratory is finding life improving and lifesaving medications. The recent FDA approval of Harvoni, a cure for those with Hepatitis C in 94 percent of cases, is an example of the amazing power of clinical trials and research capabilities.
What new innovations and medications will be discovered in the coming years? Perhaps cures for cancer, Alzheimer’s or diabetes are forthcoming as a researcher today works feverishly to unlock a new discovery.
One of the most intriguing areas on which research is focusing is the field of molecular biology and genetics. Genomic research will lead to scientific breakthroughs, with faster and more accurate diagnosis, discovery of new genes, understanding of the molecular mechanisms responsible for various diseases, and identification of ways to correct these malfunctioning genes – with solutions that are unimaginable today, just as the medical care that we take for granted now was unthinkable even just a few decades ago.
To this end the field of precision medicine will benefit greatly by the uncovering of 3 billion bases or large parts of it that comprise a person’s genome. Last year we announced a breakthrough partnership between Phoenix Children’s Hospital and the Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation. The new Chan Soon-Shiong Children’s Precision Medicine Institute at Phoenix Children’s Hospital developed this partnership with a commitment to genomic technology and its implications for pediatric medicine. There is so much undeveloped capacity and opportunity in the field of genomics that research facilities hospitals, medical schools and health centers are seizing on the means and the resources to harness the energy in this space.
At Phoenix Children’s we are making a deep commitment to the research component of health care, as are hospitals and institutions around the globe. There is collaboration in research as there also is competition − forces not opposed to each other − but necessary components in driving the entrepreneurial spirit of discovery and innovation.
As we pay tribute to the professionals of health care during National Hospital Week, let us remember the critical impact that research and technology play in the delivery of high quality patient experiences and outcomes.
Dr. Nazneen Aziz is senior vice president of research and chief research officer at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.