A new partnership between Florida State University’s Family and Child Community Research and Advocacy Center and UF Health at the University of Florida aims to improve outcomes for pediatric transplant patients and their families.
The Initiative to Advance Pediatric Transplant Health Research maximizes the interdisciplinary nature of pediatric transplant health research through the collaboration of a statewide network of health researchers and clinicians.
“This initiative aligns with the mission of the College of Social Work and our institutes and centers to apply research to the social problems that plague the vulnerable populations we seek to help,” said Craig Stanley, interim dean and faculty member of the College in social affairs at FSU work. “Evidence-based research is a cornerstone of ethical and effective social work practice.”
Patient survival rates after organ transplantation remain high in pediatric patients and continue to improve. Despite improvements, concerns remain about rates of hospitalization, organ rejection, and poor health outcomes after transplant for those children and adolescents who experience greater challenges.
Michael Killian, an associate professor in the College of Social Work and a researcher at the center, will lead the initiative’s research efforts. Dr. Dipankar Gupta, associate professor of pediatric cardiology, pediatric heart failure and transplantation at UF’s Center for Congenital Heart Disease, will lead the study.
Through the initiative, Killian, Gupta and interdisciplinary collaborators will improve existing research and methodologies, expand research partnerships beyond FSU and UF, and create new research opportunities to improve health data and outcomes for pediatric transplant patients and their families.
“This initiative is an opportunity to advance pediatric organ transplant research and to develop collaborations between multiple pediatric transplant centers,” Kilian said. “We know how important it is to support these patients and their families, and we hope that these research efforts can help us identify at-risk patients and families and inform our efforts to improve their quality of life and outcomes after transplant.” Pediatric transplant research not only benefits the health and lives of patients and families, but has far-reaching implications for improving the quality of care in multiple pediatric health care settings.”
He added, “We are extremely grateful for the collaborative support from the Community, Family, and Child Research and Promotion Center at the FSU College of Social Work, the FSU College of Medicine, UF Health and our collaborative Institute for Clinical and Translational Sciences.”
The initiative will focus on three research areas: advanced biostatistical modeling around patient adherence to immunosuppressive drugs; machine learning/health informatics in predicting health outcomes after transplantation; and mobile health/technology-based intervention research promoting treatment adherence and improved health outcomes in adolescent heart transplant recipients.
Efforts focus on the need for consistent pre- and post-transplant care data that include psychosocial assessments to improve treatment adherence, which then leads to improved post-transplant outcomes.
“Despite advances in medicine and surgery, we have room to improve post-transplant outcomes,” Gupta said. “The impact of psychosocial aspects and family dynamics on post-transplant outcomes is complex and should not be underestimated. Therefore, it is prudent to continue to improve our understanding of nonmedical factors such as social determinants of health that influence outcomes in pediatric transplantation.”
“At the center, we are thrilled to be at the forefront of this initiative, supporting Dr. Killian, Dr. Gupta, and their colleagues to continue advancing life-saving research for children and families in Florida and the nation, even around the world,” said Ellen Piekalkiewicz. center director.