The Pediatric Research Center is the research arm of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. The Center is home to leading research scientists whose work focuses on identifying the causes of disorders that affect children. The investigators are involved in clinical, basic and translational research and are experts in the fields of birth defects, gene discovery, transgenic mouse genetics, lung biology, immunology, protein biochemistry and cell imaging. Investigators have a diverse set of skills and interests encompassing gene identification in common complex birth defects such as cleft lip and palate, spina bifida and clubfoot, delineation of developmental abnormalities that affect the brain as is seen in autism and Tuberous Sclerosis, cartilage abnormalities that affect linear growth and cause dwarfism, processes related to lung and muscle development and maturation and, immunological and infectious diseases. The research team/group is comprised of Drs. Alcorn, Au, Colasurdo, Fakhouri, Hashmi, Hecht, Iwata, Johnston, Komatsu, Letra, Liu, Miller, Northrup, Posey, Rhoads, Silva, and Tran.
Birth disabilities, developmental disorders, and prematurity affect up to 25% of newborns and children and translate into significant health care burdens for families and society. They are also a leading cause of mortality in children. While many of these conditions have a genetic etiology or are caused solely by environmental exposures, other disorders result from both genetic and environmental interactions. However, the cause is not known in a significant number of these disorders. The long-term goal of the investigators of the Pediatric Research Center is to delineate the causes of birth, developmental and immunological disorders and to translate their findings into better prevention and care of sick children, and in some cases, effect a cure.