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Helping sick children

September 10, 2015 — 

Every year, more than 50,000 babies are born with a disease called congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH). These babies have a hole in their diaphragm and abnormal lung development. All of these babies will have difficulty breathing after they are born and almost 1/3 will die as a result of their abnormal lung development. Researchers do not currently understand why the lungs of these babies develop abnormally or how to treat it.

On September 14 and 15, 2015, a experts from around the world, including the University of Manitoba’s Richard Keijzer, will meet at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto with parents and patients to discuss the latest research on CDH during the biennial International CDH Workshop.

Over the course of two days, the speakers will cover a broad range of topics from embryology and genetics to prenatal, perinatal and surgical therapies as well as outcomes research.

Highlights of the workshop include a parents’ and patients’ perspective on CDH; selected abstracts from young investigators all over the world to complement the expert presentations, including five of the best being presented in a special session; and a multi-disciplinary panel that will include clinical and patient/parent representatives.

The goal of the workshop is to promote information sharing, educate and foster dialogue between clinicians, scientists and CDH patients.  Ultimately, we aim to improve the outcome of babies with CDH.

Organizers for the Workshop are Dr. Richard Keijzer, Thorlakson Chair in Surgical Research and Research Director for the Department of Surgery at the University of Manitoba; Dr. Priscilla Chiu, Dr. Agostino Pierro and Dr. Martin Post from the University of Toronto.

Richard Keijzer is a pediatric surgeon-scientist in the Department of Surgery and The Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba.  Dr. Keijzer’s clinical interest concentrates on minimal invasive pediatric surgery and his research focuses on congenital anomalies in general and congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) and abnormal lung development in particular. CDH is a developmental defect of the diaphragm and it affects one in 2000 – 3000 newborns. It accounts for approximately 8% of the known major birth defects. Every year approximately hundred babies are born with CDH in Canada. Although surgical closure of the diaphragmatic defect is relatively easy, children with CDH suffer from their abnormal lung development. The pathogenesis of CDH and abnormal lung development is currently unknown.

Keijzer has expertise in mechanisms of normal and abnormal lung development due to CDH. His laboratory focuses on the role of two microRNAs: miR -10a and miR-200b during normal and abnormal lung development due to CDH. In the near future he wants to explore methods for prenatal therapeutic interventions to modulate the natural course of abnormal lung development and CDH to improve the outcome of babies born with this devastating anomaly. Keijzer strongly believes that improving our understanding of lung development and CDH will positively influence the outcome of these babies.

Research at the University of Manitoba is partially supported by funding from the Government of Canada Research Support Fund.

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