Department of Pediatrics Annual Report – 2020

Global Health

Partnerships around the globe improve the health and security of children everywhere

Faculty in the Department of Pediatrics partner with health professionals across the globe to improve the health and security of children worldwide through research, clinical care, and training projects. Our collaborations cover a range of areas, including:

Colloquium on Children and Health Catastrophes

In April 2019 the department hosted the Colloquium on Children and Health Catastrophes, bringing together experts in pediatrics, bioethics, and related disciplines to refine the goals set by the 2014 Global Health Security Agenda and ensure that countries have an acceptable level of pediatric readiness to deal with epidemics and other catastrophic events. This work builds on the Children's Hospitals in Africa Mapping Project (CHAMP), which is assessing the readiness of pediatric institutions in 13 African countries to deal with catastrophic events (Philip LaRussa, MD; Lawrence Stanberry, MD, PhD).

Lawrence R. Stanberry, MD, PhD, Lectureship in Global Child Health

The Stanberry lectureship, launched in 2018, honors Lawrence Stanberry, MD, PhD, who led the Department of Pediatrics as chair from 2008 to 2018. Dr. Stanberry, a renowned pediatrician and virologist, is also passionate about global health. He is currently director of the Columbia Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons Program for Education in Global and Population Health and a professor of pediatrics. The two Stanberry lectures to date include:

  • 2019: "Vaccines, Child Welfare and the Biology of Hope" - Fernando Stein, MD, 2017 President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Texas Children’s & Baylor College of Medicine
  • 2018: "Autism and Blue Marble Health" - Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, Dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine; Professor, Departments of Pediatrics and Molecular Virology & Microbiology, Baylor College of Medicine

Spotlighted Projects

Burden and Risk of Neurological and Cognitive Impairment in Pediatric Sickle Cell Anemia in Uganda (BRAIN SAFE)

Stroke commonly occurs in children with sickle cell anemia (SCA) due to sickle cerebral vasculopathy (SCV) injury. Pediatric hematologist Nancy Green, MD, and colleagues at Makerere University School of Medicine in Kampala, Uganda, have formed the research program BRAIN SAFE and recently launched an NIH-funded trial to test hydroxyurea as a brain protectant in children followed at the university’s primary SCA clinic.

CHAMPS Impact Fund: Pan-African Neonatal Care Assessment Survey (PANCAS)

A team from pediatrics (Lawrence Stanberry, MD, PhD; Philip LaRussa, MD; Lisa Saiman, MD, MPH; Wilmot James, PhD) is assessing the state of neonatal infection control measures in a sample of 60 hospitals across Africa. This project, with support from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will build upon the Columbia University/ELMA Foundation Children’s Hospital in Africa Mapping Project (CHAMP), which provides a comprehensive assessment of the size, infrastructure, surge capacity, resources, services, staffing, programs, and policies of children’s hospitals.

International Initiative for Pediatrics and Nutrition (IIPAN)

Through the International Initiative for Pediatrics and Nutrition (IIPAN), Elena Ladas, PhD, RDS, and colleagues are partnering with the World Health Organization to introduce the important role of nutritional care in pediatric cancer treatment to low- and middle-income countries around the world.

Nutrition Initiatives to Improve Maternal, Infant, and Young Child Health Outcomes

Columbia’s Institute for Human Nutrition (IHN) has an ongoing relationship with universities and non-governmental organizations working on nutrition research and education in the Republic of Armenia. In 2011, working with the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR), IHN faculty members Richard Deckelbaum, MD, and Kim Hekimian, PhD, conducted an assessment of child nutrition issues in Armenia.

Nutrition Conferences and Projects in Collaboration with Palestinian Agencies

For the past decade, UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and Juzoor for Health and Social Development, a leading Palestinian health institution, in collaboration with Columbia’s Institute of Human Nutrition (Richard Deckelbaum, MD) have organized biennial nutrition conferences related to nutrition in Palestine. A recent conference focused on childhood obesity among Palestinian refugee children and a follow-up project on screening overweight/obese children for risk factors of cardiovascular disease is in the planning stages.

Development of Pediatric Liver Transplant Programs in Latin America

Liver transplantation is the standard of care for children with end-stage liver diseases and certain metabolic disorders and cases of liver tumors. Children in North America have a high probability of surviving after a liver transplant, but many children with end-stage liver disease in Latin America and the Caribbean die because they lack access to care, due to scarcity of liver transplant centers. Members of Columbia University (Mercedes Martinez, MD) are part of FundaHigado America (, an organization committed to training teams in their local environments, providing on-site education and support until they are able to perform the procedure on their own.

Epidemiology of Sporadic Retinoblastoma in Mexico (EpiRbMx)

As part of a collaborative study with hospitals and agencies in Mexico, Manuela Orjuela-Grimm, MD, is examining the effects of early life exposure to folate/folic acid in the diet, genetic variation in the metabolism of folate, and genetic and epigenetic changes in RB1 and in the development of sporadic retinoblastoma in central Mexico. EpiRbMx has also lead to work examining the impact of fortification of the wheat and corn flour in Mexican dietary intake.


From a Slum in India to Leading Bone Marrow Transplant Specialist in U.S.

Prakash Satwani, MD, on how his brother’s death inspired him to help kids with leukemia in the U.S. and India.