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Children's Mercy Attracts Top Pediatric Researchers

The Center for Pediatric Genomic Medicine at Children's Mercy was established in 2011. (Children's Mercy Kansas City)
The Center for Pediatric Genomic Medicine at Children's Mercy was established in 2011. (Children's Mercy Kansas City)
February 28, 2018

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City is on its way to becoming an international hub in genomic research and the fight against pediatric diseases.

Two major endowments totaling $150 million last month are being used to lure top-notch pediatric research scientists to study and combat rare diseases in children.

Dr. Tomi Pastinen is director of the Center for Pediatric Genomic Medicine. He led a genomic research lab in Montreal for 15 years before taking a position at Children's Mercy last year. Pastinen says the availability to help patients so close to him drew his interest.

"And the whole team taking care of patients which really allows us to rapidly deploy genomic tools in more or less a bedside manner," he says.

Children's Mercy already features the first genome centers in a children's hospital. The genome research aims toward finding solutions for complex issues in kids regarding DNA sequencing and analysis, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

The genome research facility looks at ways to understand and treat diseases in infants, as well as fully grasp diseases such as diabetes that are caused by genetics and environmental factors. Dr. Pastinen says their work will increase the amount of genomic research done at the hospital by more than two-fold.

"It's big news in terms of getting the infrastructure to allow us to grow in directions in genomic medicine and other areas of pediatric research, that we think we should be going and building up the new research focus of Children's Mercy," he explains.

The two $75 million donations were made by the Hall Family Foundation and Sunderland Foundation. The new research institute - located in downtown Kansas City - will offer more than five times the amount of space than the current facility, standing nine stories tall with roughly 375,000 square feet.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - MO