Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia President and CEO Releases Special COVID-19 Podcast Series

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When the COVID-19 pandemic began earlier this year, doctors and researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) rapidly pivoted to focus on defeating the novel virus. Across the hospital, members of the CHOP team – from infectious disease researchers to population health experts – mobilized to better understand COVID-19 and find new ways to diagnose and treat it.

Breaking Through with Madeline Bell podcast ad In “Where We Are Now,” a five-episode special series of her popular podcast Breaking Through with Madeline Bell, CHOP President and CEO Madeline Bell speaks with five CHOP researchers about the COVID-19-related work they are leading – and about what gives them hope during this challenging time. With episodes focused on everything from a modeling tool that forecasts the spread of the virus across more than 500 U.S. counties to a unique COVID-19 test developed in the CHOP labs, the series takes listeners on a journey from the beginning of the pandemic to where we are now.

Episode 1: Dr. Susan Coffin: Transmission

What makes COVID-19 different from other infectious diseases? Pediatric infectious disease specialist Susan Coffin, MD, MPH, discusses her research on how the SARS-CoV-2 virus is transmitted, talks about how the virus affects children, and shares advice to help parents and families make decisions about everything from playdates to sports.

Episode 2: Dr. David Rubin: Modeling

While many institutions across the country were modeling the trajectory of COVID-19 at the national level, David Rubin, MD, and his colleagues at CHOP’s PolicyLab took a more innovative approach: They mapped the spread of the virus at the county level. More than 500 U.S. counties are included in the PolicyLab model, which has been used by local and state policymakers, as well as the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Dr. Rubin discusses how the model came to fruition and shares the most surprising – and important – thing researchers have learned from it.

Episode 3: Dr. Rebecca Harris: Testing

Testing is one of the most important tools we have to track and stop the spread of COVID-19, but it comes with many challenges. Rebecca Harris, MD, Director of CHOP’s Infectious Disease Diagnostics Laboratory, shares the story of how CHOP developed its own COVID-19 test early in the pandemic and describes how her team is finding ways to do more tests, faster, as the pandemic continues.

Episode 4: Dr. Audrey Odom John: Research

Could dogs’ noses hold the answer to a better COVID-19 diagnostic test? Audrey Odom John, MD, PhD, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at CHOP, discusses her efforts to develop a COVID-19 breathalyzer test with help from some four-legged friends – and shares the questions CHOP researchers most want to answer about the disease.

Episode 5: Dr. Edward Behrens: MIS-C

In the spring, doctors began noticing a mysterious inflammatory condition in children that involved fever, rashes, diarrhea and vomiting. Now known as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, or MIS-C, the rare syndrome seems to be a postviral inflammatory response to COVID-19. Edward Behrens, MD, Chief of the Division of Rheumatology and Director of the Immune Dysregulation Frontier Program, discusses what his team has discovered about MIS-C and what gives him hope for the future.

“Where We Are Now” is part of Madeline Bell’s podcast, Breaking Through, which takes listeners behind the scenes to meet the brilliant minds who are making and supporting incredible breakthroughs in pediatric medicine at CHOP. The podcast, which began in 2018, has featured a range of experts, including Stephan Grupp, MD, PhD, the oncologist who pioneered CAR T-cell immunotherapy for cancer at CHOP, and Jesse Taylor, MD, and Gregory Heuer, MD, PhD, the surgeons who led a team that separated conjoined twins in 2016. Each of the 16 episodes explores the visionary research that is driving cutting-edge clinical care at CHOP – and the role philanthropy plays in this important work.

Contact: Natalie Solimeo, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 267-426-6246 or