Honoring his pivotal role in transforming fetal surgery from the theoretical to the routine, the Association for Clinical and Translational Science (ACTS) has awarded N. Scott Adzick, MD, Surgeon-in-Chief at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), the 2021 ACTS Distinguished Investigator Award for Translation from Proof-of-Concept to Widespread Clinical Practice.
Adzick has long been recognized as a leader in the field of fetal medicine and has dedicated his career to pursuing groundbreaking prenatal treatments for birth defects. During his postdoctoral appointment at University of California, San Francisco, he and his research colleagues developed fetal surgical techniques using animal models, some of the first research ever done on this practice, which at the time was still in its infancy.
Those early studies laid the groundwork for performing fetal surgery at CHOP’s Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment (CFDT), which Adzick founded in 1995. The CFDT is now the largest and most comprehensive fetal program in the world, with expectant mothers from all 50 states and more than 70 countries traveling to CHOP to receive treatment for their unborn babies. Adzick and his colleagues in the CFDT have performed more than 2,000 fetal surgeries and cared for more than 25,000 expectant mothers, making the procedure a widespread and life-changing option for babies and families.
Even with fetal surgery now a well-established practice, Adzick has continued to publish on the practice and explore ways to improve the methods and outcomes. He was a lead investigator for the landmark National Institutes of Health (NIH) Management of Myelomeningocele Study (MOMS), which demonstrated that fetal surgery could significantly improve outcomes for children with spina bifida; the findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2011. He has since co-authored several other studies demonstrating that these benefits endure up to ten years into childhood, leading to better mobility and quality of life for patients who undergo fetal surgery.
“I am honored to receive this award from ACTS, which feels like a culmination of work that began several decades ago and now has helped so many families,” Adzick said. “It’s immensely gratifying to see an idea that at one time seemed purely theoretical become widespread practice, offering an improved future to so many children.”
ACTS, a non-profit membership association of translational scientists from the nation’s leading academic medical centers, presents its annual Translational Science Awards to recognize investigators for their outstanding contributions to the clinical research and translational science field. The ACTS Distinguished Investigator Award for Translation from Proof-of-Concept to Widespread Clinical Practice recognizes the senior investigator whose innovative research or education leadership has had a major impact on or through clinical and translational science, specifically in the realm of implementation and dissemination of translational solutions to illness and clinical problems.
“This past year, we have seen the massive mobilization of the full breadth and complexity of clinical and translational science and we have observed achievements never before dreamed of,” said ACTS President Christopher Lindsell, PhD. “These awards reflect the outstanding contributions of our community of clinical and translational scientists, and their enduring commitment to healing and to the health of the world.”