Funding Supports Creation of Chair in Urology and Center for Machine Learning

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Urology Update

Cheers for CHOP is an annual event that raises funds to help Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) provide top-notch pediatric care, advance innovative research, and share knowledge with the world. Funds raised through the last year’s Cheers for CHOP event (which occurred at the end of February 2020, before the COVID shutdown) helped to create the Cheers for CHOP Chair in the Clinical Epidemiology of Pediatric Urologic Disease. Endowed chairs are one of the most meaningful and permanent forms of giving. They help CHOP attract and retain the most talented physicians and researchers, and then provide them with resources and opportunities to propel new research and exceptional patient care.

Gregory Tasian MD, MSc, MSCE Gregory Tasian MD, MSc, MSCE The hospital appointed world-renowned pediatric kidney stone expert Gregory Tasian, MD, MSc, MSCE, as the inaugural holder of the Cheers for CHOP Chair. The chair will support the development of innovative medical and surgical therapies that have a worldwide impact for children and adolescents with urologic conditions.

Dr. Tasian’s research group leverages machine learning, large data analytics, behavioral economics, nutritional profiling and human biospecimen analysis to explore the causes of kidney stones and identify better treatments. Applying machine learning to automatically measure features of kidney stones, they predict how likely they are to pass. They also use deep learning and neural networks to identify children most likely to benefit from early intervention to preserve kidney function. Also, Dr. Tasian’s large microbiome research program recently linked pediatric kidney stones with oral antibiotics and disruption of the gut microbiome — a discovery that could lead to new therapies.

On the clinical trial front, Dr. Tasian leads:

  • The Pediatric KIDney Stone (PKIDS) Care Improvement Network, which includes 25 sites in the U.S. and is conducting the largest ever study comparing stone clearance and patients’ experience after three common types of kidney stone surgery
  • The Prevention of Urinary Stones with Hydration study, which seeks new ways to lower kidney stone recurrence using mobile technology (smart water bottles), behavioral economics and coaching
  • An investigation into the causes and predictors of stent symptoms after endoscopic surgery for kidney stones

Funds raised through Cheers for CHOP will accelerate the critical research being led by Dr. Tasian, providing answers to the unknowns and hope for families battling a challenging diagnosis.

“The support from Cheers for CHOP will further our ability to generate and apply knowledge to improve the lives of children with urologic disease,” says Dr. Tasian. “I am deeply honored to be the steward.”

In addition, a collection of grants are allowing researchers at CHOP to establish a Center for Machine Learning in Urology, with the goal of improving the understanding the pathophysiology, risk stratification, identification of novel therapeutic targets, and prediction of treatment responses of benign urological diseases among children and adults.

Gregory Tasian, MD, MSc, MSCE, attending urologist and associate professor of Surgery and Epidemiology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, will lead the center, which is a joint venture between CHOP and Penn.

“Over the last 5 to 10 years, data have become bigger and more complex, and along with that is the challenge of how to efficiently and effectively analyze those data,” says Dr. Tasian. “Machine learning is one of those tools that can handle that complexity. Specifically in urology, there are tremendous knowledge gaps across the lifespan, and many of those knowledge gaps exist because we haven’t had the tools to analyze some of those data.”

In addition to the research goals, Dr. Tasian anticipates the center will serve as an infrastructure that will allow for the dissemination of the knowledge gained, and it will serve as a forum for mentoring and training at CHOP and other institutions.

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