Thyroid Disease Research

The members of the Pediatric Thyroid Center at CHOP are committed to improving the way we evaluate and care for children and adolescents with thyroid disease. Our research is divided into two different categories: clinical and basic science research.

The goal of the Pediatric Thyroid Center at CHOP is to improve the lifelong health of children with thyroid disease, and research is a key to achieving this goal.

As a member of our Center, your family may be asked to participate in a variety of different research projects. Whether you choose to participate or not will not change the care your child receives. We encourage you to ask questions and to ask us if there are ongoing research protocols that you may be eligible to join.

Together we can — and will— make a difference.

Clinical research in thyroid disease

The foundation of our clinical research is our database where we securely collect and store medical information about our patients and their families. Over time, as more patients and information are added to the database, we will use the information to look back and determine if our current approach to evaluation and care is ideal, or if there are areas where we can change our approach in an effort to improve how we take care of our patients.

Other clinical projects explore new techniques for evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disease. Some of these projects are focused on finding new techniques to improve our ability to diagnose whether a thyroid nodule is cancerous or benign. Others are focused on finding techniques to decrease the risks associated with thyroid surgery, including improved techniques to find residual thyroid cancer.

Thyroid tissue bank and basic science research

Our clinical database is also associated with a tissue bank were we store thyroid tissue that was removed during surgery. The tissue bank allows us to explore genetic changes as well as changes in cell signaling pathways to help us understand why children develop thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer, and why the cancer behaves differently in a child or adolescent compared to an adult.

The tissue bank also provides an opportunity for us to find markers that may help us more accurately identify if a tumor is benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous), as well as predict how a thyroid tumor may behave and respond to therapy. Ultimately, this type of information will allow us to individualize care, using more intensive treatment for tumors that are predicted to be more aggressive in their behavior, and less intensive treatment for tumors that we predict will require less treatment to achieve remission.

Quality-of-life studies

We are also very interested in gaining a better understanding of what it means to be a child or adolescent with thyroid disease; what the impact of evaluation, diagnosis and treatment has been on our patients as well as their siblings and parents. By being involved in these “quality of life” studies you contribute to our efforts to ensure that our patients are not only successfully treated but go on to lead productive lives.