Through PURM, I had the wonderful opportunity to work in the CHOP Neonatology department with Dr. Erik Jensen and Dr. Sara DeMauro. In various care sites, including the CHOP NI/ICU, HUP NICU, and developmental follow-up clinic, I learned about executing the clinical research process and how research questions are conceived from observing trends in patient care.
My particular project is focused on identifying the optimal timepoint for diagnosing premature babies with a type of chronic lung disease known as bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). Essentially, preemies’ lungs are not fully developed when they are born, which often leads to prolonged supplemental oxygen use and ventilatory support. While newer methods of delivering oxygen and ventilation have improved the number of extremely premature babies that survive, a high rate of BPD diagnoses and later neurodevelopmental morbidity remains. The current accepted definition does not take into account changes in respiratory care or the possibility that assessing patients at different weekly timepoints could be more helpful. By assessing respiratory details at each of these weeks and follow-up data to assess development, we will create models to identify the most optimal time for assessment.
From this experience, I have learned that data collection is not always straightforward and that executing a multi-center study often requires compromise and willingness to adapt. By attending research talks and case discussions, I was able to see just how vital teamwork is to answering research questions in a fast-paced clinical setting. Being able to see patients in clinic who experience challenges similar to those included in my study was particularly rewarding, as I could see firsthand how premature birth affects lifelong development. I am particularly interested in adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes, so I am excited to continue learning about major risk factors.