Close up photo of a baby in incubator with adult gently reaching in and holding one foot

Case Western Reserve University and UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital awarded NIH funding for neonatal care research

Case Western Reserve University and UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital (UH Rainbow) were selected by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to receive renewed funding to study newborn health through the Neonatal Research Network (NRN).

The NRN is a collaborative network of neonatal intensive-care units across the United States, composed of 15 elite clinical research centers and a data-coordinating center. Credited with laying the foundation for evidence-based care, the NRN has advanced outcomes in neonatal care for nearly four decades. CWRU/UH Rainbow has been a participating center and continually funded since its inception in 1986.

“We are proud to be part of a renowned consortium at the forefront of pediatric clinical research,” said Anna Maria Hibbs, professor of pediatrics at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and vice chair of research at UH Rainbow. “Our multitalented team of scientists, researchers and caregivers are uniquely positioned to conduct high quality trials and develop novel medical interventions and practices for the neonatal patient population.”

The CWRU/UH Rainbow team includes Hibbs, principal investigator and the Eliza Henry Barnes Chair in Neonatology; Deanne Wilson-Costello, director of the High Risk Neonatal Follow-up Program at UH Rainbow and professor of pediatrics at the School of Medicine; Samudragupta Bora, director of Early Childhood Neurodevelopmental Outcomes at UH Rainbow; and Elizabeth Roth, research psychologist in the Department of Pediatrics at the School of Medicine. 

The UH Rainbow/CWRU site is one of four founding members of the NRN and has been engaged in decades of pioneering collaborative research and clinical trials, shaping and impacting neonatal practices across the world.

One example of the site’s rich history of advancements: In 1987, under the leadership of Drs. Eileen Stork and Michele Walsh, UH Rainbow’s NICU was among the first U.S. regional centers to offer extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. Then, in the 1990s, UH Rainbow was among the first centers to enhance patient care by using inhaled nitric for pulmonary hypertension.

UH Rainbow is currently ranked 10th in the nation for neonatology by U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals annual rankings. UH Rainbow has long been regarded as an international leader in the treatment of critically ill and extremely low birth-weight babies since pioneering neonatology in the 1960s, culminating in opening one of the nation’s first family-centered NICUs with space for parents to stay with their baby, UH Rainbow’s Quentin & Elisabeth Alexander Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

“The Neonatal Research Network is so critical to the continuing advancement of newborn care. At the core of its founding is the greater depth and breadth of learning that comes from sharing our experiences and knowledge,” said Cynthia F. Bearer, the William & Lois Briggs Professor of Pediatrics at the School of Medicine and chief of the Division of Neonatology at UH Rainbow.

To date, the NRN has published more than 470 peer-reviewed papers, including advances on hypothermia as a treatment for birth asphyxia, phototherapy to reduce brain injury from jaundice in preterm infants, and a regimen showing that vitamin A supplementation may help reduce the risk of chronic lung disease and sepsis among extremely low birth weight preterm infants.

A complete listing of NRN studies and papers is available on the NRN website.

This article was originally published June 7, 2023.