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University Children’s Hospital Basel
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In developmental pediatrics / pneumology our research focuses on various areas of neonatology, anesthetics, neuropediatrics and pneumology. Our researchers study the development of organ systems in normal children, premature babies, and in children with chronic diseases or developmental delay. Research in hematology / oncology at the UKBB includes childhood leukemia, immune thrombocytopenia and the outcome / late effects of cancer disease and treatment. Experimental research teams in Immunology, and clinical researchers in pediatric infectious diseases and vaccinology, study the development of the thymus gland and lymphoid system, and the outcome and safety of vaccines.
Research in pediatric orthopedics focuses on new methods to depict, measure and treat spinal deformities, and to reconstitute bone segments after tumor resection. The division of pediatric neuroorthopedics performs biomechanic analysis and modelling of gait and motor function.
All research groups in the department of pediatrics and pulmonology and neonatology are closely linked. The research consists of studies on
developmental lung and brain physiology in newborns (see also the groups of
Prof. Sven Schulzke and Dr. Sven Wellmann) and older children with a particular focus on
patients who develop wheezing disorders and asthma. They are particularly interested in
developing new lung function tests to measure lung function in infants, as well
as establishing early inflammatory biomarkers (see also the groups of Prof. Urs Frey, Prof. Juerg Hammer, PD Dr. Daniel Trachsel). They
study the influence of environmental factors, including air pollution, on lung
development and the evolution of asthma (see also the groups of Prof. Philipp
Latzin, Loretta Müller, PhD). Furthermore, they are involved in several
international cohort studies on asthma epidemiology (BILD, SAPALDIA, U-BIOBRED,
Since asthma is a complex disease, we model chronic asthma and serial lung function as a complex disease using new mathematical techniques derived from statistical physics (see also group Prof. Urs Frey).
Another research focus in developmental pediatrics is in the area of neuropediatrics. We study the effect of early morphological or functional lesions of the brain on cognitive development (Prof. Peter Weber, Dr. Alexander Datta) and also the pathophysiology and therapy of muscular dystrophy in children (Prof. Dirk Fischer).
Research groups Developmental Pediatrics / Pneumology
Research in pediatric hematology and oncology focuses on the epidemiology and long-term outcome in pediatric cancer (Prof. Nicolas von der Weid), as well as on epidemiology, clinical and biological aspects of immune thrombocytopenia in children (Prof. Thomas Kühne) and the understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in childhood (Prof. Jürg Schwaller).
The research team of Nicolas von der Weid investigates the potential benefits of supervised training in physical activity on multiple parameters of cardio-vascular and bone health in survivors of paediatric malignancies. The research team of Thomas Kühne has the origin, clinical course and management of pediatric immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) as a major focus. His team is also responsible for international registries for children and adults with ITP.
Nicolas von der Weid, Thomas Kühne and their staff are strongly involved in clinical cancer research as members of the Swiss Pediatric Oncology Group; their main interests are the study of the whole spectrum of paediatric solid tumors and leukemias.
The research group of Jürg Schwaller focuses on the molecular biology of childhood AML aiming to identify novel protein kinases involved in the maintenance of leukemic transformation, to address the role of fusion genes associated with poor prognosis AML and to explore the anti-leukemic potential of a series of novel small molecules that interfere with epigenetic regulatory circuits.
Research groups Hematology / Oncology
Research in pediatric infectious diseases and vaccinology focuses on the epidemiology and prevention of pertussis (Prof. Ulrich Heininger), the diagnosis and prevention of tuberculosis (PD Dr. Nicole Ritz) and the benefit-risk assessment of vaccines (PD Dr. Jan Bonhoeffer). The laboratory Pediatric Immunology of Prof. Georg Hollaender investigates the molecular and cellular regulation of thymus development and function. He also holds the professorship Developmental Immunology at the University of Oxford. The major research focus in the laboratory molecular medicine in pediatrics (Prof. Daniela Finke) is the development and immune function of innate lymphoid cells in health and disease.
Research groups Immunology / Infectiology
In orthopedics, the human biomechanics
system dominates diagnostics, indications, therapeutic strategies and
rehabilitation. However, apart from instrumented gait analysis, there is a
paucity of functional data and thinking. Radiographic assessment –
the fundamental decision-making and planning tool – is purely static and is by
no means an accurate reflection of the complex three-dimensional moving nature
of the human locomotor system. It is also incapable of providing information on
articular and ligamentous forces, or muscular response, not to mention the
influence of fatigue and environmental conditions on them.
clinical pediatric and orthopedic units, the department of neuroorthopedics, and spine and
tumor surgery move
on a common translational research ground to retrieve biomechanics data, and to
model the biomechanical reality of children and adolescents with orthopedic
diseases. The translation of new insights into novel conservative and surgical
therapeutic strategies, planning tools, and implants to provide better function
and improve the lives of our patients, remains the primary goal.
Our research groups are financially supported by the
University of Basel, the Department of Surgery of the University of Basel,
competitive third party grants (SNF Swiss National Foundation, CTI the Swiss Commission for Technology and Innovation) and several foundations
(Arthrosestiftung, Loddenkemper-Stiftung, Stiftung Basler Orthopädie, Stiftung Cerebral, Stiftung Promotio, Robert-Mathys-Foundation, Gebert-Rüf-Stiftung,
The depiction and simulation of the biomechanical
reality – with inclusion of forces, anatomic shape and properties (e.g.
ligamentous stiffness) – in finite element models, and with forward modeling,
allows for the computation and simulation of approaches and the comparison with
traditional methods. However, these models are time-consuming, not validated
and therefore hardly applicable to the individual case. Consequently, we are
refining several established and novel options to gain in vivo,
patient-specific data which can be used directly for the purpose of
clinical-decision making or to feed the computer models.
In our gait labs at the UKBB, and in Aarau, we measure
joint motion, ground reaction forces and dynamic EMG (kinetics and kinematics)
with computation of individual muscle forces and function of the legs. A
current project in collaboration with the Fachhochschule Bern and the ETH Zurich (Dr. St. Schmid, Dr. S. Lorenzetti) develops a method to
also include the spine. Research-wise there is a strong collaboration with
the Catholic University of Leuven (Prof. I. Jonkers) and the Politecnico Milano
(Prof. C. Frigo). In another study, physiologic muscle parameters are assessed
in vivo in order to enhance the speed and precision of biomechanical
computations in cooperation with the Free University of Amsterdam (H.
Haberfelder, Prof. R. Jaspers und Prof. J. Becher).
There is an almost complete lack of valid in vivo data
on the biomechanic properties (stiffness) of spinal segments, although they are
fundamental for the development of new operative strategies to prevent bone
fusion and loss of function in the treatment of severe spinal deformities.
Together with the Institute for surgical technology and biomechanics of the
University of Bern ISTB (P. Büchler, PhD) we therefore developed a motorized and programmable measuring device on a hexapod
basis - similar to a flight simulator or a Taylor Spatial Frame - which allows for
the intraoperative, direct assessment of the relationship between defined
forces and the subsequent 3D response of the spinal segment. At a later stage,
this invasive study will be linked to the non-invasive spine gait lab
The tumor group already accomplished a finite element and statistical shape model of the pelvis as a basis for patient-specific implant after tumor resections. The basic biomechanics data (load-deformation behavior of the pelvis) were gained by video-analysis of optic markers on the pelvic surface with support of the in-house gait analysis experts. They are used to manufacture patient specific implants in cooperation with an industry partner.
Research groups Pediatric Orthopedics
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