The Department of Pediatrics is home to internationally renowned researchers and receives numerous grants from the National Institutes of Health and other federal and industry sources. A few of these research centers and laboratories are described briefly below.
Dr. Dan Cooper, director of UC Irvine's Institute for Clinical & Translational Science, is the principal investigator of numerous grants from the National Institutes of Health, including the recent award to establish a Center for Translational Science Activities (CTSA) at UC Irvine.
Cooper's research with the Pediatric Exercise and Genomic Research Center has addressed the interaction of physical activity and muscle mass in the context of health, disease, and harmful conditions (like obesity) in growing children and adolescents. More recently, his team has begun to tackle the challenging question of how levels of physical activity in premature babies could benefit the development of lean mass and bone mineralization in this at-risk population.
From a research perspective, his group has been involved in a wide range of translational studies from in vitro examination of leukocytes in response to cytokines to large clinical trials such as Project HEALTHY, the largest school-based study ever supported by the NIH to prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes in children.
At the UC Irvine Epilepsy Research Center, Dr. Tallie Z. Baram's research focus is neuroplasticity in the developing brain that is evoked by early-life experience (including stress) and by seizures.
Trainees and scientists in the Baram lab are working to understand several clinically important problems: How does the developing brain becomes epileptic? What are the mechanisms and consequences of fever-induced (febrile) seizures in children? What are biomarkers for epileptogenesis after febrile seizures? How does early life experience program the brain, especially the hippocampal neurons involved in learning and memory? How do cognitive deficits and dendritic and spine loss arise following chronic early-life stress?
Scientific methods include using molecular genetic and epigenetic, in vivo and in vitro systems, live two-photon imaging of genetically engineered mice, in vivo electrophysiologic and magnetic resonance imaging tools.