Helping Kids Breathe Easier
Helping kids breathe easier is the life’s work of the pulmonary team at Riley Hospital for Children. But these medical professionals aren’t just helping kids overcome lung and breathing issues – they are also heavily involved with conducting pediatric research so they can improve treatment options for children.
Today, we introduce you to the Section Director of Pediatric Pulmonology, Allergy and Sleep Medicine at Riley Hospital for Children, Stephanie Davis, M.D.
Q: Tell us about your background, how you became interested in your field of medicine, and what drew you to Riley Hospital for Children?
A: Since the age of 6, I wanted to be a pediatrician. As a pediatric resident at Riley, I became passionate about caring for children with chronic respiratory illnesses during my pulmonology rotation. Once I completed a pediatric pulmonology fellowship at Riley, I joined the faculty at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. However, in 2011, I was honored to return to Riley as Section Director. I was drawn back to Riley due to the institution’s strong commitment to child health. Riley is truly a special place with interdisciplinary clinical centers of excellence as well as national leaders in education and research.
Q: How many pulmonary patients does Riley serve in a typical year? What specific types of medical issues does your team handle?
A: The pulmonary section cares for around 13,000 patients per year at Riley. Our team deals with many types of medical issues including cystic fibrosis, rare lung diseases such as primary ciliary dyskinesia, pulmonary hypertension, chronic lung diseases of prematurity and asthma. Our team also cares for children with sleep disorders, children who are technology dependent and require chronic ventilation and children with aerodigestive problems that significantly impact their upper airway. Furthermore, allergy is part of the pulmonary section and our allergists care for children with food and environmental allergies.
Q: What is the most rewarding part, and most challenging part about your work?
A: The most rewarding part of my work is the opportunity we have to make a difference in child lung health through our clinical centers of excellence as well as our through our strong research program. I also enjoy building these programs and mentoring the future leaders of our section and subspecialty. The most challenging part is balancing the tripod missions of education, research and clinical care within the Section!
Q: What are some of the unique features of Riley Hospital’s pulmonary services compared with other children’s hospitals?
A: Unique features of Riley Hospital’s pulmonary service include our Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia of excellence. This center of excellence evaluates children from all over Indiana as well as from several surrounding states. Other unique features include our clinic for technology dependent children and our sleep program, both which are one of the largest in the country. We also have a high risk asthma program that cares for children with asthma who have more severe disease. We are also working with cardiology to build a pulmonary hypertension center of excellence and this program is growing rapidly. Furthermore, we have a sleep boarded psychologist who has been helpful in caring for children with sleep issues who need more intense therapy to deal with their unique sleep problems.
Q: What kinds of clinical trials are underway in your section? How is research making a difference for kids?
A: We have more than 50 protocols being conducted through our Section. These research protocols are supported through the NIH, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Sleep Foundation, CTSI and the Riley Children’s Foundation. These protocols focus on cystic fibrosis, asthma, sleep and rare lung disease such as primary ciliary dyskinesia. This research helps us to better understand lung disease as well as create novel treatments for these children.
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