Melissa Halpern, PhD
PANDA Healthy Babies Project
With generous support from the PANDAs (People Acting Now Discover Answers), this project focuses on Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)--a painful inflammatory gastrointestinal disorder that afflicts approximately 9,000 premature infants annually. It is the most common GI ailment of premature babies. Approximately 20 percent to 50 percent do not survive this devestating disease.
The PANDA Healthy Babies Project will support the work of Steele Center researchers Bohuslav Dvorak, PhD, professor; Melissa Halpern, PhD, associate professor; and Alan Bedrick, MD, professor and section chief of neonatology.
Dr. Dvorak studies ways to prevent the development of NEC, while Dr. Halpern’s research focuses on developing the first predictive test for NEC. In addition, Dr. Bedrick has designed clinical studies to determine if common procedures and medications in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) contribute to the development of NEC.
Moreover, Drs. Bedrick and Halpern are building collaborative research partnerships with NICUs throughout Arizona, including Phoenix. Expanding their research projects to these sites will increase the amount of viable data, ensuring the success of the researchers’ efforts.