Adam Frymoyer: PTN Principal Investigator at the University of California–San Francisco

Combining a passion for pediatric care with an interest in pharmacology, Adam Frymoyer contributes a multi-dimensional perspective to the Pediatric Trials Network. He’s a pediatrician who enjoys providing care for newborns, both those who are well and those who are sick and in need of special treatment to make the transition home. He’s also a recipient of advanced training in clinical pharmacology (the science of drugs and their clinical use). Drawing on the knowledge gained from these distinct experiences, Dr. Frymoyer helps the PTN design pediatric drug studies, as well as analyze and interpret their findings, taking into account the unique physiology of infants and children.

He’s particularly interested in understanding the variation in drug response seen in pediatric populations. Because developing organs and changes in metabolism throughout infancy and childhood affect how drugs are processed, dosing of medicines must be adjusted to protect these vulnerable patients. Using approaches based in pharmacokinetics (what the body does to the drug) and pharmacodynamics (what the drug does to the body), Dr. Frymoyer hopes to develop more personalized therapeutic dosing strategies, with the goal of making medicines more safe and effective for infants and children.

On the home front, he’s kept on his toes by two daughters, who busy him with trips to the beach, acting silly, and reading books. In his spare moments, Dr. Frymoyer enjoys surfing, playing basketball, and golfing. He’s also trying his hand at home-brewing beer; early efforts have resulted in batches that he, at least, finds tasty.

Kelly Wade: PTN Principal Investigator at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Kelly Wade is committed to improving drug safety for children. A neonatologist for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, she works in the newborn intensive care units at both Children’s Hospital and Pennsylvania Hospital. Every day, she prescribes life-saving medicines to her tiny patients, often assigning doses based on estimates derived from adult dosing guidelines because pediatric data do not exist. Consequently, Dr. Wade is extremely interested in improving medication dosing, efficacy, and safety for newborn infants.

Because such improvements cannot be made without clinical trials in that vulnerable population, she also spends a great deal of time educating parents and hospital personnel about the importance of research, as well as the safeguards embedded within clinical research protocols to protect infant study participants.

Dr. Wade’s commitment to pediatric drug safety led her to become involved with the Pediatric Trials Network. She is a member of the PTN Steering Committee, tasked with reviewing protocols, adding insight to studies on neonates, and setting priorities for the network. She also serves on the Safety Committee, overseeing all studies conducted by the PTN to ensure that the health and well-being of study participants are protected.

A native of California who moved east for medical school, Dr. Wade is a proud convert to east coast living. After her residency, she and her family moved to Philadelphia to take advantage of its large children’s hospital, vibrant theater scene, great restaurants, river trail, and the ability to live in neighborhoods within walking distance of the city’s hospitals. Her husband, an actor, runs the theater program at a local university, and her two sons, ages 8 and 10, are avid chess players who can frequently be found at The Franklin Science Institute.

Matthew Laughon: PTN Principal Investigator at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill

Matthew Laughon is on a mission to improve children’s health. An associate professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, NC, he not only cares for patients in the North Carolina Children’s Hospital Newborn Critical Care Center, but he also serves as a member of the PTN Steering Committee and as principal investigator of the network’s Pharmacokinetics of Antistaphylococcal Antibiotics in Infants trial and Pharmacokinetics of Sildenafil in Premature Infants trial. These studies will provide important information about drugs that are used in hundreds of infants every day.

Outside of the Pediatric Trials Network, Dr. Laughon also devotes time to clinical trials sponsored by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver NICHD Neonatal Research Network, including studies of hydrocortisone, therapeutic hypothermia, and the management of the patent ductus arteriosus. Furthermore, he has played key roles in earlier NIH-sponsored studies of drugs commonly used in pediatric medicine—meropenem (member, Safety Committee) and fluconazole (chair, Data and Safety Monitoring Board).

Thankfully, with so many balls in the air at any given moment, he has a lot of help. In particular, Dr. Laughon is thankful for the staff of the Pediatric Trials Network: Katherine Berezny and Maurine Morris at the Duke Clinical Research Institute, who have been essential to getting the antistaphylococcal and sildenafil trials off the ground; Dave Seigel at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, who coordinates activities at the National Institutes of Health; and Ravinder Patel at Emmes, who keeps tabs on data coordinating efforts.

There’s no shortage of help on the home front either. The Laughon household includes wife Sarah, who is a psychiatrist, children Madeleine (age 13) and Christopher (age 11), a cat named Jake, and a dog named Persephone. And in those scant minutes of the day when he’s not working on research or spending time with his family, Dr. Laughon strives to keep fit at his local CrossFit gym.

Ian Paul: PTN Principal Investigator at the Penn State Children’s Hospital

Ian Paul brings a unique perspective to the PTN. A professor of pediatrics and public health sciences at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine and director of research in the Division of General Pediatrics at Penn State Children’s Hospital, he is the only PTN Steering Committee member who works in primary care as a general pediatrician. His focus on everyday practice enables him to contribute knowledge about medications used commonly by family pediatricians as opposed to those needed mainly in specialty care situations. This “real-world” perspective is essential for keeping PTN studies as practical and useful as possible, both for the doctors involved in the research and for the patients who benefit from the results.

Dr. Paul’s research interests vary broadly, from the prevention of childhood obesity through home-based interventions delivered to new parents to the usefulness of postpartum home visitation provided by community-based health agencies versus office-based care for newborns and their mothers. Additionally, he is a co-investigator on numerous other projects also funded by the National Institutes of Health relating to co-parenting, infant sleep, prevention of shaken baby syndrome, prevention of poor pregnancy outcomes, and the treatment of asthma.

His connections to the larger PTN community are long-lived. During the three years he spent at Duke University as house staff in pediatrics in the late nineties, Dr. Paul worked extensively with Dr. Danny Benjamin, principal investigator for the network. Likewise, he enjoys a great professional relationship with Dr. Greg Kearns of Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, MO (also a PTN principal investigator), who has aided his career development over the years.

Outside of work, Dr. Paul keeps busy with his family, which includes two young children (Ava, age 4, and Jack, age 20 months). He enjoys working in his vegetable garden and exercising, as well as rooting for Duke basketball and the Philadelphia professional sports teams.

Michael O’Shea: PTN Principal Investigator at Wake Forest University

Michael O’Shea—vice chair and professor of pediatrics at Wake Forest University Health Sciences in Winston-Salem, NC—provides leadership for PTN studies of clinical devices, such as new monitoring equipment for infants in the neonatal intensive care unit. A graduate of the Schools of Medicine and Public Health at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, he has lived in North Carolina for all of his life and considers himself a bona fide “tar heel.”

Dr. O’Shea wears many hats in the course of an average day. As a neonatologist, he cares for newborns and infants with medical conditions. As a clinical researcher, he studies the effects of drugs and other treatments on critically ill newborns. He is particularly interested in the long-term effects that these treatments may have on development. In one of his current studies, he is evaluating neurocognitive and neurobehavioral outcomes of 10-year-old children born more than 12 weeks early; in another, he is evaluating young adults who weighed less than 3.5 pounds at birth. By identifying the impact that life-saving treatments may have on critically ill newborns, he hopes to improve clinical care for these vulnerable patients, both in the short and long term.

Dr. O’Shea is also very interested in mentoring young researchers and has been increasing the amount of time he devotes to this activity in recent years. He has mentored 10 pediatric faculty, 27 neonatology fellows, and 3 doctoral students, and is the recipient of the 2012 Wake Forest School of Medicine Faculty Mentoring Award.

Outside of work, Dr. O’Shea and his family like to get outside, enjoying activities such as hiking, biking, running, and tennis. Guitar playing and distance running are also among his favorite pastimes. He has run numerous marathons, including the Boston Marathon, which he has competed in three times.