Science and Discovery

From the laboratory to the clinics and out into our communities, research at Lurie Children’s is conducted through the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute

(Photo courtesy of Northwestern University)

New home for research

In June, the Manne Research Institute moved into state-of-the-art lab and research space in the new Louis A. Simpson and Kimberly K. Querrey Biomedical Research Center, a shared building with Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. The Manne Research Institute within this top-caliber facility houses hundreds of investigators and research staff organized into 10 research neighborhoods on three floors, with a fourth floor to be built out later to accommodate future growth. This new laboratory space, combined with a new research strategic plan and the consolidation of laboratory-based researchers in close proximity to our clinical researchers and population and community researchers on the downtown campus, will drive innovation, collaboration and the strategic growth of our research enterprise.

Research Statistics


clinical trials


year-over-year increase in external funding




research neighborhoods

Wireless sensors advance care for babies in newborn intensive care

Manne Research Institute investigators and colleagues recently published in the top journal Science studies of soft, flexible wireless sensors that replace the tangle of wire-based sensors that currently monitor babies in neonatal intensive care units. The wireless sensors, developed by an interdisciplinary team from Northwestern University, provided data as precise and accurate as that from traditional monitoring systems. The wireless patches also are gentler on a newborn’s fragile skin and allow for more skin-to-skin contact with the parent. Another key benefit is the opportunity for continuous blood pressure monitoring. Manne Research Institute authors included Amy Paller, MD; Aaron Hamvas, MD; and Debra Weese-Mayer, MD.

Young adults exposed to incarceration as children have higher odds of depression, PTSD

Young adults with a childhood history of both parental incarceration and juvenile justice involvement were nearly three times more likely to have depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) compared to peers without any experience with the criminal justice system, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open by Nia Heard-Garris, MD, MSc, from the Mary Ann & J. Milburn Smith Child Health Research, Outreach and Advocacy Center within the Manne Research Institute. They also were nearly twice as likely to have anxiety compared to young adults without this childhood exposure. Matthew Davis, MD, the interim President and Chief Research Officer for the Manne Research Institute, is also an author.

Study looks at stem cells for answers to how a type of autism develops

The lab of Yongchao Ma, PhD, from the Manne Research Institute, discovered how the genetic defect in fragile X syndrome — the most commonly identified genetic disorder in children diagnosed with autism — delays production of neurons at a critical time in the embryo’s brain development. In a study published in the high-impact journal Cell Reports, Dr. Ma and colleagues describe a previously unknown regulatory mechanism controlling how stem cells differentiate into neurons. Their discoveries shed light on the earliest stages of disease development and offer novel targets for potential treatments.

CDC designates HIV prevention in young transgender women effective

A behavioral intervention developed at the Manne Research Institute to prevent HIV in young transgender women was designated by the HIV/AIDS Prevention Research Synthesis project at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as showing the best evidence of efficacy. In a randomized clinical trial, this intervention resulted in nearly 40% reduction in sex acts without a condom during the 12-month follow-up period compared to standard preventive care. Findings were published in JAMA Pediatrics, led by Rob Garofalo, MD, MPH, Head of the Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Lurie Children’s and head of the Center for Gender, Sexuality and HIV Prevention at the Manne Research Institute. Lisa Kuhns, PhD, also served as an author.

Fatty tissue from abdomen could regenerate heart

The nondescript yet mysterious fatty tissue inside the abdomen that hangs like an apron from the stomach — called the omentum — holds great promise for thousands of children born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) and other severe cardiac defects, who might need a heart transplant. In HLHS, the left side of the heart is underdeveloped, causing the right side to work much harder, which eventually leads to muscle injury and heart failure. Using an animal model, researchers found that surgically attaching the omentum to the overburdened heart reduces signs of injury, allowing the heart to function normally. Their findings were published in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery, with Joseph Forbess, MD, Division Head of Cardiovascular-Thoracic Surgery at Lurie Children’s and researcher at the Manne Research Institute, served as senior author.