Giving Hope

Training the next generation of pediatric leaders

It’s often said that children are the future.

Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt invests a tremendous amount of time and resources into training the next generation of specialists who will care for those children.

Most pediatric subspecialists must complete at least a three-year fellowship program in their specialty. Fellowships are designed to encourage scholarly pursuits, provide clinical and research experience and to hone critical thinking skills. The Department of Pediatrics and Children’s Hospital currently support fellowships in 12 areas with 55 to 60 fellows per year across all years of training.

David T. Karzon, M.D., chaired Vanderbilt’s Department of Pediatrics from 1968 to 1986. His wife, Allaire Urban Karzon, created an endowment in his name to support fellowships for physicians of the future.

“The fellowship training experience greatly influences the career trajectory of talented pediatricians. As funding for training becomes more restricted, we want to have more endowed fellowships to better support the next generation of leaders in specialty care and discovery,” said Meg Rush, M.D., chief of staff at Children’s Hospital. “Endowed fellowships are unique because those who give the gift are able to form a relationship with the trainee, and the importance of philanthropy is instilled in the fellow who is supported.”

While most fellowships are supported by institutional and federal funds, several generous donors have endowed a pediatric fellowship, and each for a special reason.

John and Leslie Hooper had a personal experience and owe their daughter’s life to the physicians at Children’s Hospital after she had a pulmonary scare. “From that point forward, we were enamored and amazed with the power and prowess that the staff at Children’s Hospital brought to the healing of all children… not just ours. We wanted to make sure we could contribute to the miraculous work that Children’s Hospital is doing,” John Hooper said.

The Hoopers decided to endow the John and Leslie Hooper Neonatal-Perinatal Endowment Fund. “We wanted our gift to last for generations and to ensure that the brightest minds will work to attack the issues of those who are born ahead of schedule. Every embryo and newborn deserves great minds and great hearts around them,” said John Hooper.

Allaire Urban Karzon, the wife of the late David Karzon, M.D., who served as chair of the Department of Pediatrics from 1968 to 1986 and established the first formal Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in 1970, also endowed a pediatric fellowship. Mrs. Karzon created the David T. Karzon Pediatric Fellowship in Infectious Diseases not only to honor her late husband but also to provide Children’s Hospital with leaders in infectious diseases for years to come.

The Karzons grew up in the days of polio and diphtheria and saw the devastating effects infectious diseases had on
children. “Infectious diseases are ever-evolving. Yes, some infectious diseases can be cured or treated, but many can be prevented with vaccines. Research in pediatric infectious diseases is very important,” said Mrs. Karzon. “You can give gifts for bricks and mortar or you can give gifts for people. I wanted to invest in the next generation of pediatric leaders; an investment in a pediatric fellow is an investment in a child.”

– by Hayley Martin

Hope on Wheels

Patrick Grohar, M.D., Ph.D., celebrates with patient Branden Schwartz at a Hyundai Hope on Wheels event. Photo by Anne Rayner.

Hyundai Hope on Wheels awarded a $250,000 grant to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt to support research into potential drug therapies for Ewing sarcoma, a cancer of the bone.

Patient Branden Schwartz and Patrick Grohar, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of Pediatrics, Hematology and Oncology and the 2012 Hyundai Scholar, celebrated at a Hope on Wheels event in September 2012. The Hope grant was presented at a ceremony at Children’s Hospital where Nashville-area children battling cancer put their painted handprints on a canvas to represent each child’s personal triumph. Grohar is working on the development of new drug therapies to target the genetic lesion associated with Ewing sarcoma.

“It’s going to take efforts like this to truly make an impact on childhood cancers,” Grohar said. “We will be looking at a series of potential drugs; trying to develop them to target this genetic lesion to maximize the effect and minimize the toxicity to the other cells of the body.”

Fighting Duchenne by supporting research

Terry and Sonya Marlin, founders of the Fighting Duchenne Foundation, relax with their sons Jonah, left, and Emory.

A week before Christmas 2008, Terry and Sonya Marlin received the type of news no parent ever wants to hear. Both of their sons, Jonah and Emory, were diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy at the young ages of 5 and 2. Duchenne is a rapidly worsening form of muscular dystrophy that affects approximately one in 3,600 boys. It leaves children paralyzed by their late teens, with a life-expectancy in their mid-20s.

The Marlins describe that Christmas as the most meaningful of their lives. Before the diagnosis they were “stressing about whether the boys would enjoy their presents, and then life was put into perspective in just a matter of hours,” said Terry Marlin.

At one point during their countless doctors’ appointments at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, the Marlins realized there was no ongoing research on Duchenne.  So they decided to start the Fighting Duchenne Foundation, www.fightdmd.com, to raise the funds needed to conduct research on the disease.

The Foundation has committed to making charitable contributions to Children’s Hospital by establishing research funds in hopes of finding a cure for Duchenne. The Foundation’s contributions will allow researchers at Vanderbilt to start working on Duchenne-specific cardiac research this year.

Jonah, now  9, uses a wheelchair to get around. Emory, 6, has asked some tough questions about his future.
“We have had some extremely hard conversations with our kids trying to explain what this disease will do to their bodies,” said Terry Marlin.

For their family and others with Duchenne, the Marlins place their energy into the Foundation and their hope in the research efforts it supports.

– by Kate Watts

Go to www.fightdmd.com to learn more about this disease.

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