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February 2023 news and updates from the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research.

Wells Center Newsletter | February 2023

Top News

Image of the Wells Center from outside

Record-breaking NIH funding

The IU School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics and Wells Center was ranked 7th in the country in NIH funding last year according to the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research. The department secured the highest amount of NIH funding ever in 2022, receiving more than $38,000,000 and resulting in an 8.3% funding increase.

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Johnny Krasinkiewicz, fellow, personally delivers a box of donuts to a nursing unit at Riley Hospital on behalf of the entire Herman B Wells Center.

Spreading Holiday Cheer

Several Wells Center members personally donated funds and delivered festive boxes of donuts and handwritten “thank you” notes to the nurses and staff facing demanding conditions at Riley Hospital. More than 500 donuts were distributed before the holidays.

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Emily Sims in her lab

Contributing to the first FDA-approved drug to delay onset of T1D

The Wells Center's assistant director, Emily Sims, MD, was a key investigator in clinical studies that led to the FDA's approval of teplizumab to delay the onset of type 1 diabetes in at-risk individuals. 

Revisit the news

Poster from Wells Center 30th anniversary celebration

30th-anniversary celebration

On August 25, 2022, the Wells Center celebrated a belated 30th anniversary with a retreat and special gathering at the NCAA Hall of Champions. 

Look back on the celebration


Team Wells Updates

Collage of photos from the Wells Center in 2022

As pandemic precautions eased in 2022, Teams Wells was pleased to welcome the return of in-person events and had several reasons to celebrate including:

  • A record number of new investigators and internal promotions. 
  • Welcoming more than 30 new members to the Wells Center. 
  • The Wells Center's impressive growth expanding into R3. 
  • The Center's 30th-anniversary celebration and retreat. 
  • The return of the Summer Internship Program on campus. 
  • The third annual pumpkin contest and Halloween gathering. 
  • A beautiful holiday event at the Indiana Historical Society.
  • Donating hundreds of items to IUPUI's food pantry.  
  • The second annual Wells Center Jeopardy event. 

Discovery in Action

Congratulations to Grant and Award Recipients
Wells Center members have received a vast number of grants and awards in recent months. A select few are highlighted below.

  • Simon Conway, PhD & Jeff Brault, PhD | "Tafazzin-mediated changes in ATP/energetics in neonatal and adult skeletal muscles" (Wells Center Seed Award)
  • Emily Sims, MD & Amelia Linnemann, PhD | "Autophagy and Proinsulin Release in Diabetes Development" (Wells Center Seed Award)
  • Andrea Conroy, PhD & Nathan Schmidt, PhD | "Effect of malaria and malnutrition on intestinal damage, endothelial activation, and kidney injury" (Wells Center Seed Award)
  • Mark Kelley, PhD & Troy Markel, MD | "The Use of a Novel APE1/Ref-1 Inhibitor to Treat Necrotizing Enterocolitis" (Wells Center Seed Award)
  • Andrew Schwaderer, MD | "Harnessing the acid-base cellular machinery of intercalated cells in the bacterial defense of the kidney" (Bridge Award)
  • David Markusic, PhD, MSC | "Mechanisms of AAV antigen-specific immune tolerance in the liver" (Bridge Award)
  • Nathan Schmidt, PhD | "Role of the gut microbiota in shaping severity of malaria" (Bridge Award)
  • Michael Davis, PhD | "A novel nasal treatment for COVID-10" (Emerging Therapies Award)
  • Emily Sims, MD | "TArgeting Type 1 Diabetes Using POLyamines or TADPOL" (Emerging Therapies Award)
  • Alka Khaitan, MD | "Pancreatic, Neurologic and Cardiac Biomarkers and Immune Correlates in Children with Perinatal HIV" (Translational Award)
  • Joan Cook-Mills, PhD | "Regulation of the Development of Neonate Allergy by Maternal and Microbiome Metabolism of Sphingolipids" (Bridge Award)
  • Jamie Felton, MD | "Type I Interferons and B Cell Metabolism as Drivers of Type 1 Diabetes" (NIH K12 Career Development Award)
  • Melissa Fishel, PhD | "Reprogramming to PDAC by Targeting Coagulation in the Tumor Microenvironment" (U01: NIH-NIC)
  • Reuben Kapur, PhD | "Inflammatory contributions of clonal hematopoiesis to cardiovascular disease" (F30: NIH-NHLCI)
  • Carmella Evans-Molina, PhD, MS, MD & Staci Weaver | "Role of endoplasmic reticulum calcium in beta cell mitochondrial dysfunction, senescence, and onset of type 1 diabetes" (F31: NIH-NIDDK)
  • Amelia Linnemann, PhD & Alissa Novak | "Mechanisms and Targeted Control of Pancreatic β-Cell Antioxidant Response" (F31: NIH-NIDDK)
  • Reuben Kapur, PhD & Karen Pollock, PhD | "Hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell regulation for enhanced clinical efficacy" (U54: NIH-NIDDK)
  • Anthony Firulli, PhD | "Morphogenesis and growth of the ventricular wall in development and disease" (P01: NIH-NHLBI)
  • Sarah Burns | "Inflammatory contributions of clonal hematopoiesis to cardiovascular disease" (F30: NIH)
  • Ngoc Tung Tran, PhD | "Homology-Independent Targeted Integration mediated gene therapy for Fanconi Anemia group C" (Showalter Trust Award)
  • Elizabeth Sierra Potchanant, PhD | "Targeting PLK1 as a novel synthetic lethality strategy for acute myeloid leukemias with Fanconi anemia pathway mutations" (Showalter Trust Award)

Recent Publications

Kudos and Recognition

  • Members from the Gene and Cell Therapy Research group received a $12 million grant from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute to fund studies that explore safer hemophilia treatments and have shared their efforts via a new webpage.
  • Carmella Evans-Molina MD, PhD, MS, was recently featured in IUSM's Women in Leadership blog series.
  • Karen Pollok, PhD, and her team have been awarded two new grants to support osteosarcoma research, building on research established from Tyler Trent's tumor cells.
  • Stephanie Ware, MD, PhD, was publicly announced as interim chair for the IU School of Medicine Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics.
  • Mark Kelley, PhD, was granted a new patent in Europe, "Benzoquinone Derivative E3330 in Combination with Chemotherapeutic Agents for the Treatment of Cancer and Angiogenesis"
  • Sarah Burns, from the Kapur Lab, is the second recipient of the Walter A. and Laura W. Deutsch Research Scholarship of the Riley Children's Foundation and Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center.
  • Renzhi Han, PhD, joined the Gene and Cell Therapy group as its newest investigator in January.
  • Mark Kelley, PhD, developed an oral drug to prevent diabetic retinopathy, called APX3330, and it recently completed a phase 2b trial with the FDA.
  • Ben Landis, MD, and his colleagues have received the Department of Defense Discovery Award to study the coarctation of the aorta.
  • Danielle Soranno, MD, was recently featured in a Riley Children's Foundation blog about her passion for nephrology and decision to join Riley and IU School of Medicine.

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The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
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Jackie Maupin

Jackie supports the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research at IU School of Medicine. As communications generalist, Jackie helps spread the word about the Wells Center's commitment to improving the health of children in Indiana and beyond through basic and translational research. She has several years of experience in non-profit and academic marketing and communications.