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Named a Center of Excellence in Molecular Hematology by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Wells Center is one of only three such centers in the United States. Research at the Wells Center is at the forefront of molecular biology and genetics. Through the development of innovative approaches to diagnosis, the center continues to be a strong pillar for IU School of Medicine, providing outstanding training and increasing knowledge of the causes and mechanisms of serious pediatric diseases.

Wells Center researchers receive more than $29 million annually in federal research funds, along with grants from the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the March of Dimes and many other private foundations.

Ten programs constitute the working groups within the center: asthma and allergic diseases, diabetes, cardiovascular genetics, developmental cardiology, hematologic malignancies and stem cell biology, infectious diseases and global health, and molecular oncology and experimental therapeutics, gene and cell therapy, kidney and urology and pediatric translational research.

Areas of Focus

  • Pulmonary Inflammation Asthma and Allergic Diseases
    Wells Center researchers in the Pulmonary Inflammation, Asthma and Allergic Diseases group are working to understand the initiation, pathogenesis and progression of allergic diseases in the hopes of identifying better ways to treat or prevent allergic symptoms.
  • Diabetes
    The Diabetes research team is committed to understanding the biology and molecular mechanisms that lead to the development of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes in children.
  • Cardiac Developmental Biology
    The Cardiac Development Biology group studies the origins, etiology and treatment of heart failure in the young.
  • Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Biology
    Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Biology research group focuses on comparing molecular and cellular regulation of stem and progenitor cell populations in hematopoietic, endothelial and mesenchymal lineages.
  • Infectious Diseases and Global Health
    The Infectious Diseases and Global Health research group focuses on malaria, a leading causes of death and disability in children worldwide.
  • Molecular Oncology and Experimental Therapeutics
    The Molecular Oncology and Experimental Therapeutics research group focuses on translating the basic science related to genes and protein mechanisms into new therapeutic modalities as well as developing better models for tumor studies and a greater understanding of tumor biology.
  • Gene and Cell Therapy
    Investigators in the Gene and Cell Therapy program are working to develop gene therapies to correct genetic disease and combat the issue of immune rejection.
  • Cardiovascular Genetics
    The Cardiovascular Genetics research group is investigating the developmental mechanisms and pathobiology of heritable cardiac disease.
  • Kidney and Urology
    Established in 2020, the Kidney and Urology Translational Research group pursues basic and translational studies to gain insight into pediatric diseases that involve the kidney and urinary tract.
  • Pediatric Translational Research
    A major goal of the Pediatric Translational Research program is to help pediatric investigators across all disciplines at the Wells Center collaborate with engineers and other scientists, translating new insights and discoveries into products that will improve the health of children.

Featured Research

Delaying diabetes

Diabetes investigators in the Wells Center contributed clinical research that led to the first FDA-approved drug to delay the onset of type 1 diabetes in at-risk individuals by almost three years.

Global perspective

Malaria continues to be a major threat to public health for much of the world’s population. A severe form called cerebral malaria is linked to increased risk for long-term impairment. A 2019 study from the Global Health team presents novel findings about one possible contributing factor to this impairment: a protein called tau.

Life-saving lettuce

Researchers in the Gene and Cell Therapy program collaborate with the biochemists at the University of Pennsylvania to create a genetically engineered lettuce plant that may help children with hemophilia whose bodies reject treatment. The plant effectively induced oral tolerance to treatment in animal models, the NIH-funded study found.

Support Services: Core Labs

The Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research facilities include service core laboratories that provide research support services to investigators. Aside from the cores that are housed and administered by the Wells Center, investigators within the Wells Center direct a number of other IU School of Medicine cores, including a Mouse Knockout and Transgenic Core and FACS sort facilities. These facilities are supported by core grants to IU School of Medicine, making it more cost-effective for investigators.

Additional cores available to IU School of Medicine pediatric scientists include a state-of-the-art Proteomics Core, Confocal and Deconvolution Microscope Cores, and high-throughput sequencing capability within the IU School of Medicine and within the Analytical Chemistry department at Indiana University.

  • Tissue Culture Core
    The Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research facilities include a Tissue Culture Core that makes custom media for investigators.
  • Experimental Therapeutics Histology Core
    The Experimental Therapeutics Histology Core is located in the Wells Center for Pediatric Research.
  • Fluorescence Cytometry Core
    The center houses a Fluorescence Cytometry Core.

Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation

The Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation is a generous partner in advancing cancer research at the Wells Center and Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, providing vital resources to researchers seeking to impact treatments, therapies and cures.