Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research



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 $15 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. Eight 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, and–added in 2018–gene and cell therapy.

Areas of Focus

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.

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.

The Cardiac Development Biology group studies the origins, etiology and treatment of heart failure in the young.

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.

The Infectious Diseases and Global Health research group focuses on malaria, a leading causes of death and disability in children worldwide.

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.

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.

The Cardiovascular Genetics research group is investigating the developmental mechanisms and pathobiology of heritable cardiac disease.

Featured Research

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.

Discovering disease

Wells Center researchers contributed to a large collaborative study that was the first to describe a new monogenic disease. The disease, called DHPS Deficiency, is a genetic syndrome that results in a neurological disorder, which impacts brain development and function in patients.

Challenging tradition

Diabetes researchers in the Wells Center are challenging conventional teachings. While insulin-producing beta cells were previously thought to be destroyed in people with Type 1 diabetes, a 2018 study found evidence that beta cells are still alive even years after Type 1 diagnosis.

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.

The Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research facilities include a Tissue Culture Core that makes custom media for investigators.

The center houses a Fluorescence Cytometry Core.

The Experimental Therapeutics Histology Core is located in the Wells Center for Pediatric Research.

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.