A new partnership between two upstate New York entities will translate advances in neuroscience into improved treatments for children with cerebral palsy and other neurological diseases.
The Burke Medical Research Institute (BMRI) in White Plains and Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla have launched the Burke-Blythedale Pediatric Neuroscience Research Collaboration — the first of its kind between a research institute and a children’s specialty hospital — to investigate the developing nervous system and find new treatments.
“With BMRI’s expertise in brain repair, and Blythedale’s expertise in the care of medically fragile children, we are poised to make great advances in science and clinical care,” David Pedowitz, Blythedale board chair, said in a press release. Added Robert Baldoni, BMRI board chair: “We don’t know enough about how injury affects the developing brain. This partnership offers a unique opportunity to accelerate the scientific discoveries and clinical advances that these children desperately need.”
The Burke-Blythedale collaboration seeks to improve movement, vision and cognition impairments caused by cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, stroke and birth defects, among other things.
BMRI, founded in 1978, is among the world’s largest free-standing research institutes devoted to nervous system repair. It boasts 100 researchers in 18 laboratories and more than 20,000 feet of recently renovated laboratory space. Blythedale is New York state’s only independent, specialty children’s hospital and one of only 19 pediatric specialty hospitals in the United States.
Jason Carmel, MD, PhD, will supervise the joint effort. In 2013, Carmel launched a clinic for children with brain injuries at Blythedale. He now heads BRMI’s Motor Recovery Laboratory and is an assistant professor at Cornell University. Carmel is trained in pediatric neurology and neuroscience, and has experience in electrical brain stimulation to improve movement.
According to the Child Neurology Foundation, one in six kids today suffers from a function-limiting neurological condition, but very few treatments are currently available.
“While Blythedale patients make gains every day because of our superb clinical staff, we see the cutting-edge research at BMRI as critical to bringing the next generation of therapies to children with neurological disabilities,” said Larry Levine, Blythedale’s president and CEO.
“Today, as scientists and doctors, we too often have to tell our patients and their families, ‘We cannot help you,’” Carmel added. “Through the discoveries and treatments we expect of this collaboration, we will be able to tell these same patients, ‘Yes, we can help you.’”