Lab History & Future

Foundation of the Pediatric Surgery Division at UCSF

The history of the Pediatric Surgery Lab revolves around the history of the formation of the Pediatric Surgery division by Dr. Alfred deLorimier. He founded the Division of Pediatric Surgery at UCSF and single handedly managed his prosperous practice (ably assisted by his wife, Sandy, in the office). He established the Division and managed to obtain funding for basic research in the physiology of diaphragmatic hernia in fetal lambs at a time when most surgeons did not even attempt research.

In January 1978, deLorimier recruited Dr. Michael Harrison who was just finishing his pediatric surgery fellowship at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. For the next 10 years, these two shared a growing practice, heavy on complex surgical reconstruction in children, particularly for babies with birth defects. The Division continued to thrive under deLorimier's leadership. This was a very busy time when the exciting work in a brand new field attracted talented young surgeons from all over the world to work in the Division and field research laboratory. Harrison devoted himself (and later many bright young surgical research fellows) to developing the new field of fetal diagnosis and therapy. They developed fetal animal models of fetal diseases and applied what they learned in the first fetal surgeries in the world.

For more visit the Pediatric Surgery Division History.

Pediatric & Fetal Surgery: The Past Five Years

Under the direction and leadership of Division Chief Diana Farmer, MD and Fetal Treatment Center Director Hanmin Lee, MD, the UCSF Division of Pediatric Surgery and Fetal Treatment Center has experienced tremendous growth over the past few years. Despite the recent economic recession, our clinical practices in Pediatric and Fetal Surgery have continued to be extremely successful. Our patient population has consistently increased each year, along with our profitability.

As a result of our strong financial position, we have been able to expand our academic, clinical, and research staff. Our once spacious-seeming Fetal Treatment Center space is now bustling at maximum capacity. Though our clinical and academic offices are busier than ever, there is a widespread feeling that things have never run this smoothly.

Pediatric Surgery and Fetal Treatment Laboratory Research

Our clinical and basic science research programs have grown remarkably in productivity and funding in the past five years. We currently have more than $4 million in grants and awards for our faculty and fellows-a tremendous achievement after having limited funding for several years.

Our center has been working on a multicenter NIH-funded Management of Myelomeningocele Study (MOMS) for the past seven years. FTC Director Hanmin Lee has established himself as a world-renowned expert on treating twin-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) and is leading efforts to develop a better strategy for treating congenital diaphragmatic hernia in utero. Former Division Chief/FTC Director Michael Harrison has developed the Magnetic Mini-Mover Procedure, a novel and highly creative method of correcting pectus excavatum that is now entering a phase III FDA-sponsored multicenter trial. After being awarded a half-million dollars from a new FDA grant program, Drs. Harrison and Hirose are leading the UCSF Pediatric Device Consortium, whose mission is to facilitate the development of novel pediatric medical devices. Finally, the hard work of Doug Miniati and Tippi MacKenzie, who each have 75% protected research time, is starting to pay off after two years setting up their respective laboratories. Dr. Miniati was recently awarded a prestigious K award from NIH-NHLBI to support his research on the underlying biology and pathophysiology of pulmonary development, and Dr. MacKenzie has been honored with numerous grants from surgical foundations to fund her exciting research into overcoming barriers to engraftment in in utero hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

The Future of our Research

As we look ahead to the future, we will continue to develop both our clinical and research presences. Specifically, we are looking to expand our clinical pediatric surgery services to a fourth site, San Francisco General Hospital, in addition to our coverage at California Pacific Medical Center, Kaiser San Francisco, and here at UCSF on Parnassus. Simultaneously, our fetal practice continues to seek out new collaborations with programs all over the country and world through our comprehensive online patient web portal, Inside.

Looking further ahead, we are extremely excited about moving both our pediatric and fetal surgery practices to the UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay's brand-new Women's, Children's, and Cancer hospital complex when it opens in 2014. We are embarking on research collaborations on stem cell transplantation with our colleagues at CHO. Finally, the research arm of our division is poised to grow exponentially as the exciting early efforts of our junior faculty gain momentum.