The Advancing Healthcare for Children symposium, hosted by The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute along with its research partners Drexel University and Hebrew University of Jerusalem, set the stage for collaborative "dream teams" of investigators to shape innovative solutions to address unmet medical needs.

Held Jan. 27-29, the symposium was a kickoff event for a research agreement that the three institutions announced in November. The arrangement came about in part as a result of a trade mission Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter led to Israel. On the opening day of the symposium, after proudly noting that Children's Hospital was "the best children's hospital in the U.S.," Mayor Nutter said that he could think of no better place to celebrate such a "tremendous collaboration."

The symposium featured sessions on a wide range of topics, from the nervous system to orphan diseases to pediatric cancers. For example, during the session "Transformative Approaches to Diseases and Disorders of Childhood," Director of CHOP Research Philip R. Johnson, MD, challenged researchers to consider the interplay of genomics and microbiomes as they discover ways to advance pediatric care.

Over the course of the symposium, investigators from all three organizations presented. Researchers from Children's Hospital included Robert J. Levy, MD, Stewart Anderson, MD, Hakon Hakonarson, MD, PhD, and Marni Falk, MD. Drexel University's representatives included Kenny Simansky, PhD, Amir Toib, MD, and Sriram Balasubramanian, PhD. Hebrew University investigators included Rami Yaka, PhD, Eylon Yavin, PhD, and Galia Blum, PhD.

Participants also met privately for one-on-one discussions that served as the first step in the formation of research-oriented dream teams to tackle pediatric diseases.

"The symposium really exceeded our expectations," said CHOP Research's Deputy Scientific Director Tom Curran, PhD, FRS, who led the organization of the symposium. "It set the tone for us to work together, transcending traditional boundaries, and forming unique collaborations with the common theme of improving the health and welfare of children."