Packard/Stanford scientists honored by the Society for Pediatric Research

-- Atul Butte and Jeffrey Gould, scientists at Stanford University and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, were recognized for their research contributions Monday (3) at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Vancouver.
Butte, MD, PhD, received the 2010 Young Investigator Award, which consistently identifies rising stars in children's health research. He is considered a leading scientist in the field of translational bioinformatics.
Gould, MD, MPH, received the Douglas K. Richardson Award for Perinatal and Pediatric Health Care Research in recognition of his lifetime achievements as a clinical investigator. An internationally known neonatologist and epidemiologist, Gould has conducted influential research on improving perinatal outcomes through the use of data.
Both awards were presented by the Society for Pediatric Research.
‘A true pioneer’ in translational bioinformatics
"It's quite an honor for me to be recognized in this way," said Butte, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Stanford and a pediatrician at Packard Children’s.

Butte studies health problems ranging from type-2 diabetes to cancer to organ transplantation, using computers to find patterns in large public repositories of biological data. Over the last decade, thanks to techniques such as genetic microarrays, scientists have uncovered vast quantities of information about gene activity and disease. There's so much data that it's challenging to pick salient findings from the soup of excess information.

Butte's team takes an unconventional approach to this problem: They develop novel statistical methods to combine and understand the numbers from many other scientists' experiments.
"This enables us to ask new kinds of questions we couldn't ask before," Butte said. "Thinking about those questions is the fun part of my work." (A new video of Butte discussing bioinformatics can be viewed at
For instance, his team is now hunting for genes that initiate type-2 diabetes, a disease the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says will affect one-third of today's children at some point in their lives. Butte's research began with results of 70 published gene-activity experiments from diabetic rodents and humans.
The award includes a $2,000 honorarium.
"Dr. Butte is a true pioneer in the field of translational bioinformatics," said Hugh O'Brodovich, professor and chair of pediatrics at Stanford and physician-in-chief at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. "It's wonderful that his innovative approach to pediatric research is being recognized with this honor."
An award memorializing ‘a very close friend’
In an interview shortly before leaving for the meeting in Vancouver, Gould described why receiving the Douglas Richardson Award was especially meaningful to him: The award’s namesake was “a very close friend” and professional colleague. Indeed, the two scientists were planning to collaborate on a study at the time of Richardson’s death, in 2002.

An associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, Richardson was best known for his research on neonatal illness severity and variations in neonatal clinical practice.

“I’m really quite honored,” said Gould, the Robert L. Hess Professor in Pediatrics at Stanford and director of the Perinatal Epidemiology and Health Outcomes Research Unit at Packard Children’s. “It not only recognizes my own personal work, but also the importance of developing analytical and organization strategies to allow us to focus on perinatal care.”
Gould is principal investigator of the California Perinatal Quality Care Collaborative, a statewide effort that he helped to launch more than a decade ago to improve perinatal care with robust databases and better resource management.
“Jeff Gould's phenomenal skills as a health care delivery investigator and team builder have enabled the creation of the CPQCC, which is unique in the nation and has greatly improved the outcome for prematurely born infants," O'Brodovich said.
More than 90 percent of neonatal intensive care units in the state participate in the collaborative, which provides tools and quality-improvement techniques to organizations and individuals involved at all levels of perinatal care, Gould said, adding: “CPQCC has become a model for the rest of the country.”
Information on the project can be found online at The Richardson Award includes a $500 honorarium.



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