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CHIIP Clinic Research Projects

The Human Immunology Discovery Initiative

The physicians in the CHIIP clinic want to provide the best care to your child while leading efforts to better understand immune and blood system interaction in health and disease. To accomplish both of these goals, we have developed an innovative research program with scientists across the Vanderbilt campus to study patients with both known and undiagnosed immune and blood disorders.

As part of your CHIIP clinic visit, one of our physicians may approach you about our Human Immunology Discovery Initiative (HIDI) research project. If you agree to partake in this study, we will draw a small amount of your child's blood during routine clinic blood work. This will prevent your child from having to go through separate blood draws.

Depending on your child’s medical condition, scientists may perform one or more of the following evaluations on the collected cells:

  • Extensive profiling of the immune cells. We want to learn if your child has the correct amount of cells and if they are working correctly.
  • Looking at your child’s genes to know if we can find a genetic reason for their illness
  • Applying medications to your child’s blood cells. This may help ups learn how the medications work, and learn if we can turn the cells on or off to function better.

Any scientist not in the CHIIP clinic researching your child’s blood cells will not know any identifying information about your child, such as name, birth date or home address.

The purpose of HIDI is to further our knowledge about human blood disorders. But our doctors may also learn about your child’s blood cells, which will help us care for future patients. Such information may include a genetic diagnosis or an answer as to why your child may or may not respond to a medication. If we think this information will benefit your child, CHIIP physicians will discuss this research, and what it means for your child, carefully and thoroughly with you.

Newborn screening of severe immune disorders

Most infants born with immune disorders will look completely normal at birth. They often remain healthy at first, but can become seriously ill from even the most common infections. Through a national movement, CHIIP physicians have led the State of Tennessee to screen children at birth for the most severe forms of immune disorders, knows as Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, or SCID.

This endeavor has already saved the lives of many Tennessee babies. Physicians across the state can now implement infection prevention measures and, in some cases, curative therapy with bone marrow transplant, before infants get sick. Also, by identifying children at birth, we can study the evolution of disease from the onset of life and learn how to predict and prevent severe complications.

Working together for children with immune and blood disorders

The best type of research for children with rare disorders takes place when physicians and scientists around the world work together. Physicians in our CHIIP clinic are involved in leadership roles in prominent clinical and research consortium groups studying immune and blood disorders and treatment. They regularly submit their research to the following national and international consortia.