SPARKS, the medical charity, has announced that Professor Agustino Pierro is to receive one of its two 2008 Tributes.
His award was for work in paediatric surgery in general and in treating necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) in particular.
Professor Pierro is Nuffield Professor of Paediatric Surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital and the UCL Institute of Child Health. He is Head of Department and has worked there since 1994.
NEC is a life-threatening disorder in babies, where an infection causes the bowel to rot and become perforated. Without treatment, the condition is usually fatal. Even with surgery, sadly, around 30 per cent of the children die, which makes it one of the most serious conditions in paediatric surgery. Professor Pierro and team are experimenting with two new treatments, one involving the deliberate cooling of the child, the other the use of amniotic stem cells. Both have been beneficial in the lab.
The unit headed by Professor Pierro sees 40-50 children a year with the condition, which makes it the largest centre in the UK, and one of the largest in the world, treating NEC.
The department has a wide ranging research programme, being particularly expert at conducting randomised controlled trials in surgery in children. The unit has a leading role in the UK and is one of the leading centres worldwide, at developing the robust evidence base for surgery in children.
Research includes using specific nutritional supplements to support children undergoing surgery; the benefits of minimally invasive techniques; improving TPN (where the child is fed directly into the bloodstream); stem cell work (embryonic stem cells are not used); and the NEC work above. SPARKS has funded a number of these key projects.
Professor Pierro said “I am delighted and honoured to receive this award, which I accept on behalf of my colleagues. I hope it will give the cause of paediatric surgery a higher profile.”
Paul Connew of SPARKS said “Professor Pierro’s award was unanimously chosen by the Tribute Gala committee. It was both a tribute to his pioneering research into necrotising enterocolitis among babies, but also to his distinguished and internationally-renowned career generally in the field of paediatric medicine.”
Sparks is that rarity, a children’s charity that funds cutting edge research across the whole spectrum of paediatric medicine. Founded and supported by leading sportsmen and women and prominent figures from the entertainment industry , the charity has raised almost £16 million to fund pioneering research into conditions as diverse as childhood cancers, juvenile arthritis, club foot, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy and the many problems associated with premature birth, among many others.
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