Initially known as the Pediatric Research Institute, the Kaul Pediatric Research Institute (KPRI) was created by the Board of Trustees of Children’s of Alabama in 1989 to provide internal funding for junior faculty who were just beginning their academic careers. The initial funding came from proceeds (10%) of the Children’s Miracle Network telethon, with half committed to an endowment, and the other half to support grants submitted by faculty or professionals working at Children’s of Alabama. The first grants were awarded in 1993. Following the donation of an initial $5 million from the Kaul Foundation to increase the endowment, the Board of Trustees changed the name of this program to the Kaul Pediatric Research Institute (KPRI).

KPRI Grant Program

Initially, four two-year grants of $20,000 per year were awarded. With the increase of the contributions to the KPRI and the growth of the endowment, multiple awards are made each year in the amount of $35,000 each for new investigators and $50,000 each for established investigators.

The program is competitive and peer-reviewed in an NIH format. Since 2008, $4,940,000 has been awarded for biomedical research. This represents 72 unique investigators receiving 82 awards, including 16 established investigator awards and 66 new investigator awards. KPRI recipients have received almost $60.7 million in funding. Of these 65 investigators, 53 remain at UAB.   

The major goal of the KPRI grant program is to allow investigators to obtain data that will advantage applications for additional extramural funding. This will bring new knowledge to the care of children, leverage the investment of the KPRI, and allow projects to be competitive for the very best science on the national stage. A second, but important, goal is to ensure that a dedicated funding source is available to unique segments of the pediatric research and education.

Cycle for funding is currently closed.

2021 Awardees

New Investigators

Pallavi Iyer, M.D.

Pallavi Iyer, M.D.

Associate Professor
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology & Diabetes

Project title: "Integrative Genomic Characterization of Pediatric Differentiated Thyroid Cancer"

Project summary: It is often difficult in children with thyroid nodules to determine the need and extent of surgery based solely on fine needle aspiration (FNA) results. In adults, molecular testing panel on FNA sample has been developed to decide if/what type of surgery would be beneficial. We intend to analyze genomic data from thyroid FNA samples of children to find a molecular test that will help guide clinical decisions for children.

Viral Jain, M.D.

Viral Jain, M.D.

Assistant Professor
Division of Neonatology

Project title: "Chorioamnionitis Leads to Altered Neonatal Immune System Development"

Project summary: Chorioamnionitis (chorio) is a leading cause of preterm birth and many of the preterm birth-related complications last for a lifetime, adding to significant healthcare costs. There is no effective management of such complications. This study will help us identify various mechanisms involved in causing altered immune and systemic changes in newborns exposed to chorioamnionitis. These data would help us in finding an effective therapy to prevent chorio related health problems.

Claudette Poole, M.D.

Claudette Poole, M.D.

Assistant Professor
Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases

Project title: "The Association of SARS-CoV-2 Infection and Diabetes Mellitus in Children"

Project summary: Since the start of the COVID19 pandemic, an apparent increase in the rate of children diagnosed with diabetes mellitus (DM) has been noted. Additionally, there have been several reports of children presenting in severe diabetic ketoacidosis with acute SARS-CoV-2 infection. It is of extreme importance, as well as urgent to more clearly understand this association. We propose screening all children presenting to COA with a new diagnosis of DM or with serious diabetic complications for SARS-C oV-2, and examine the viremia, viral load and characterize antiviral antibody responses in these patients.

Brandon Rocque, M.D.

Brandon Rocque, M.D.

Associate Professor
Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery

Project title: "Traumatic Stress and Shunt Failure: A Link between Psychology and Inflammation"

Project summary: Hydrocephalus is the most common reason for brain surgery in children, treated with placement of a VP shunt. However, shunts often fail by becoming blocked by brain material. This requires surgery to replace the blocked catheter. There is always a chance that a shunt will fail. The uncertainty about shunt failure can lead to significant psychological stress. It may be that this psychological stress is itself a risk factor for shunt failure. This is because stress can lead to inflammation in the brain, and inflammatory material is what blocks shunts. The purpose of this study is to identify the link between psychological stress and the brain inflammation that leads to shunt failure.

Emily Smitherman, M.D.

Emily Smitherman, M.D.

Assistant Professor
Division of Pediatric Rheumatology

Project title: "Evaluating Access to Care in Childhood-onset Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Nephritis"

Project summary: Due to high morbidity and mortality, there is a critical need to better understand how quality of care impacts patient outcomes for childhood-onset systemic lupus erythematosus (cSLE) nephritis. The current proposal will evaluate the relationship between measures of health care access and patient outcomes in cSLE nephritis. The long-term goal of this work is to develop a health care quality intervention that will improve outcomes for patients with cSLE nephritis.

Kent Willis, M.D.

Kent Willis, M.D.

Assistant Professor
Division of Neonatology

Project title: "The Mycobiome Shapes Oxygen Exposure Lung Injury in Newborns via the Chitin­ Binding Receptor FIBCDl"

Project summary: Bronchopulmonary dysplasia effects half of all premature infants and reduces their lung function for the remainder of their lives, greatly contributing to their extensive lifetime healthcare cost. Emerging evidence suggests that the fungi that naturally live in the gut and lungs may affect lung injury and repair. In this proposal, we will explore how lung fungi may interact with a type of lung cell that coordinates lung repair. This will help us identify a new mechanism we could explore in future grants, eventually aiming to produce a new therapy for bronchopulmonary dysplasia.

Established Investigators

William Britt, M.D.

William Britt, M.D.

Professor
Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases

Project title: "Seasonal Coronavirus Infections and Antibody Responses to SARS-CoV-2"

Project summary: We have proposed a study that will help catalog the antibody responses to the outer portion of the human coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, that is responsible for the current pandemic. It is believed that antibodies against this portion of the virus will modify infection and disease associated with this virus. Thus, the goal of current vaccine programs is to generate antibodies against this component of the virus. We will determine how responses to related coronaviruses that commonly infect children influence responses to SARS-CoV-2 and potentially influence responses to vaccines, a critical but unanswered question for vaccine development.

Randy Cron, M.D.

Randy Cron, M.D.

Professor
Division of Pediatric Rheumatology

Project title: "Functional Genomics of Novel Cytokine Storm Syndrome Genes Linked with SARS-CoV- 2"

Project summary: Cytokine storm syndrome (CSS) is a frequently fatal complication of a variety of infections, including the novel pandemic coronavirus, SARS-CoV- 2. There is a strong genetic linkage involving the function of white blood cells that fail to appropriately shut down an immune response leading to multi-system organ failure. There are over a dozen genes linked to CSS, but these have not been explored in SARS­ CoV-2. The goal of this proposal is to identify novel genes that contribute to CSS in children and adults with SARS-CoV-2 related diseases to better understand disease mechanism, and to help identify appropriate therapy for CSS.

Past Awardees

2020

2020

New Investigator Award

Nitin Arora, M.D.
Assistant Professor
Division of Neonatology

Project title: Interaction Between HCMV and FcRn to Understand Viral Transcytosis Across the Maternal-Fetal Interface.

Sam Gentle, M.D.
Assistant Professor
Division of Neonatology

Project title: Reducing Adverse Delivery Outcomes Through Teleneonatology: a Feasibility Study

Marissa Gowey, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology

Project title: Targeting Self-Regulation in Family-Based Behavioral Treatment for Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease Prevention  

Bhuvana Sunil, M.D.
Assistant Professor
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology & Diabetes

Project title: Disparities in Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Youth with Type 2 Diabetes

Colm Travers, M.D.
Assistant Professor
Division of Neonatology

Project title: Predicting Episodes of Bradycardia Among Infants with Apnea of Prematurity  

Established Investigator Award 

Suresh Boppana, M.D.
Professor
Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases

Project title: Role of HCMV Envelope Protein Glycosylation Patterns on Virus Neutralization

Ambika Ashraf, M.D.
Professor
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology & Diabetes

Project title: Gut Microbiome and Type 2 Diabetes in Children

2019

2019

New Investigator Awards

Ammar Alishlash, M.D.
Assistant Professor
Pediatric Pulmonary & Sleep Medicine 
Prostacyclin Agonist Therapy for Acute Chest Syndrome in Sickle Cell Mouse Model


Emily E. Johnston, M.D., MS
Assistant Professor
Pediatric Hematology/Oncology
End-of-Life Care of AL Children with Cancer: Disparities and Parent Priorities


Michael A. Lopez, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Pediatric Neurology
Smad8 in Dystrophic Muscle Disease & Its Role in MicroRNA Regulation & Disease


Donna L. Murdaugh, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Pediatric Hematology/Oncology
A Longitudinal Pilot Study Examining Neurocognitive Outcomes in Survivors of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Before and After a Cognitive Remediation Program 


Gabriela R. Oates, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Pediatric Pulmonary & Sleep Medicine
Technology-Enabled Patient Support System for Self-management of Pediatric Cystic Fibrosis 


Swetha G. Pinninti, M.D.
Assistant Professor
Pediatric Infectious Disease
Significance of co-infection with CMV and STI’s during pregnancy


Aman Wadhwa, M.D.
Instructor (7/1/2019)
Pediatric Hematology/Oncology
Body Composition and Adverse Outcomes in Childhood Cancer


Established Investigator Award

Shannon A. Ross, M.D., MSPH
Associate Professor
Pediatric Infectious Disease
Neuroimaging Findings and Hearing Outcome in Asymptomatic Congenital CMV Infection

2018

2018

New Investigator Awards

Ismail S. Mohamed, M.D.
Associate Professor
Pediatric Neurology

Project title: Computational Neurology for Non-invasive Delineation of the Epileptogenic Zone

Robert P. Richter, M.D.
Assistant Professor
Pediatric Critical Care

Project title: Heparanase and Endotheliopathy in Pediatric Sepsis

Robert T. Russell, M.D.
Associate Professor
Pediatric General Surgery

Project title: Coagulopathy Following Head Injury in Pediatric Trauma: From Bedside to Bench

Arial A. Salas, M.D.
Assistant Professor
Neonatology

Project title: Effect of Increased Enteral Protein on Body Composition of Preterm Infants: A Randomized Trial

Established Investigator Awards

Daniel I. Feig, M.D.
Professor
Pediatric Nephrology

Project title: ESTaBLISH: Impact of Early life STressors on the BLood pressure and vascular function In adoleScents and cHildren 

Gregory K. Friedman, M.D.
Associate Professor
Pediatric Hematology & Oncology

Project title: Immunovirotherapy to Target Pediatric Brain Tumors

Wendy Landier, Ph.D., RN
Associate Professor
Pediatric Hematology & Oncology

Project title: Integrating Technology to Enhance Patient/Family Education in Pediatric Oncology

2017

2017

New Investigator Awards

Matthew Alexander, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Pediatric Neurology
“Genetic modifiers of Duchenne muscular dystrophy via genome sequencing of discordant siblings”

Margaux Barnes, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, & Nutrition
“Mediational Analysis of Diet, Physical Activity, and Lean Mass in Youth with IBD”

Jegen Kandasamy, M.D.
Assistant Professor
Neonatology
“Mitochondrial Genetic Contribution to Hyperoxia Induced Lung Injury”

Charitharth (Vivek) Lal, M.D.
Assistant Professor
Neonatology
“The Role of Microbiome Induced Ac-PGP in Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia”

Colin Martin, M.D.
Assistant Professor
Pediatric Surgery
“Maternal and Environmental Influence on Early Neonatal Immunity”

Michael Seifert, M.D.
Assistant Professor
Pediatric Nephrology
“Early Life Stress and Cardio-renal Disease in Kidney Transplantation"

Established Investigator Awards

Elizabeth Beierle, M.D.
Professor
Pediatric Surgery
“Role of PIM kinase in maintaining hepatoblastoma tumor initiating cell population”

Karen Fowler, Ph.D.
Professor
Pediatric Infectious Diseases
“Racial & ethnic disparities in congenital CMV infection: role of maternal CMV”

2016

2016

Established Investigator Awards

Dr. Suresh Boppana 

Project title: Vestibular and Balance Disorders in Children with Congenital CMV Infection (Sergio Stagno Award)

Dr. Randy Cron

Project title: Inhibition of HIV-1 Expression by Regulatory CD4 T Cells (Rud Pohill Award)

New Investigator Awards

Dr. Jennifer Guimbellot

Project title: Development of Personalized Approaches to CFTR Modulator Efficacy

Dr. Manran Ramani

Project title: Mechanisms by which Retinoids Attenuate Hyperoxia-Induced Memory Deficits in Mice

Dr. Julie Wolfson

Project title: A Comprehensive Investigation of Outcome Disparities in Children, Adolescents, & Young Adults with Cancer

Dr. Veronica Sanchez

Project title: HCMV Affects Glioblastoma Invasive Phenotypes

Dr. Purnima Singh

Project title: Molecular Pathogenesis of Anthracycline-related Congestive Heart Failure in Childhood Cancer Survivors

KPRI Quality and Safety Awards

In 2016 Children’s of Alabama and the Kaul Pediatric Research Institute (KPRI) began the KPRI Quality and Safety Award Program. The major goal of the this grant program is to allow teams to identify and address specific quality and safety issues that cannot easily be addressed using existing operational resources or structures.

2020 Awardees

Nicole Samies, D.O.
Fellow
Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases

Project title: Review of Bacterial Tracheitis Diagnosis and Management

Mary Lauren Scott, M.D.
Associate Professor
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology & Diabetes

Project title: Improving Glycemic Control in High-risk Patients with Type I Diabetes

Past Awardees

2019

2019

Michael Seifert, M.D.
Pediatric Nephrology

Project title: Reducing residual cardiac risk after pediatric kidney transplantation

Betsy Hopson, MSHA

Project title: QI project to improve bowel management in Spina Bifida Clinic

Avi Madan-Swain, Ph.D.
Pediatric Hematology and Oncology
Margaux Barnes, Ph.D.
Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition

Project title: Improving family centered psychosocial screening

2017

2017

David Galloway, M.D.
Assistant Professor
Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, & Nutrition
“Improving Care for Pediatric Constipation: A joint effort between pediatricians and gastroenterologists” 

Chrystal Rutledge, M.D.
Assistant Professor
Pediatric Critical Care 
“Development of a Novel Nursing-Focused Pediatric Advanced Life Support Training Program”

2016

2016

Dr. Robert Russell

Project title: Quality Improvement in Imaging Strategies for Ped Appendicitis

Dr. Leslie Hayes

Project title: Reducing Waste in the PICU Through a Standardized Lab Reduction Strategy