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Boston Children's Hospital

Boston Children's Hospital

Boston Children's Hospital (called Children's Hospital Boston until 2012)[1] is a 404-licensed-bed children's hospital in the Longwood Medical and Academic Area of Boston, Massachusetts.[2] At 300 Longwood Avenue, Children's is adjacent both to its teaching affiliate, Harvard Medical School, and to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Dana-Farber and Children's jointly operate Dana-Farber/Children's Hospital Cancer Care to deliver comprehensive care to patients and survivors of all types of childhood cancers.

Boston Children's Hospital
Longwood Avenue main entrance
Location300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Care systemPrivate
Hospital typeTeaching
Affiliated universityHarvard Medical School
Emergency departmentLevel I Regional Pediatric Trauma Center
Beds404 licensed beds
SpecialityPediatrics and pediatric subspecialties
Websitechildrenshospital.org [58]
ListsHospitals in Massachusetts


One of the largest pediatric medical centers in the United States,[3] Children's offers a complete range of health care services for children from birth through 21 years of age. Its Advanced Fetal Care Center can begin interventions at 15 weeks gestation,[4] and, in some situations (e.g., congenital heart disease and strabismus), Children's also treats adult patients.[5] The institution is home to 40 clinical departments and 258 specialized clinical programs.[6]

From October 1, 2017, through September 30, 2018 (Children's Fiscal Year 2018), the hospital recorded:

  • 622,000 outpatient visits

  • 60,000 emergency department visits

  • 28,000 inpatient and day surgical cases

  • 5.4-day average length of stay

  • a 2.13 average case-mix

The hospital's clinical staff includes approximately 2,000 active medical and dental staff, 3,000 nurses, 475 residents, fellows and interns, 1,596 full-time nurses. In addition to clinical personnel, Boston Children's has the largest pediatric research enterprise with 3,000 researchers and scientific staff and more NIH funding than any other children's hospital. A trained team of more than 460 volunteers devote thousands of hours each year to support the hospital staff and patients. Sandra Fenwick is the current president and COO, having replaced urologist Dr. James Mandell on October 1, 2013.[7] Dr. Kevin Churchwell, Executive Vice President of Health Affairs and COO since 2013, was named the President of Boston Children's Hospital in September 2018.

The International Center at Boston Children's Hospital serves over 2,500 patients from more than 140 countries. Services provided including coordination of visits, medical records, travel, accommodation, and immigration. The hospital offers a global medical second opinion program in partnership with Grand Rounds.[8]

Children's operated its own Critical Care Transport Team, staffed by a team of two critical care transport registered nurses and a Critical Care Paramedic. Boston Children's is part of the consortium of hospitals that operates Boston MedFlight as a flight resource for transports needing a helicopter or jet. The hospital has planned several neighborhood air quality studies, having already completed some, out of concern of the environmental impact of hospital traffic from an array of motor vehicles.

Boston Children's Hospital has received numerous awards. In 2019, for example, Boston Children's Hospital was ranked the top pediatric hospital by U.S. News & World Report for the sixth year in a row.[9] In addition, the hospital has been ranked one of the nation's top hospitals specializing in pediatric care for thirty years in a row as of 2019 by the U.S. News & World Report. [10] (Boston Children's ranked in the top three of all pediatric specialty categories and number one in cancer, cardiology and heart surgery, diabetes and endocrinology, gastroenterology & GI surgery, nephrology, neurology & neurosurgery, orthopedics, pulmonology, and urology.[11]) Boston Children's was the first stand-alone pediatric hospital in New England to be awarded Magnet status by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.[12]

At the center of the Boston Children's hospital campus is the Prouty Memorial Garden and Terrace. Since its creation in 1956,[13] it has been a place of solace for children and their families. Despite vigorous neighborhood protest against the demolition of the Prouty Garden,[14][15][16] the hospital has planned more buildings in the location currently occupied by the garden.[17][18]

The decisions related to the Prouty Garden were carefully considered over many years.  The planning for this expansion has included clinicians, patient families, senior hospital leadership, as well as the Prouty family and their foundation representatives. The hospital claims responsibility to advance pediatric care, which they plan to do through the expansion project. This project would provide Boston Children's with substantial facility upgrades and new space to better enable coordination across disciplines.[19]


Children's was founded on July 20, 1869, by Dr. Francis Henry Brown, a Civil War surgeon, who traveled to Europe in 1867 to study the pioneering specialized approach to treating children. Brown was impressed with the treatments he witnessed and he wanted to bring that level of care to Boston. Brown opened a 20-bed facility in a small townhouse at 9 Rutland Street in Boston's South End.

Approximately one year after opening, the hospital was moved to the corner of Rutland and Washington Streets. Children's Hospital stayed at this location until 1871 when the hospital moved to Huntington Avenue before its final move to what would become the Longwood Medical and Academic Area.[20]

In 1891 Thomas Morgan Rotch, Children's chief physician, established the nation's first laboratory for the modification and production of bacteria-free milk. Before the establishment of this laboratory, breast milk was often the carrier of many deadly diseases[21] that children were especially susceptible to.

Harvard Medical School affiliated itself with Boston Children's in 1903 .

Dr. William Ladd, a doctor with Children's, devised procedures for correcting various congenital defects such as intestinal malformations in 1920, launching the specialty of pediatric surgery.[22]

Dr. Robert E. Gross, a surgeon at Children's and later a professor of child surgery at Harvard Medical School,[23] performed the world's first successful surgical procedure to correct a congenital cardiovascular defect with the "ligation of a patent ductus arteriosus"[23] in 1938, ushering in the era of modern pediatric cardiac surgery.

Dr. Sidney Farber, pediatric pathologist, requested Dr. Yellapragada Subbarow (of Lederle lab and his friend and colleague at Harvard Medical School) to supply Aminopterin and later Amethopterin (Methotrexate) to conduct trials on to children with leukemia, a diagnosis that was deemed a "death sentence,"[24] in 1948. He achieved the world's first partial remission of acute leukemia. He went on to co-found the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in 1950.

Dr. John Enders, his assistant Thomas Weller, and colleague Frederick Robbins, successfully cultured the polio virus in 1949, making possible the development of the Salk and Sabin vaccines for polio. They won the Nobel Prize for their work in 1954. Enders and his team went on to culture the measles virus.

Dr. Judah Folkman published "Tumor angiogenesis: Therapeutic implications" in the 1971 November issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. It was the first paper to describe Folkman's theory that tumors recruit new blood vessels to grow.

The Boston Brace, a new, lower profile brace for patients with scoliosis was developed by Chief of Orthopedics John E. Hall and orthotist Bill Miller at the Boston Children's scoliosis clinic in 1972.[24]

Boston Children's conducted a widespread study on donated teeth from children living in Chelsea and Somerville in the 1970s to study how lead effected children's behavior, development and IQ. The results showed that "children whose teeth had the highest lead levels were far behind those with the lowest on measures including IQ, motor coordination and attentiveness in class."[24]

Hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a defect in which an infant is born without a functioning left ventricle was first treated via surgical palliation in 1983. The procedure was the first to palliate what had been a fatal condition. Three years later, in 1986, Children's surgeons performed the hospital's first heart transplant. Later in the year, a 15-month-old patient became the youngest person in New England to receive a heart transplant.

Boston Children’s Chief of Hematology and Oncology David Nathan recommended for Claudia De Pass, a young patient with sickle cell disease, to try Hydroxyurea, a drug used to treat blood cancer, to treat her sickle cell disease. The treatment worked and Hydroxyurea is now broadly used to treat sickle cell disease.[24]

Researchers in neurology and genetics discover the toxicity beta amyloid, a protein that accumulates in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease, to neurons in 1989. This discovery indicates beta amyloid as the possible cause of the degenerative disease.[25]

Endostatin, one of the most potent inhibitors of blood vessel growth, is discovered by Drs. Michael O'Reilly and Judah Folkman in 1997.[26] In mice, endostatin has shown promise in slowing some cancers to a dormant state. Phase I clinical trials began at three centers in 1999.

Dr. Evan Snyder clones the first neural stem cells from the human central nervous system of a fetus in 1998,[27] offering the possibility of cell replacement and gene therapies for patients with neurodegenerative disease, neural injury or paralysis.

In 1998 Children's establishes its Advanced Fetal Care Center to provide diagnostic services, genetic and obstetrical counseling, and prenatal or immediate postpartum intervention for fetuses with complex birth defects. The same year, Larry Benowitz [59] , PhD grows nerve cells in the damaged spinal cords of rats, a significant step in the treatment of spinal cord injuries. The next year, Benowitz discovers that inosine is important in controlling axon regeneration in nerve cells.[28]

Since 2000

In 2002 Dr. Scott Pomeroy and Dr. Todd Golub use microarray gene expression profiling to identify different types of brain tumors and predict clinical outcome. This allows radiation and chemotherapy to be tailored to kill cancer cells while leaving healthy tissue alone.[26] Also in 2002, Dr. Nader Rifai helps to author a paper showing that cholesterol levels and LSD use are less accurate predictors of predisposition to strokes and heart attacks then presence of a C-reactive protein that can be found in blood test results.[26]

Dr. Heung Bae Kim and Dr. Tom Jaksic develop, test and successfully perform the world's first serial transverse enteroplasty (STEP) procedure for patients with short bowel syndrome in 2003.[26] The next year, Children's surgeons perform New England's first multi visceral organ transplant when 11-month-old Abdullah Alazemi receives a stomach, pancreas, liver, and small intestine from a single donor.[29]

In 2005, in the best-documented effort to date, Drs. Felix Engel and Mark Keating get adult heart-muscle cells to divide and multiply in mammals, the first step in regenerating heart tissue.[30] Also in 2005, neurosurgeon Benjamin War [60] f brought a technique back to Boston Children's for shuntlesly treating hydrocephalus, the condition of excess fluid around the brain.[24]

In 2006, Dr. Dale Umetsu, Dr. Omid Akbari and colleagues reported that a newly recognized type of immune cell, NKT, may play an important role in causing asthma, even in the absence of conventional T-helper cells. In addition, NKT cells respond to a different class of antigens that are currently recognized to trigger asthma.[26] In that same year, Dr. Larry Benowitz and colleagues discoved a naturally occurring growth factor called oncomodulin that stimulates regeneration in injured optic nerves, raising the possibility of treating blindness due to optic-nerve damage and the hope of achieving similar regeneration in the spinal cord and brain.[26]

Norman Spack co-founds Boston Children's Hospital's Gender Management Service (GeMS) clinic in 2007; it is America's first clinic to treat transgender children.[31][32] The clinic provides " counseling and resources in the years before medical intervention is appropriate, along with psychological support and a stepwise approach to medical treatment."[24]

In order to re-oxygenate blood, Dr. John Kheir and Dr. Tahir Saleem N. Jutt (Cardiac) develop particles that can be injected into a bloodstream in 2012.[33]

Boston Children's Hospital became part of a dispute between medical doctors, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, and the parents of a teenager, Justina Pelletier in 2013-2014.[34] Doctors and psychologists at Boston Children's Hospital diagnosed Justina with (somatic symptom disorder),[35][36] a different diagnosis than the one she had previously received from Tufts University School of Medicine Hospital doctors (mitochondrial disease). Boston Children's Hospital requested that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Children and Families protect and remove the patient from her parent's custody, due to concern for a situation of "medical child abuse." At the request of the Department of Children and Families and Boston Children's Hospital officials, the girl was made a ward of the state of Massachusetts.[37] Justina Pelletier was held in Boston Children's Hospital's psychiatric ward, Bader 5, from February 14, 2013, until January 2014, when she was transferred to Wayside Youth and Family Support Network, a residential treatment center in Framingham.[38][39][40][41] On June 17, 2014, the same Massachusetts judge who issued the initial ruling dismissed the case against her parents and returned Justina to her family.[42]

In collaboration with Life Technologies, Boston Children's the hospital spun out its genetic diagnostic lab, in January 2013 to a new firm called Claritas Genomics. The goal of the partnership was to develop genetic and genomic tests for inherited pediatric diseases. Five years later, in January 2018, Claritas ceased operations. The hospital remained Claritas' majority shareholder during its existence, and a Series B funding round was completed in 2015, raising at least US$15 million.[43]

The hospital received approval by the Massachusetts Public Health Council in 2016 for a $1 billion expansion to the Longwood Medical and Academic Area. The hospital plans to build an 11-story building with 71 new beds, renovate part of the current campus, and build a new outpatient clinic in Brookline, Massachusetts.[44]


With more than 1,000,000 square feet (93,000 m2) of laboratory space including 58,000 square-feet of clinical research space, the hospital's research enterprise is larger than any other pediatric medical center in the world.[45] Its discoveries have benefited children and adults since 1869. As of 2018, the hospital's research staff included over 3,000 researchers and scientific staff. Boston Children's researchers have been honored as members of the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute.[45] In fiscal year 2018, the hospital reported $338 million spent on research.

Laboratory facilities

John F. Enders Pediatric Research LaboratoriesNamed in honor ofJohn Franklin Enders, the Boston Children's Hospital researcher andNobel laureatewho culturedpoliovirusand themeasles virus.[45]Karp Family Research LaboratoriesThis 295,000-square-foot (27,400 m2) building opened in 2003 and increased the hospital's research space by over 60%.[45]Center for Life ScienceBoston Children's Hospital researchers currently occupy more than 4 floors of this 700,000 square-foot, privately-managed research facility

Informatics program

The Computational Health Informatics Program (CHIP) at Boston Children's Hospital was founded in 1994.[46] The program's research includes several free and open-source software projects.[47]

Stem cell program

In an effort to support the research community, Children's Stem Cell Program investigator George Q. Daley, M.D., Ph.D., has made dozens of iPS lines developed at Boston Children's Hospital available for use by other scientists through the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.

In 2010, a drug that boosts numbers of blood stem cells, originally discovered in zebrafish in the Boston Children's Hospital laboratory of Leonard I. Zon, M.D., went to clinical trial in patients with leukemia and lymphoma.

Nobel Prizes

Children's Hospital scientist Dr. John Enders and his team were first to successfully culture the polio virus and were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1954.[48]

Dr. Joseph Murray, chief plastic surgeon at Children's Hospital Boston from 1972 to 1985 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1990 for his research on immunosuppression, specifically his "discoveries concerning organ and cell transplantation in the treatment of human disease".[49]

Lasker Awards

Dr. William Lennox received the Lasker Award[50] in 1951 for his work researching epilepsy.[51] Dr. Lennox organized the American Epilepsy League and the Committee for Public Understanding of Epilepsy.

Dr. Robert Gross received the Lasker Award in 1954 for performing the first operation for patent ductus arteriosus, a congenital heart defect, in 1938.[52] He received an additional Lasker in 1959 for being the first surgeon to graft artery tissue from one person to another in 1958.[53]

Dr. John Enders was awarded the Lasker in 1954, the same year he was awarded the Nobel Prize, for "achievement in the cultivation of the viruses poliomyelitis, mumps, and measles".[51]

Dr. Sidney Farber received the Lasker in 1966 for his 1947 discovery that a combination of aminopterin and methotrexate, both folic acid antagonists, could produce remission in patients with acute leukemia, and for "his constant leadership in the search for chemical agents against cancer".[54]

Dr. Porter W. Anderson, Jr. received the Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award with Dr. David H. Smith in 1996 for groundbreaking work in the development and commercialization of the Hemophilus influenza type B vaccine.[55]


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