CARE Research Project: Philip A. Keelty Center for Spina Bifida and Related Conditions

Title of Research Program: Philip A. Keelty Center for Spina Bifida and Related Conditions

Name of Principal Investigator: Eric Levey, M.D.

Brief Description of Summary Program and Research Goals and Objectives:

The Philip A. Keelty Center for Spina Bifida and Related Conditions provides multidisciplinary care for children and adults affected by spina bifida and other congenital spinal cord and brain anomalies. Part of clinical care includes exploring opportunities for improved medical management. In addition to standard care, the Keelty Center for Spina Bifida has a number of Institutional Review Board approved clinical research projects involving children and adults with spina bifida.

There are currently two active research projects related to latex allergy (natural rubber latex allergy). Individuals with spina bifida have a higher rate of development of latex allergy than the general population. The general consensus is that the high rate of latex allergy seen in individuals with spina bifida is because of increased exposure due to multiple surgeries and catheterization or bowel management with latex containing products. It became commonplace to recommend latex precautions (avoidance of exposure to latex) in the early to mid-1990s. It is also speculated that some children with spina bifida have a genetic predisposition to developing latex allergy. One project looks at the impact of latex precautions on development of latex sensitivity and is open to children with spina bifida from 0 to 18 years of age. A second project looks at genetic factors that may predispose individuals to developing latex allergy and is open to individuals with spina bifida of any age. Evaluation for latex allergy is done by serological (blood) testing as part of both studies.

The Keelty Center for Spina Bifida is also conducting several studies in collaboration with researchers in the Department of Urology at the Johns Hopkins University. One study examines sexuality and sexual function in individuals with spina bifida and is open to men and women 18 years and over with spina bifida. Individuals with spina bifida have an increased risk of developing bladder stones. Another active study aims to better understand the risk factors for bladder stone formation.

Our largest project is a clinical trial of usual care + behavioral intervention versus usual care in management of bowel and bladder continence among children with spina bifida. This is a CDC funded study and includes investigators from Pediatrics, Urology, Behavioral Psychology, Neuropsychology, and Nursing.

Scope of Duties for Research Student:

There are multiple opportunities for students to work on one of the Keelty Center's clinical research projects. To discuss these opportunities, individuals may contact the center at 443-923-9130 or email to SpinaBifidaCenter@KennedyKrieger.org.

Level of Student Education and Major/Discipline Desired:

Sophomore level undergraduates or higher, or graduate students with interest in clinical research and developmental disabilities.