The annual International Children’s Advisory Network (iCAN) Summit took place June 24-28 in Kansas City, Mo. Representatives from the Pediatric Trials Network (PTN) were in attendance, along with global representatives from pharmaceutical and clinical research groups.
The mission of iCAN is to empower pediatric patients worldwide by providing children and families a voice in health, research, medicine, and innovation. “One of iCAN’s goals is to educate the world—especially our youth—about the importance of not only participating in clinical trials, but also of being actively involved in the process of designing pediatric clinical trials,” said Leanne West, president of iCAN and chief engineer of pediatric technologies at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Ga.
The summit included a number of sessions that explored pediatric clinical research and patient engagement from unique viewpoints. PTN Program Manager Phyllis Kennel and PTN Project Leader Cheryl Alderman both attended the summit. “Having the opportunity to watch youth and their parents learn and grow in their knowledge of clinical research and how they can impact outcomes was an amazing experience,” Kennel said. “The passion that they have to improve clinical care for children is inspiring and I believe our future is in great hands.”
Three Different Perspectives of a Case Study: Patient, Parent, and Provider
Hannah Nilsson was diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma, a rare and highly aggressive disease, when she was only 13 years old. After spending nearly 300 days in the hospital, and experiencing a reoccurrence after nine months, Hannah went on to graduate high school and college and is now a mother, wife, and full-time professional.
After Hannah’s experience, her mother, DeeJo Miller, devoted her life to helping families who enter the hospital system with their children. “I was hired by Children’s Mercy Kansas City as a ‘parent on staff’ in 2008 to collaborate with staff by serving as a voice of the families.”
Dr. Karen Lewing, director of medical informatics for hematology/oncology at Children’s Mercy, was also part of the session and shared her impression of the journey Hannah and DeeJo experienced.
This session shed light on the unique experiences patients, parents, and providers have while addressing a vital health need and how all parties can collaborate to ensure patients receive the best treatment.
The Role of the Institutional Review Board (IRB)
This session explored the purpose of an IRB and provided young attendees with an opportunity to review a study protocol to determine if the materials met the criteria for IRB approval. The activity gave session attendees an intimate look at and hands-on experience with the IRB process and how it ensures the rights and welfare of human subjects are protected.
Patient Engagement: The Power of Patients in Healthcare
Kelly Ranallo, founder and president of the Turner Syndrome Global Alliance (TSGA), became a parent advocate after her daughter was diagnosed with Turner Syndrome, a chromosomal condition that affects development in women and girls. As part of her commitment to helping other parents with children diagnosed with rare diseases, Kelly built RareKC, a non-profit organization established to accelerate the diagnosis, care and treatment of rare conditions through patient-driven collaboration and innovation.
This session highlighted the support available for parents who have children with rare diseases. It also incorporated a tour of Mercy Children’s centers for genomics and innovation, which work to implement groundbreaking ideas in the rare disease field.
iCAN and PTN Partnership
The Pediatric Trials Network (PTN) has established a partnership with iCAN in an effort to engage participants and their families in research conducted by PTN. As part of the partnership, iCAN will review the design of PTN trials as well as patient consent and recruitment materials to ensure they actively involve participants and their families and take their needs and concerns into consideration.
“Giving children and families an active role in the design of clinical studies that affect them is critical, not only for conducting the highest quality and most meaningful research, but also for making the experience as positive as possible for everyone involved,” said Dr. Danny Benjamin, principal investigator for the PTN. “If we can help make the experience better for children, we’ve achieved our goal.”