Two medical organizations in Westchester have formed a partnership they say could offer hope to children with neurological diseases.
White Plains-based Winifred Masterson Burke Medical Research Institute and Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla are getting together to pool their knowledge and resources.
The scientific and clinical research collaboration aims to take BMRI’s advances in basic neuroscience and turn them into new and improved treatments for children affected by strokes, traumatic brain injuries, cerebral palsy, and other conditions.
The arrangement is “a marriage made in heaven,” said David Pedowitz, chairman of Blythedale’s board of trustees.
“With BMRI’s expertise in brain repair, and Blythedale’s expertise in the care of medically fragile children, we are poised to make great advances in science and clinical care,” he added.
Blythedale said it is the first such first partnership between a research institute and a children’s specialty hospital.
According to the Child Neurology Foundation, one in six children has a neurological condition that limits functions such as movement, vision, and cognition.
Few treatments are available at present, Blythedale said.
Jason Carmel, a pediatric neurologist and neuroscientist, will direct the collaboration.
Carmel’s area of expertise is in electrical brain stimulation to improve movement.
He is also the director of the Motor Recovery Laboratory at BMRI and an assistant professor at Cornell University. He founded a clinic for children with brain injuries at Blythedale in 2013 and, since then has instituted a similar collaboration between BMRI and Cornell.
BMRI’s executive director, Rajiv Ratan, said the joint effort has “tremendous potential” to come up with “innovative therapies” for patients.
Blythedale’s young patients “make gains every day” because of the hospital’s “superb” clinical staff, but gaining access to BMRI’s “cutting-edge research” is critical to its being able to offer “the next generation of therapies to children with neurological disabilities,” said Blythedale president and CEO Larry Levine.
BMRI, founded in 1978, says it is among the world’s largest free-standing research institutes devoted to nervous system repair.
It employs more than 100 researchers in 18 laboratories and has more than 20,000 feet of recently renovated laboratory space.
BMRI shares a campus and a mission with the Burke Rehabilitation Hospital, an adult rehabilitation hospital that treats patients with stroke, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, and Alzheimer’s disease, among other neurological and non-neurological conditions.
It is an academic affiliate of Weill Cornell Medicine, the medical school of Cornell University, located in Manhattan.
Blythedale is the state’s only independent, specialty children’s hospital and one of only 19 pediatric specialty hospitals in the entire country.
It treats newborns through 19-year-olds and offers support to their families.
Blythdale’s young charges are admitted for a variety of medical conditions, including respiratory, traumatic brain injuries, pulmonary hypertension, need for high-tech feeding, complicated injuries, cancer rehabilitation, spinal cord disorders, and genetic/neuromuscular disorders.
The hospital has an 86-bed inpatient unit, a 24-bed long-term care pavilion, and a day program.