Dr. Virginia Pascual is on a mission to help sick kids. As the Drukier Director of the Gale and Ira Drukier Institute for Children’s Health at Weill Cornell Medicine—a premier, cross-disciplinary institute dedicated to understanding the underlying causes of diseases that affect children—that means fostering a passion for unconventional thinking. Kids are not little adults.
“My goal here at the Drukier Institute for Children’s Health is to create a research environment, both basic and patient-oriented,” Dr. Pascual said, “that will lead to discoveries, especially new treatments, to improve the lives of sick children.”
In one Drukier Institute research project, Dr. Pascual and her team investigated a disorder called systemic onset juvenile arthritis, which causes joint inflammation, rashes and other symptoms in young children and has no effective therapies. Through basic research, a collaboration with neighboring Hospital for Special Surgery and its chief of pediatric rheumatology, Dr. Karen Onel, and a pilot clinical trial using a drug that unsuccessfully treated the disease in adults, Dr. Pascual was able to improve the life of one little girl, 2-year-old Eva Chi.
“I am convinced,” Dr. Pascual said, “that the future is very bright.”