Our research at the Mindich Child Health and Development Institute (MCHDI) is multidisciplinary, emphasizing the role of genetics and genomics in understanding the pathogenesis of diseases of infants, children, and adolescents and on developing novel therapeutic approaches. Our goal is to maximize the use of genetic information to improve the lives of children through the development of new therapies, the tailoring of existing drugs to maximize efficacy while minimizing adverse effects, and rationalizing population-level interventions related to environmental exposures.

We enable existing departments, institutes, and clinical research programs at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) to leverage resources and accelerate achievements, working with many departments and institutes across the Mount Sinai Health System.

Areas of Research Emphasis

We are dedicated to conducting and facilitating translational research with an emphasis on genomic and environmental studies to better understand the pathogenesis of prevalent pediatric conditions and diseases.  In addition, we are interested in exploring prevalent pediatric diseases that exhibit complex genetic patterns, such as neurodevelopmental disorders and certain birth defects, as well as the interface between children’s genetic makeup and their environment, especially as it correlates to conditions such as asthma/allergy, obesity, and developmental outcomes.

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) has two strong research programs, the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute and the Department of Preventative Medicine, that are investigating the immunobiology and environmental triggers of food allergies and pediatric asthma, as well as developing novel therapeutic approaches for them. Our goal is to broaden the scope of translational research inquiry to elucidate the genetic underpinnings of other childhood allergic conditions and pharmacologic responsiveness.

Our goal is to apply genetic information to improve outcomes for children born with congenital heart disease (CHD) and, ultimately, to prevent the disease. Among all birth defects, those affecting the heart remain the leading cause of infant mortality. While remarkable advances in cardiac surgery for infants and children have improved early morbidity, the advent of molecular medicine promises more significant advancements in the area of congenital heart disease. The Icahn School of Medicine has been at the forefront of the heart gene discovery process, primarily through the Center for Molecular Cardiology, led by MCHDI Director Bruce Gelb, MD, which is devoted to accelerating this research. Through these efforts we have identified disease genes for Char and Noonan syndromes and the Center is participating in the NHLBI-funded effort to accelerate gene discovery for CHD

Working closely with the Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment and the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Center we are broadening our investigative scope of neurodevelopmental disorders to elucidate their genetic causes and then understand their disease mechanisms. Autism, attention deficit disorder, dyslexia, and mental retardation affect 10 to 15 percent of our nation’s children. Increasingly, we are pinpointing genetic causes for these phenomena, particularly larger scale genomic events resulting in losses or gains of thousands or even millions of DNA base pairs. Studies have also shown that we can treat some genetically induced deficits. This is the premise of our work.

We are working with the Department of Preventive Medicine and the Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism Institute to develop better preventive and treatment strategies for childhood obesity and diabetes.

The American epidemic of obesity is not limited to adults. Obesity among kids ages 6 to 11 has tripled in the past 30 years (from 6.5 percent in 1980 to 19.6 percent in 2008) and 41 percent of those entering kindergarten in New York City are overweight, which has led to a second-wave epidemic of diabetes in children of the type formerly seen only in adults. This second-wave epidemic creates grave concerns about long-term consequences like arteriosclerosis.

Our growing group of experts from the ISMMS Department of Psychiatry are performing advanced genetic, epidemiologic, and neuroimaging studies of eating disorders and neuropsychiatric disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, tics and Tourette’s disorder and the link to comorbid disorders including attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. We are also exploring topics including pediatric liver and kidney disease, cancer, stem cell biology, and inflammatory bowel syndrome. Our mandate in child health research expanded in 2014. Most of the faculty who came on board at that time were internal, and had established research programs. To further enhance this initiative, we have recruited new faculty, whose areas of expertise often have a scientific overlap with one or more of the existing areas of interest. Our diverse team works across multiple disciplines using innovative approaches to discover new breakthroughs and effective therapies for a range of child health diseases.

We also use statistical methods to analyze environmental exposures, employ zebrafish models, and conduct child health research in such areas as eating disorders, hepatic disorders, and the immunology of inflammatory bowel diseases.

Partners and Affiliates

Throughout our research endeavors, we collaborate with a number of different partners and affiliates. 

Building upon the Mount Sinai Health System’s expertise in human genetics and environmental medicine, The Mindich Child Health and Development Institute (MCHDI) promotes multidisciplinary collaborations to advance translational research in pediatric medicine. Working with our partners, MCHDI’s team of physician-scientists and scientists upholds the Mount Sinai Health System’s bench to bedside mission by exploring the pathogenesis of prevalent pediatric conditions and diseases.

We support research in various disciplines including Asthma and Allergy, Cardiovascular Disease, Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Obesity and Diabetes, and other Childhood Diseases. Investigators from multiple departments, institutes, and centers across the Health System partner with MCHDI to further our commitment to excellence in innovative translational research.

We collaborate extensively with the Departments of Pediatrics, Genetics and Genomics Sciences, Preventative Medicine, Psychiatry, Developmental and Regenerative Biology, as well as other hospitals and organizations nationwide. 

We also coordinate research efforts with other translational institutes across the Health System, including the Institute for Genomics and Multiscale BiologyCharles R. Bronfman Institute for Personalized Medicine, Black Family Stem Cell Institute, the Friedman Brain Institute, as well as the Immunology Institute and the Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism Institute.

We partner with key clinical and research centers as well: the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute, the Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment, the Children's Heart Center, the Hall Family Center for Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes, and the Adolescent Health Center.