Because echocardiography is painless and harmless and provides detailed information of cardiac anatomy and physiology, it is not only the most valuable diagnostic modality in the field of clinical pediatric cardiology but it is also a powerful research tool. In 1994, leaders in the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Division of Cardiology realized that because of the importance of echocardiography as a research tool and the volume of research echocardiographic studies, it made practical sense to separate these efforts from the clinical laboratory. The dream to create an echocardiography laboratory for the sole purpose of conducting and supporting pediatric cardiology research was born. In order to fulfill this dream, however, the Division needed to find dedicated space, equipment, and personnel; all requiring a capital investment. The Division turned to the Children’s Heart Association of Cincinnati for funding.

An initial capital investment was made by the Children’s Heart Association, and ever since, the research echocardiography laboratory, now known as the Cardiovascular Imaging Core Research Laboratory, has increased in size, grant funding and importance. In 1994, the laboratory started with me as its director, one sonographer, one room and one ultrasound imaging system. At the time it was one of only a few research echocardiography laboratories in the world and the only one dedicated to pediatric research. Today, the laboratory has two directors, two associate directors, five sonographers, four imaging locations and five ultrasound imaging systems. The menu of services that the laboratory offers has increased markedly as well. Today, we offer not only echocardiography on human subjects but also imaging and study of the human arterial vasculature and micro-echocardiography in mice and mice embryos. The laboratory is not only a core facility for our own cardiologists and cardiology fellows but also investigators throughout the hospital. We currently are serving nearly 50 investigators. We are also a training site for visiting physicians wishing to establish a research echocardiography laboratory at their own institution. We also serve as a core laboratory for national multi-institutional studies. The laboratory has been responsible for over 200 publications and 35 grants. The laboratory has become a national role model for the performance and execution of pediatric echocardiography research.

I am personally indebted to the Children’s Heart Association of Cincinnati for their support and vision in helping us create the echocardiography research laboratory.   Because of the Association’s support, not only was I able to become productive from a research standpoint, but also dozens of young investigators were able to launch their research careers. More importantly, because of the Association, thousands of children have benefitted from the research that has been and continues to be conducted in the Cardiovascular Imaging Core Research Laboratory.

Thomas R. Kimball, MD
Medical Director, The Heart Institute, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Professor of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine

The National Pediatric Cardiology Quality Improvement Collaborative (NPC-QIC) is incredibly grateful for the generosity of the Children’s Heart Association of Cincinnati (CHAoC) in providing initial start-up funding and continued support. Because of the sponsorship of CHAoC , NPC-QIC has been transformational in the field of pediatric cardiology. The network has grown from 6 pilot sites to over 60 cardiology centers. And, most importantly, NPC-QIC has improved outcomes for infants with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) and their families. Across NPC-QIC, there has been a 46% reduction in interstage mortality and significant reductions in both growth failure and readmissions for serious medical events. NPC-QIC has allowed the collaborative to continue to improve outcomes for children with and their families.

What NPC-QIC has learned has impacted the care and outcomes of other children with congenital heart disease. NPC-QIC, with its partner parent organization Sisters by Heart, has become a model collaboration of families, clinicians and researchers working together to dramatically improve outcomes for children and families.

NPC-QIC has recently expanded its scope and begun working with pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons, pediatric critical care physicians, fetal cardiologists, and developmental pediatricians.

NPC-QIC thanks CHAoC for its tremendous support and generosity. Together, we are changing the outcome for children and families with congenital heart disease.

Carole Lannon, MD MPH
Senior Faculty Lead, Learning Networks Program, Anderson Center for Health Systems Excellence, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Professor of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
Senior Quality Advisor, American Board of Pediatrics