A Future-Focused Leader Driven to Transform the Way We Approach Pediatric Care
In October 2017, when Marc Lalande, Ph.D., joined Shriners Children's as our vice president of research, he launched a transformation of the department. One of his first undertakings was to create an infrastructure that would allow staff throughout our healthcare system to access genetic sequencing resources that could help them develop more effective treatment plans for their patients.
With a background in medical biophysics and genetic research, Dr. Lalande is helping guide our research team into the future. Since joining Shriners Children's, he has expanded our research department to include some of its most ambitious projects to date, including the launch of the Genomics Institute. The newly defined research mission is to create tools and establish partnerships that better align Shriners Children's research programs with clinical areas of focus and strength and raise our international clinical research profile and reputation.
Advancing Our Research Mission Through Partnerships and Collaboration
One of Dr. Lalande’s overall goals is to enhance the collaboration between physicians and scientists, as well as advance our team’s research mission. He is doing this by forging partnerships with recognized leaders in genetics, including Genome Medical, Illumina Inc. and several other prestigious academic and industry organizations.
Dr. Lalande also aims to increase the number of multiple-site research efforts which engage several Shriners Children's locations in a single project. To do this, he has initiated several grant funding opportunities to enhance cross-system collaboration, including five research grants in the past two years for our 14 motion analysis centers to work on innovative projects together.
In another current project, Dr. Lalande's team is attempting to develop potential therapies for the rare but devastating disorder epidermolysis bullosa (EB) through gene and stem cell therapy.
“What I hope to see," Dr. Lalande says, "is Shriners Children’s-labeled research with an international impact that combines the efforts of researchers and clinicians.”
All Roads Lead to the Genome
Dr. Lalande earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in medical biophysics, both from the University of Toronto. He came to Shriners Children's from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, where he served as the HealthNet professor and chair, department of genetics and genome sciences, and director of the Stem Cell and Systems Genomics Institutes.
Previously, Dr. Lalande was an associate professor of pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School. While at Boston Children’s, he began his research career, studying the molecular genetics (the study of the molecular structure of DNA) and epigenetics (the study of how environmental and behavioral changes can affect our inherited genes) of rare diseases.
Dr. Lalande understands the role genetics can play in advancing how we care for our patients at Shriners Children's and how we improve care for children everywhere. Shriners Children’s is a leading provider of pediatric care, which means the volume of genetic samples, and the data from those samples, can help drive this research on a scale that isn’t possible in a smaller healthcare system.
“The creation of cloud-based clinical informatics infrastructure coupled with the genomics program is a driver of cutting-edge research projects driven by teams of our physicians and surgeons from different Shriners Children's sites. These multicenter initiatives can ultimately lead to new therapies,” says Dr. Lalande
For Dr. Lalande, the impact that this kind of access, and the potential it has to create exponential shifts in pediatric healthcare everywhere, is something that helps drives his enthusiasm for his job every day.
The Future of Pediatric Health Care
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