Research Horizons


Cincinnati Children’s Hosts Discovery Day for Community and Families

children and community members exploring the research facilities at Cincinnati Children's

Cincinnati Children’s and the eMERGE Research Team hosted a Discovery Day for local youth and their families, offering a day of science and exploration.

The research team is part of a network of a group of research studies across the United States, the electronic MEdical Records and GEnomics Consortium (eMERGE). Together they study genetics and help doctors treat and prevent some common conditions. Cincinnati Children’s has had an eMERGE team since 2011, and since 2021 it has been led by Cindy Prows, MSN, APRN, a genetics clinical nurse specialist, and Leah Kottyan, PhD, an Allergy and Immunology researcher in the Center for Autoimmune Genomics and Etiology (CAGE).

Our eMERGE research team works with nine other sites to enroll 25,000 adults and children to study how to best share genetic data with physicians and patients in a primary care setting. According to Kottyan, a large part of the task includes improving trust and research participation.

Events like Discovery Day help to build that trust with the community and families as well as further our two-fold research goals: to accelerate the pace of discovery and to foster a collaborative culture of discovery.

More than 30 participants, including high school students and parents, had the opportunity to attend a lunch-and-learn session followed by a tour of Cincinnati Children’s research laboratories. During the tour, they were able to witness firsthand how research is conducted. Participants engaged in demonstration projects where they filled test tubes, looked at cells through microscopes, and observed liquids changing colors.

One of the highlights of the day was the visit to the Discover Together Biobank, a secure storage facility where samples such as blood, saliva, and tissues are stored and used in research aimed at advancing treatments and cures. Throughout the day, participants asked questions about lab equipment and experiments, careers in science and robotics, and Cincinnati Children’s future research plans.

“If you see it, you can be it,” Kottyan said. “When young people see research in action, they can imagine being a researcher. I truly think that we inspired several children to become scientists on Discovery Day. It was very special. Seeing research in action also increases the desire of community members to want to co-produce research and discoveries with researchers.”

Half of the attendees had previously participated in a research study, while 90% expressed their willingness to participate in future research studies. More than 95% of the participants reported having a better understanding of research after attending Discovery Day. Additionally, over 81% of the attendees reported that their trust in research had improved due to the event, and 95% of them would recommend it to their friends.

Some of the most enjoyable aspects of the day, as reported by the participants, were seeing cells in a microscope, participating in the experiments, seeing liquid nitrogen at the biobank, and speaking with research staff.

Discovery Day was created to promote diversity and inclusion in research, as Cincinnati Children’s believes that being a leader in innovation, science, and discovery means ensuring equal opportunities for all. Additionally, it introduces young people to the culture of science, discovery, and role models in the field, which might inspire them to pursue careers in healthcare or research.

“By organizing an event like Discovery Day, the eMERGE team and Cincinnati Children’s aim to inspire the next generation of scientific researchers and healthcare professionals,” said Monica Mitchell, PhD, MBA, senior director of Community Relations. “This was a unique opportunity to interact with renowned experts and possibly ignite a spark of inspiration that could lead to future careers in science and medicine. This initiative perfectly exemplifies Cincinnati Children’s commitment to fostering a culture of learning, innovation, and community engagement.”

View more photos of the event here.