Research Horizons


Science Watchers Hail Discoveries From Experts at Cincinnati Children’s

Three studies authored or co-authored by scientists at Cincinnati Children’s have been ranked among the top discoveries of 2019 by noted science journals, tracking services and communicators.

These studies and several others involving Cincinnati Children’s investigators have been widely shared among scientists, the news media and others who focus on child health.

Mitochondrial DNA Finding Surprises Many

Nature, which publishes several highly respected academic journals, recently posted a list of “10 Remarkable Papers from 2019.” That list includes a study published in PNAS, led by Shiyu Luo, PhD, and Taosheng Huang, MD, PhD, Division of Human Genetics at Cincinnati Children’s.

This study rocked the science world by providing powerful evidence that, in rare cases, fathers can pass mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) to their children. Until this finding, all mtDNA was thought to be passed along solely by mothers.

Read the Nature storyMitochondrial DNA can be inherited from fathers, not just mothers

Huang’s paternal mitochondrial DNA paper also was ranked No. 69 among the 100 most-shared discoveries of 2019, as tracked by Altmetric, which culled its list from 2.7 million research outputs published in the past year.

Huang’s paper received an Altmetric score of 2645. This score reflects 61 news stories, 4,100 tweets reaching nearly 7 million followers, plus mentions detected in blogs, Facebook, online videos and other sources.

Another highly-shared study, published in The Lancet, was ranked No. 92 with an Altmetric score of 2390. Jessica Kahn, MD, MPH, Division of Adolescent and Transition Medicine, was a member of the HPV Vaccination Impact Study Group that provided data and supplementary analyses for the project.

Cardiac Stem Cell Study Challenges Dogma

In addition to these kudos, the medical social media influencer Eric Topol, MD, (182,000+ followers on Twitter) listed two Cincinnati Children’s papers among his top choices for 2019:

One of Topol’s choices was Huang’s paternal mitochondrial DNA paper. The other was a finding recently published by Jeffery Molkentin, PhD, Executive Co-Director at our Heart Institute.

In 2014, Molkentin raised questions about the validity of experiments using cardiac stem cell injections to help people grow new heart muscle after surviving heart attacks. The stem cells failed to generate new heart muscle. He followed up that work with a study published Nov. 27, 2019, in Nature that further explains what occurs.

Molkentin’s new study reports that instead of prompting new muscle cell growth, cardiac stem cells—be they dead or alive—prompt an immune response that produces a more optimized scar and improved contractile properties.

Rethinking Antibiotic Usage Levels Continues

Cincinnati Children’s expertise also was reflected in a “Best of 2019” list from the journal Pediatrics.

The list includes a study published in September 2019 that demonstrated the effectiveness of short-term antibiotic courses for treating infant urinary tract infections. The study was co-authored by Samir Shah, MD, Director of our Division of Hospital Medicine. The findings reflect another step in ongoing efforts to reduce antibiotic overuse.

More highly-shared studies from 2019 that involved Cincinnati Children’s scientists
Associations Between Screen-Based Media Use and Brain White Matter Integrity in
Article in JAMA Pediatrics, November 2019.
First author John Hutton, MS, MD; senior author Scott Holland, PhD
Maternal and fetal genetic effects on birth weight and their relevance to
Article in Nature Genetics, May 2019
Contributing authors Ge Zhang, MD, PhD, and Louis Muglia, MD, PhD


Modelling human hepato-biliary-pancreatic organogenesis from the foregut–midgut
Article in Nature, September 2019
Corresponding author Takanori Takebe, MD


In utero gene editing for monogenic lung disease
Article in Science Translational Medicine, April 2019
Co-author William Zacharias, MD, PhD


Hydroxyurea for Children with Sickle Cell Anemia in Sub-Saharan Africa
Article in New England Journal of Medicine, January 2019
Senior author Russell Ware, MD, PhD; Co-authors Adam Lane, PhD, Susan Stuber, MA, Teresa Latham, MA, and Patrick McGann, MD


Human Papillomavirus Vaccine Effectiveness and Herd Protection in Young Women
Article in Pediatrics, January 2019
Senior author Jessica Kahn; Co-authors Courtney Covert, BA, Lili Ding, PhD, David I. Bernstein, MD, MA
Evidence of a clinically significant drug‐drug interaction between cannabidiol
Article in American Journal of Transplantation, May 2019
Co-authors: Chie Emoto, PhD,  Tsuyoshi Fukuda, PhD, and Alexander Vinks, PharmD, PhD
—Article written by Tim Bonfield