The work and career profile of Dr. Michelle Batthish, an associate professor of pediatrics at McMaster University and a pediatric rheumatologist at McMaster Children’s Hospital, is featured in this month’s issue of Pediatric Research, the official publication of the American Pediatric Society.

Batthish's study investigating the incidence of Kawasaki disease in Ontario children was selected as the Editor's Focus for the September 2021 edition. As well as highlighting Batthish's research – which was published online in the journal earlier this year -- the coverage also includes a first-person profile outlining her academic journey, interest in Kawasaki disease, reflections on mentorship, and advice for emerging researchers.

Research challenge:

Researchers and physicians have known that there is a window to prevent coronary artery aneurysm in patients with Kawasaki disease. What's unknown – and what parents often ask – is whether there are any long-term effects on the heart and what this could mean regarding heart health once their children become adults. Batthish's research addresses these questions.

Key findings:

4,346 Ontario children were hospitalized for Kawasaki disease over 22 years and the incidence of this disease increased significantly for all age groups for both males and females. Older children (10-18 years), experienced longer hospital stays, more intensive care admissions, and more frequent coronary artery aneurysms. Nearly all children with Kawasaki disease had follow-up echocardiography within one year.

Michelle’s advice for a successful research career:

1) Take advantage of opportunities when they are offered, especially early in your career. You never know where they may lead.

2) Surround yourself with a team of experts, both within and outside of your speciality. Include non-physician researchers who have expertise in areas that you may not have.

3) Connect with patient advocacy groups. There are a lot of rewards that come from contributing to community groups (I have had a wonderful experience working with Kawasaki Disease Canada).

4) Involve patients and families at any and every stage of your research. We have a lot to learn from them!

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Since submitting the research for publication earlier this year, Batthish has received an Early Career Investigator Award from Pediatric Research . She credits her collaboration with Rahul Chanchlani, an associate professor of pediatrics at McMaster University and an adjunct scientist with the independent, non-profit research corporation ICES; and Cal Robinson, resident lead for Batthish's research project.

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