Leaders of the University of Maryland Children's Hospital and the R Baby Foundation, Inc. dedicated a new laboratory in August to develop rapid tests for diagnosing viral infectious diseases in infants. The laboratory was created with $110,000 in funding from the R Baby Foundation, established by Andrew and Phyllis Rabinowitz of New Jersey. The couple’s nine-day-old daughter, Rebecca, died in New Jersey in July 2006 from a misdiagnosed viral infection. The 400-square-foot lab, which is located in the School of Medicine’s Health Sciences Facility II building, will be named the Rebecca Rabinowitz Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory.
“Having grown up in the Baltimore area, I am thrilled with the partnership between the University of Maryland Children's Hospital and the R Baby Foundation,” said Phyllis Rabinowitz. “I feel confident that the new Rebecca Rabinowitz Laboratory will enable physicians to detect infant infections more rapidly and that we will help many families avoid the tragedy that Andrew and I endured. Together, we will save the lives of countless babies.”
Andrew and Phyllis Rabinowitz established the R Baby Foundation after the death of their daughter to promote research on viral and other infections in newborns and to raise money for treatment, training and life-saving equipment.
“Our society’s remarkable record of success in the fight against infectious diseases is well known,” says James Nataro, M.D., P.h.D., head of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at the Children's Hospital and a professor of pediatrics at the School of Medicine. “Still, many babies die each year from infections. Although we can diagnose and treat most of these infections, it can be extremely difficult for even the most experienced doctors to identify the cause early enough to initiate effective treatment. Physicians need a system to rapidly identify the many microorganisms that cause serious infections in infants,” says Dr. Nataro, who is leading the development of the lab.
“The R Baby Foundation’s donation is an incredibly valuable gift, not only for Baltimore but for the entire state,” says Steven Czinn, M.D., head of the Children's Hospital and professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the School of Medicine. “With this funding and the establishment of the laboratory, we will be able to educate the community at large about a risk that is unique to premature and young infants.”