McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Research physician studies growth of littlest babies

By Suzanne Morrison
Published: January 25, 2010
Richard Losick
Christoph Fusch, a professor in the department of pediatrics of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine

Each year about eight per cent of babies born in Canada arrive too soon. Many need extra support, and those who survive face higher rates of learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, respiratory illness, developmental and behavioural problems.

Dr. Christoph Fusch, the inaugural holder of the Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation/ Jack Sinclair Chair in Neonatology, is working on research that will develop evidence-based strategies to improve both the short and long-term outcomes for premature infants and high-risk newborns.

Fusch is a professor in the department of pediatrics of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University and director of the neonatal intensive care unit at the McMaster Children's Hospital. The main question he is addressing in his research is how normal brain development and function can be achieved in very pre-term infants.

Adequate growth is a major issue during postnatal care but very little is known about the optimal growth trajectory for individual infants. Fusch’s research is focused on finding out the nutritional regimen for optimal postnatal growth for an infant’s brain and body as well as their lowest risk for metabolic or cardiovascular disease later in life.

A celebration was held today to herald the inaugural chair holder for the $2 million research chair in neonatology funded jointly by the Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation and McMaster University. It is named for Dr. Jack Sinclair, a professor emeritus of pediatrics of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, whose leadership led to standards of excellence in neonatal research and care that today are recognized and practiced around the world.

Dr. John Kelton, dean and vice-president of the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University, said the recruitment of Dr. Fusch from Germany was a coup.

"Dr. Fusch is a triple threat: he is an excellent teacher, a conscientious clinician and he is a world class researcher.  His focus fits particularly well into our research program on the perinatal environment."

Pearl Veenema, president and CEO of Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation said: "McMaster Children’s Hospital has one of the largest neonatal units in Canada, internationally renowned for its care, research and teaching.

"Our donors are proud to support the recruitment of the one of the best physician scientists in the world for our neonatal services."

Fusch obtained his medical degree at the University of Tuebingen, Germany with additional training in research and neonatology in Zurich and Berne, Switzerland.  After obtain his PhD, he became professor and chair of neonatology at the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University in Greifswald, Germany. Over 10 years, he transformed the unit into a modern perinatal centre with a strong clinical and research program.

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