Groundbreaking research creates the foundation on which the Children Hospital Medical Center’s nationally acclaimed pediatric care is built.

U.S. News and World Report recently rated Children’s as the nation’s third best pediatric hospital, the highest ranking ever for the hospital. Not so publicized is the fact that Children’s is now one of the largest biomedical research facilities in the U.S. With last year’s opening of the facility dubbed “Location S,” Children’s now has more than 1 million square feet of space devoted to scientific exploration.

Today’s investigators searchers follow in the footsteps of Children’s pioneers such as Albert Sabin, who created the oral polio vaccine almost 50 years ago.

Today, Dr. Jeffery D. Molkentin is one of hundreds of Children’s researchers striving to make their own breakthrough impact for the children of the future.

His science zeroes in on the molecular events that affect heart disease and muscular dystrophy. He and his research team focus their combative efforts on understanding how to spot the earliest stages of the diseases, giving them a head start on finding a cure.

Molkentin’s abilities and potential were rewarded recently when he was named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator — one of only 56 researchers to be selected last year from a field of 1,070 candidates. HHMI provides chosen researchers long-term funding, which enables them to be more creative and explorative without the pressures of producing short-term outcomes. HHMI has granted more than $9 billion over the past 20 years to promising scientists.

The HHMI support is timely for Molkentin because of a new breakthrough in his research. This spring, in an article published inNature Medicine, he revealed that an experimental European drug for Hepatitis C shows promise in repairing muscle cell damage in patients with muscular dystrophy.

He sees the HHMI funding as a springboard to reach higher. “HHMI encourages innovative research,” he notes. “This award is typically given to individuals from institutions that have strong and pioneering programs.”