Article, Research and Innovation

Focusing on Child Health Research to Help Future Generations

November 14, 2022

Q&A with Dr. Ron Sokol, newly named Chief Scientific Officer, Child Health.

Dr. Sokol
Dr. Ron Sokol, Chief Scientific Officer, Child Health

Dr. Ron Sokol, the Bruce and Bev Wagner Family Endowed Chair for Child Health Research, will lead our child health research enterprise into the future. He has run a basic science laboratory for more than 35 years and led translational and clinical research related to pediatric gastroenterology and hepatology, publishing more than 280 articles and 125 book chapters or review articles.

Why is now the time to accelerate discovery in child health research?

With the advances in science, technology, data management and big data analytics, we now have a unique opportunity to find answers to questions about diseases that we could never answer before. We can uncover ways to prevent disease and improve the health of children and the adults they will become and create opportunities to collaborate with others on the Anschutz Medical Campus and around the nation like we’ve never been able to before. This is opening a new era for the application of discoveries to improve child health, including basic, clinical, translational and healthcare delivery research. Today, we can translate these discoveries into better care for children in all our communities and better prevention of disease across populations.

What do you see as the new frontier for pediatric healthcare?

There is a lot of potential with new therapies, including cell-based and regenerative therapies, gene therapies, and new drugs and devices. At Children’s Hospital Colorado, we are making big investments in child health. Thanks to generous donations in the fields of precision medicine and cancer research, we are taking our child health research enterprise to the next level. I hope to foster that momentum across all areas of the hospital while cultivating a rich collaboration with scientific peers and colleagues on our campus and across the country.

What is your biggest hope for kids as you take on this new role?

My hope is to cure or prevent childhood diseases and to prevent adult diseases in childhood. We know that many adult diseases have their precursors before birth or in the first few years of life. The challenge is, how can we predict and intervene early in pregnancy or childhood to prevent these chronic diseases that account for much of adult illness and mortality? Our focus on life course research will continue to advance the health of children and improve their lifelong well-being. I want every child to live the healthy, hopeful life they deserve. With donor support, we can pursue cutting-edge ideas and outside-the-box thinking that will translate into great advances. It is only through research that we can discover the cures, treatments and therapies of tomorrow, while saving lives today.