Treating the first patient in a historic spina bifida trial

Diana Farmer, our Children’s Hospital surgeon-in-chief and chair of UC Davis Health’s Department of Surgery, in collaboration with stem cell scientist Aijun Wang, developed and launched the world’s first human clinical trial using stem cells to treat spina bifida before birth. In September 2021, the first baby was delivered at UC Davis after becoming the first to receive the one-of-a-kind fetal treatment as part of the CuRe Trial (Cellular Therapy for In Utero Repair of Myelomeningocele). The team anticipates seeing improvements for those born with the most severe form of spina bifida, myelomeningocele, with the ultimate hope of helping them boost motor function and walk independently.

Level I Children’s Surgery Center

UC Davis Children’s Hospital is verified as a level I Children’s Surgery Center by the American College of Surgeons (ACS), the world standard bearer for surgical quality. Level I centers have children’s surgeons in every discipline, with pediatric anesthesiologists and dedicated operating rooms for children available 24 hours a day. They also train future leaders in education and research and participate in community outreach.

Farmer president-elect of American Surgical Association

Diana Farmer is the new president-elect of the American Surgical Association (ASA) for the 2021–22 year. Farmer is the first surgical leader from the UC Davis School of Medicine and the first woman from UC Health to be named to the position, and only the third woman elected to the position in the association’s 141-year history. Farmer is a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.

SpokeIt improves speech for children

Travis Tollefson, director of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery at UC Davis Cleft and Craniofacial Clinic, and UC Davis senior speech-language pathologist Christina Roth have partnered with UC Santa Cruz researchers for more than seven years to provide expert feedback and testing of SpokeIt, a UC Santa Cruz developed kid-friendly video game designed to improve speech for children with cleft palates. The innovative technology has shown positive results and continues to be a resource for families who don’t have access to speech therapy.

New Fetal Care and Treatment Center for complex pregnancies

In 2021, we opened a newly consolidated Fetal Care and Treatment Center within UC Davis Children’s Hospital that performs comprehensive diagnostic, medical and surgical interventions for pregnant women. Our clinical team offers specialized services, before, during and after birth, that include specialized prenatal co-management and delivery planning services; fetal echocardiography; fetal MRI; and clinical trials, including CuRe — Cellular Therapy for In Utero Repair of Myelomeningocele (spina bifida) using stem cells, the first of its kind in the U.S.