In 2007, the Richard King Mellon Foundation made a generous financial contribution to create the Richard King Mellon Institute for Pediatric Research (RKMI), some of which was spent constructing the Rangos Research Center. Since that time, additional financial support was obtained from a generous gift from the Tull Family Foundation to support pediatric research initiatives within the RKMI.

The RKMI began as a small group of investigators (termed “Mellon Scholars”) housed in the Rangos Research Center and functioned as a small, independent division within the Department of Pediatrics. In 2018, the RKMI expanded its mission with the objective to support talented scientists in the early stages of their careers performing cutting-edge pediatric research.

The overarching goal of the RKMI is to become the cornerstone of basic and clinical research within UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, encompassing a wide reach to facilitate synergy, communication, and mentorship across all research disciplines under the UPMC Children's umbrella, regardless of department or division. We believe that the diversity surrounding the professional experiences and scientific interests of the Mellon Scholars will accelerate collaboration across divisions and departments at UPMC Children's for the continual pursuit of excellence in pediatric healthcare.

Current Mellon Scholars:

Taylor Abel, MD – Brain surgery for epilepsy

Sameer “Sam” Agnihotri, PhD – Personalized treatment for brain cancer

Rannar Airik, PhD – New strategies to treat kidney failure

Kelly M. Baily, MD, PhD – The Ewing sarcoma microenvironment and immune responses to pediatric sarcomas

Corina O. Bondi, PhD – Therapeutic strategies after experimental traumatic brain injury

Thiago Bruder do Nascimento, MSc, PhD – Vascular biology and metabolic diseases 

Brian Campfield, MD – Fending off foreign attacks on the lung

Joseph Thomas Church, MD – Prenatal therapies for congenital diaphragmatic hernia

Will DePas, PhD – Biogeography of bacterial infections

Catherine Forster, MD – Urobiome in UTIs

Lina Ghaloul Gonzalez, MD – Plain people (Amish/Mennonites) translational medicine

Tom Hooven, MD – Mechanisms and prevention of perinatal infections

Baoli Hu, PhD – Brain tumor cell behavior

Melissa Kane, PhD – Viruses and the immune system

Dwi U. Kemaladewi, PhD – Interventional genomics in rare diseases

Gary Kohanbash, PhD – Brain tumor vaccines 

Marcus Malek, MD – Precision-guided surgery to find cancers

Anita McElroy, MD, PhD – Virus effects throughout the body 

Amanda Poholek, PhD – Transcriptional and Epigenetic Regulation of Immune Cell Function

Franziska Rosser, MD, MPH, FAAP – Epidemiological effects of outdoor air pollution on children with asthma

Anita Pradeep Saraf, MD, PhD – Developing a better understanding the role of genetic mutations, chronic inflammation and mechanical strain on cardiomyocytes

Laurie Silva, PhD – Viral and host determinants of virus replication and pathogenesis 

Amery Treble-Barna, PhD – Neurologic function after brain injury

Xiangwei Xiao, MD, PhD – Insulin cell function and preservation

Visit the Richard King Mellon Foundation Institute for Pediatric Research at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh »