Ericka Fink, MD, MS Awarded an INCLINE Grant from the Neurocritical Care Society

Pediatric critical care investigator Ericka Fink, MD, MS has been awarded an INCLINE grant from the Neurocritical Care Society to support the pediatrics arm of the Global Consortium Study of Neurological Dysfunction in COVID-19 (GCS NeuroCOVID).

The University of Pittsburgh is the central coordinating site for both the adult and pediatric arms of the international consortium, which has recruited more than have 120 adult and 100 pediatrics study sites in more than 26 countries. The GCS NeuroCOVID pediatrics arm is studying the neurological manifestations and post-hospital outcomes in children with COVID-19 and/or the associated Multisystem Inflammatory disease in Children (MIS-C).

“In adults with COVID-19, we know that a third or more suffer from neurological complications that may persist upon hospital discharge as adverse cognitive and emotional health outcomes,” explained Ericka Fink, who is an associate professor of Critical Care Medicine and Pediatrics and associate director of the Safar Center for Resuscitation Research. “But for children, we lack the equivalent of the adult systematic, prospective studies on neurological manifestations and post-hospital outcomes.” She added that racial and geographic health disparities in COVID-19 and MIS-C disease make it imperative to understand neurological manifestations and outcomes for children on an international level. 

“Ericka’s award gives us an INCLINE grant for two years in a row. Sherry Chou received the same grant last year. That’s an amazing feat.” said Lori Shutter, MD, who is professor of Critical Care Medicine, Neurology and Neurosurgery. “Pitt now has a cadre of impressive neuro critical care researchers who are building an international reputation.”

Dr. Chou is the principal investigator of the adult arm of the GCS NeuroCOVID consortium, making Pitt the central coordinating site for both arms of the consortium.

Dr. Fink will test the hypothesis that children with neurological manifestations of COVID-19 and/or MIS-C are at greater risk for adverse neurological outcomes at hospital discharge and/or after discharge. The goal is to advance knowledge about the scope and severity of these neurological symptoms and events and to analyze patient- and family-centered functional outcomes, symptoms, and quality of life after discharge. Long term, Dr. Fink and her partners will use the results to investigate detailed pediatric brain imaging, electrophysiologic and neuropsychological testing and tissue biomarkers to gain mechanistic insights into treatment opportunities. 

Pamela Rubin, RN and David Maloney are the study coordinators for the pediatrics arm of the GCS-NeuroCOVID Consortium as well as for the multicenter POCCA study.

Dr. Fink’s two co-PIs for the Consortium are Michelle Schober, MD at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah and Courtney Robertson, MD at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, Baltimore, Maryland.

The one-year INCLINE grant—INvesting in CLINical Neurocritical CarE Research—from the Neurocritical Care Society is for members in all career stages to foster promising and innovative, collaborative, multi-center research aimed towards improving clinical outcomes in neuroscience critical care through clinical or translational research strategies.