Christopher Horvat received NICHD K23 Grant & ABPM Clinical Informatics Certification

Assistant Professor of Critical Care Medicine, Christopher Horvat, MD, MHA, was awarded a K23 grant entitled, “A Learning Health System Approach to Precision Sedation and Analgesia in Critically Ill Children,” from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Dr. Horvat also recently achieved Board Certification in Clinical Informatics from the American Board of Preventive Medicine, effective February 4, 2020. With this credential, he joins an elite group of Intensivists with expertise to advance bioinformatics and artificial intelligence research in the Department of Critical Care Medicine.

“Chris’ success is a win-win for the Department as our clinical and research bioinformatics needs continue to grow,” said Bob Clark, MD, professor of Critical Care Medicine and Pediatrics and the vice chair for Pediatric Critical Care in the Department of Critical Care Medicine. “The ever-increasing volume and availability of digital patient information makes it imperative that we have physician-scientists like Chris with the bioinformatic skills to help us develop cutting edge technology to deliver better patient care.”

Dr. Horvat’s K23 study is exemplary of the in-silico approach to delivering the best and most effective care for critically ill children; in this instance, he addresses children who require sedation and analgesia regimens that can promote healing while avoiding harm.

“Conventional sedative-analgesic dose selection in the pediatric ICU is based on clinician experience and reaction to patient response. This approach often relies on heuristic decision making and results in children receiving doses that are either too high or too low nearly half the time these medications are administered,” explained Dr. Horvat. 

His study will use a combination of machine learning, a to-be-established biobank of blood samples, EHR-derived medication administration data, and pharmacokinetic models to address three specific aims:

  • Identify patterns of sedation and analgesia administration associated with outcomes among children with respiratory failure,
  • Identify patterns of sedation and analgesia administration associated with patient genotype among critically ill children with respiratory failure, and
  • Construct population pharmacokinetic models for common sedative-analgesic medications in critically ill children with respiratory failure. 

In addition to Dr. Clark, mentors for Dr. Horvat’s research include Philip Empey, PharmD, PhD in the School of Pharmacy and Jonathan Silverstein, MD, MS in the Department of Biomedical Informatics, as well as his K committee mentors: Tim Girard, MD, MSCI and Pat Kochanek, MD from the Department of Critical Care Medicine and Anthony Fabio, PhD, MPH in the School of Public Health.

Dr. Horvat is a pediatric intensivist at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, where he is also director of Health Informatics for Clinical Effectiveness, medical director of the Condition A/C Program, and the co-director of the Sepsis Performance Improvement Team. He holds a BS in Chemistry and MD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He undertook his residency in Pediatrics at the University of Washington Affiliated Hospitals followed by a move to Pittsburgh for his fellowship in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and a Master of Health Administration at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health.