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Dr. Aaron Reitman

Rare research is a part of our residency program.


Dr. Aaron Reitman, a pediatric resident at the University of California, San Francisco-Fresno (UCSF) program at Children’s Hospital Central California, won the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) annual “Best Abstract for Physician in Training Award.” His research focused on procalcitonin as a biomarker for bacteremia in pediatric patients with a fever and abnormally low white blood cell count.

Dr. ReitmanChildren’s Hospital is only one of two children’s hospitals nationwide actively conducting pediatric research on the topic. Results of
Dr. Reitman’s study with about 400 pediatric oncology and Emergency Department (ED) patients at Children’s in 2009 showed that procalcitonin is an effective tool to quickly distinguish whether a patient has a serious, and sometimes life-threatening, bacterial infection. Results also indicate that procalcitonin is superior to the standard C Reactive Protein (CRP) test in predicting the absence of bacteremia. 
The 20-minute test may provide physicians a more effective method to determine if a patient should be admitted to the hospital or qualify for early discharge, as well as the level of antibiotics to administer to the child.

“I’ve had amazing support from Children’s Hospital,” said Dr. Reitman, who plans to specialize in pediatric oncology. “You can have a great idea but you need help to get you the rest of the way.”

Dr. Robert Dimand, chief of pediatrics, UCSF-Fresno, at Children’s and a pediatric intensivist at Children’s, commended Dr. Reitman for his efforts: “It’s wonderful to see Dr. Reitman participate in leading the charge to expand clinical research related to the superb patient care here at Children’s. The Central Valley has endless potential and opportunities for clinical research.”

Procalcitonin is a biological marker that is normal in healthy children. Elevated levels have been present in children with bacterial infections but not those with viral infections. Increased procalcitonin levels also have correlated with increased severity of the infection.

Little information exists on procalcitonin as a biomarker for bacterium in pediatric patients; Children’s and Children’s Hospital Boston are the only facilities nationwide actively researching the pediatric population. Dr. Reitman’s research results indicated that procalcitonin has a greater specificity and negative predictive value in ruling out bacteremia compared to the more common CRP test.

The ability to measure procalcitonin levels in the blood quickly is a new technology that received FDA approval in 2008. Children’s, The Children’s Hospital near Denver and Phoenix Children’s are the only pediatric hospitals west of the Mississippi with the capability.
The AAP recognized

Dr. Reitman for his procalcitonin research at its annual National Conference & Exhibition in Washington, D.C. He was one of 11 participants selected to give an oral presentation on their abstract during the section on critical care. “The award is a nice representation of the work itself and the resident who championed it,” said Dr. J. Daniel Ozeran, a Children’s oncologist.