Honoring the legacy of Dr. Hector R. Wong –
A pioneer in the field of pediatric critical care medicine.
Jennifer Kaplan, MD, MS, Andrew J. Lautz, MD, Mihir R. Atreya, MD, MPH
Division of Critical Care Medicine, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
In January 2022, the Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine and Cincinnati Children Hospital Medical Center mourned the unexpected death of Dr. Hector R. Wong – a mentor, colleague, and friend to many. Dr. Hector Wong was a consummate physician, scientist, educator, and administrator. He served as Chief of the Division for over 20 years before taking on roles as Interim-Chair and subsequently Vice-Chair of the Department of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati – the latter amidst the height of the COVID19 pandemic. Dr. Wong led a basic and translational science laboratory, supported by Kindervelt, focused on better understanding pediatric sepsis – a life threatening condition caused by an abnormal response of an individual to an infection. He espoused a “bedside -to bench- to bedside” approach to sepsis wherein observations made among children with sepsis were brought to the laboratory to better understand disease mechanisms. Further, findings in the disease models were tested in human biospecimens to ensure their relevance to patient care. The centerpiece of his NIH funded research program is an unparalleled repository of clinical data and biospecimens collected from children with sepsis across multiple pediatric institutions in the U.S, which continues to be leveraged by investigators within the Division to ask impactful questions.
On Friday September 8th, 2023, in recognition of Sepsis Awareness month and World Sepsis Day (September 13th), the Division of Critical Care Medicine, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital supported by the Cincinnati Children’s Research Foundation held a memorial symposium in honor of the late Dr. Hector R. Wong. Internationally recognized invited speakers, many of whose careers were in large parts shaped by Dr. Wong, presented latest advances in pediatric sepsis research and a roadmap to future work required in the field to meaningfully improve the care of our sickest patients. Keynote speakers –Dr. Thomas Shanley, President and CEO of Ann & Robert Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Northwestern University and Dr. Timothy Sweeney, Co-Founder and CEO of Inflammatix, Inc. highlighted the critical need translational physician-scientists in the field and collaborations necessary to advance endotyping strategies – wherein sepsis therapies are tailored based on the biology of patients, respectively. The symposium was attended by over 150 people with many joining virtually from around the world. A highlight of the symposium was Mr. Tyler Weismann – a sepsis survivor who was cared for by Dr. Wong and team as a child, shared his story and underscored the need for greater awareness of sepsis in the broader community. Of importance, there are an estimated 50 million cases of sepsis worldwide each year, and it is the leading cause of death among children under 5 years. Yet, sepsis care remains limited to antibiotics and intensive organ support, highlighting the crucial need for scientific advances in how we care for our sickest patients.