March 22, 2023

PIDS Foundation News: Sophie Katz (Recipient)

Dr. Sophie Katz

Sophie Katz, MD, MPH, is Assistant Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She is the Associate Director of Pediatric Antimicrobial Stewardship and leads the Pediatric Outpatient Stewardship Program and is also the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Fellowship Program Director.

Dr. Katz attended medical school at Louisiana State University and completed her Pediatric Residency and Chief Residency at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, PA, along with a fellowship in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Her research interests have focused on pediatric antimicrobial stewardship and have spanned from the role of biomarkers for assisting antibiotic stewardship in the inpatient setting, to identification and implementation of outpatient antibiotic stewardship interventions. 

She heard about the PIDS Foundation Antimicrobial Stewardship Fellowship Award through several mediums: PIDS emails, word of mouth from mentors and service on the PIDS Pediatric Committee on Antimicrobial Stewardship. The research she proposed and conducted investigated the impact of procalcitonin on antibiotic use in the pediatric ICU. Patients were randomized to either have procalcitonin levels drawn or receive routine care without checking procalcitonin levels. The research evaluated whether providers would stop antibiotics sooner than they normally would in patients with low procalcitonin levels. The results were less exciting than hoped, likely due to enrolling sicker patients than had been planned, so providers were more hesitant to stop providing antibiotics than they might have otherwise been. There was a trend towards less antibiotic use in the procalcitonin group, but the results were not statistically significant.

The grant application included a brief research plan and a personal statement that wasn’t too difficult “because I’m so passionate about stewardship.” Though she has since pivoted to focus more on the outpatient world of antibiotic stewardship, the research helped her better understand biomarkers of infection and to promote diagnostic stewardship for procalcitonin and other biomarkers. The research did get published and contributed to her participation as an author on the soon-to-be published procalcitonin guidance document for lab techs and clinicians by the American Associate of Clinical Chemistry.  

The Antimicrobial Stewardship Fellowship Award provides funding for travel to the Annual International Pediatric Antimicrobial Stewardship Conference to present the research. Another benefit of the award is the connection to a community of national mentors in stewardship. Dr. Katz identified the ability to make those contacts through the award as the best parts of the experience. Her national mentor, Jeff  Gerber has continued to be a wonderful resource even after the award period ended.

Dr. Katz advises any fellow in position to apply to do it. “My local mentor, Ritu Banerjee, always says the only way you won’t get it is if you don’t try, so definitely try. You’ll have a great experience and I do think [the award] has helped to shape my career in a positive way.”

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