Program Faculty

Listed in alphabetical order

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Geraldine Boylan

Geraldine Boylan is Director of the INFANT Research Centre (www.infantcentre.ie) and Professor of Neonatal Physiology in the Department of Paediatrics & Child Health, University College Cork, Ireland.

She has a career-long track record in clinical neurophysiology and since 1996 she has worked exclusively in the field of neonatal neurophysiology. Her PhD thesis from Kings College London focused on EEG and cerebral blood flow velocity during neonatal seizures. She is a Science Foundation Ireland and Wellcome Trust funded Principal Investigator.

At the INFANT centre, she leads the neonatal brain research group. This is a multidisciplinary research team that has established an international reputation in the area of neurological monitoring in the neonatal intensive care unit, particularly for seizure detection and early diagnosis of brain injury. Researchers in Geraldine’s group are developing automated algorithms for monitoring brain activity and novel monitoring tools for physiological data acquisition in the neonatal intensive care unit. One such innovation, an automated seizure detection algorithm for newborn babies, is the focus of a large multicentre trial (ANSeR) funded by a Strategic Translational Award from the Wellcome Trust (www.anserstudy.com)

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Adré du Plessis

As a fetal-neonatal neurologist Dr. du Plessis efforts have focused on the immature brain, understanding it’s normal development, as well as the causes and consequences of abnormal brain development. Embracing its clinical, research and training aspects, he has been at the forefront of developing this unique emerging discipline. More than 20 years ago, Dr. du Plessis was a founding director of the first-ever dedicated clinical program for neonatal (and later fetal-neonatal) neurology at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard’s Longwood-area medical centers. Since assuming his current position as chief of Fetal and Transitional Medicine and director of the Fetal Medicine Institute at Children’s National Dr. du Plessis has overseen the development of a multidisciplinary clinical, research, and training program, that has a unique focus on the developing brain. Over the past 25 years that team has developed multimodal neuromonitoring devices that allow an unprecedented depth of continuous bedside inquiry into both the systemic support systems as well as autoregulatory systems intrinsic to the brain. This approach has allowed unique insights into the immature brain’s responses to critical illness, and has provided an invaluable framework for the training of young clinical investigators into the complex neuropathophysiology of the immature human.

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Alan Flake

Dr. Flake is an attending surgeon in the Division of Pediatric General, Thoracic and Fetal Surgery and holds the Ruth M. and Tristram C. Colket, Jr. Endowed Chair in Pediatric Surgery at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He serves as Director of CHOP’s Center for Fetal Research and is a professor of Surgery and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Flake was the Director of Fetal Surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan before joining the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at CHOP in 1996. Today, he spearheads an active research laboratory focused on fetal stem cell and gene therapy. He has been at the forefront of cutting-edge studies aimed at treating genetic disorders before birth. Dr. Flake is committed to discovering ways to help children live disease-free, and is currently moving toward a human clinical trial for sickle cell disease, utilizing in utero transplantation of maternal cells to the fetus. The goal is to increase the newborn’s tolerance for a successful bone marrow transplant.

“We’ve made significant progress in the lab,” he says. “The dream is to prevent these diseases before the children are born so they can live healthy lives.” Dr. Flake’s work in sickle cell disease has the potential to offer new hope for many other immunodeficiency disorders.

Dr. Flake’s clinical specialties include fetal diagnosis and therapy and neonatal surgery.

“I have been fortunate to be a part of developing the fetal treatment program here and we have the best in the world,” he says.

Dr. Flake is a leader in performing minimally invasive surgery, mostly on neonates, including thoracoscopic and laparoscopic procedures. He continues to refine and develop these delicate surgical techniques for the unique requirements of pediatric patients.

Dr. Flake earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas and his medical degree from University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. He completed his general surgery residency and fellowship in fetal biology and therapy research at the University of California, San Francisco, and served as a pediatric surgery fellow at Children’s Medical Center in Cincinnati. He is board certified in general and pediatric surgery.

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Antonio Frias

Antonio Frias is a Professor in the Division of Reproductive and Developmental Sciences at the Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC) and a Professor and Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) subspecialist in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU). He is the Director of the MFM Fellowship Program at OHSU. He completed medical school at the Mayo Clinic (1998), both residency training in Obstetrics & Gynecology (2002) and fellowship training in MFM at the University of Utah (2005). With his collaborators at OHSU, his laboratory is a leader in advanced imaging to assess placental function in vivo, with funding from both the NIH and the Gates Foundation. He is a principal investigator and co-investigator on multiple grants from the NICHD Human Placenta Project (HPP). He serves on the HPP Technology Development Committee, is a reviewer for NIH study section, and is a member of the NICHD Strategic Planning Working Group. In addition to receiving multiple teaching awards, he is also the recipient of the OHSU Faculty Mentorship Award and serves as a research mentor for young faculty investigators through the NIH Reproductive Scientist Development Program (RSDP) and the Women’s Reproductive Health Research (WRHR) Career Development Program.

Lauren Jansson

Lauren Jansson is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She is a developmental pediatrician and has been the director of Pediatrics at the Center for Addiction and Pregnancy, a comprehensive treatment program for pregnant and parenting women with addictions, since the program’s inception in 1991. In that capacity she provides comprehensive health care to substance exposed infants, children and adolescents in the context of maternal addiction, mental health concerns, and the dyad’s environment. Dr. Jansson’s principal areas of research involve exploring the effects of in utero exposures to opioids and other substances of abuse on the developing fetus and infant, optimizing treatment for women with opioid use disorders and opioid exposed infants, and lactation among women with substance use disorders.

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Barry Lester

Barry M. Lester, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychiatry & Human Behavior and Pediatrics and Director of the Brown Center for the Study of Children at Risk at the Brown Alpert Medical School and Women & Infants Hospital. The Brown Center also includes the Center for Children and Families at Women & Infants Hospital. The Centers provide research and clinical services for infants at risk and their families as well as research and clinical training. Dr. Lester's research has been federally funded throughout his career. He has been heavily involved in the NIH peer review process serving on NIH study sections, the NIH National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse, the NIH Director's Pioneer Award Program and the College of the Center for Scientific Review. He is past president of the International Association for Infant Mental Health and the author of more than 250 peer reviewed publications and 100 chapters and books.

Jeffrey Neil

Jeff Neil is a Professor of Neurology at Boston Children’s Hospital. He is a practicing child neurologist with an emphasis on Neonatal Neurology and has a PhD in Neuroscience. He earned his MD and PhD degrees from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. His research career has been focused on the application of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to understanding brain development and injury in babies. His research interests include the technical aspects of magnetic resonance methods. He has also studied the biophysics of tissue water diffusion (for diffusion MRI) using single cells, tissue culture, and animal models. He has developed and applied diffusion and functional MRI methods to assess cerebral white and grey matter maturation and injury in human infants.

Roberto Romero

Roberto Romero, MD, D.Med.Sci., is Chief of the Perinatology Research Branch of the NICHD/NIH. He trained in Obstetrics and Gynecology and Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Yale University, where he was Director of Perinatal Research, before joining NIH. Dr. Romero’s team has made seminal contributions to the diagnosis and treatment of ectopic pregnancy, prenatal diagnosis of congenital anomalies, prediction and prevention of preterm labor/delivery, and the role of infection/inflammation in preterm and term parturition. In addition, Dr. Romero is an author of over 1000 peer-reviewed publications and several books, including the medical best seller, Prenatal Diagnosis of Congenital Anomalies. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the recipient of 14 Doctorate Honoris Causa and Honorary Professorships from Universities worldwide. Dr. Romero has been honored by national and international professional societies for his medical and scientific contributions, including the Ian Donald Gold Medal (International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology), the Erich Saling Award from the World Association of Perinatal Medicine, the Maternité Prize in Obstetrics, awarded by the European Association of Perinatal Medicine, and also, is the first obstetrician to receive the prestigious Asan Award in Medicine from the Asan Foundation in South Korea.
Dr. Romero is Editor-in-Chief of the oldest journal in obstetrics and gynecology, the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. The journal has a circulation of 42,000 in the United States and has published seminal work that has the changed the lives of mothers and children.

George Saade

Dr. George Saade is a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Professor of Cell Biology, Director of the Perinatal Research Division, Chief of Obstetrics and Maternal-Fetal Medicine and the Jennie Sealy Smith Distinguished Chair in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Texas Medical Branch. In early 2014, Dr. Saade was appointed to the National Advisory Child Health and Human Development Council of the National Institutes of Health. He is an elected member of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society and Alpha Omega Alpha. He is past president of the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine and Chair of its Health Policy and Advocacy Committee. He is the editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Perinatology. Dr. Saade has served on a number of national and international advisory committees and scientific review panels, including NIH, CDC, March of Dimes, ACOG, Wellbeing/Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and the Health Research Council of New Zealand.

He is currently the principal investigator on two (2) NIH-funded clinical research networks and the co-investigator on three (3) others. Dr. Saade is certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and is an examiner. His clinical area of expertise revolves around stillbirth and preterm birth. He has authored more than 300 peer-reviewed publications, and is the editor of the Critical Care Obstetrics textbook. He has been voted as Best Doctor and selected to Super Doctors several years in a row.

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Mark Scher

Dr. Scher attended the University of Rochester (1968-1972) graduating with honors in History and Biology. After attending the SUNY of New York at Downstate Medical School (1972-1976), he completed a 2-year residency in pediatrics at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center (1976-78), and subsequently completed a 3-year pediatric neurology fellowship at the University of Minnesota, where he concurrently completed a fellowship in clinical neurophysiology (1978-1981). He then completed a post residency research fellowship in neonatal EEG/ neonatal neurology and experimental epilepsy at Stanford University (1981-1983).

His first of two academic appointments was at the University of Pittsburgh where he established and directed the fetal/neonatal neurology service at Magee-Women’s Hospital, while participating in service and teaching in the Division of Pediatric Neurology at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. He held joint faculty appointments in Pediatrics, Neurology and Psychiatry from 1983-1997 achieving the rank of tenured associate professor of Neurology and Pediatrics.

Since 1997, he has held the position of Chief of Pediatric Neurology at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital until July 2017, and is a tenured professor of Pediatrics and Neurology at the Case Medical Center at the Case Western Reserve University. Over his 20-year tenure as Chief, he established the fetal/neonatal neurology service, the pediatric epilepsy and pediatric sleep programs at Rainbow, expanding the division from 2 faculty in 1997 to a 10th faculty recruitment.

Dr. Scher’s research focuses on subjects in fetal and neonatal neurology health and disease, applied to both diagnosis and outcome in neonatal neurointensive care as well as throughout childhood. Utilizing visual and digital analyses of EEG-Sleep, he applied this functional biomarker to the study of brain maturation and organization, comparing preterm and full term survivors. His overarching research objective has been to study developmental neuroplasticity through interdisciplinary research studies with investigators in pediatric nursing, pediatric neurology, neonatology, developmental pharmacology, engineering, epidemiology and pathology. He has participated in 13 NIH-supported studies, of which 6 he was principal investigator or co-investigator, culminating at present in 160 peer-reviewed publications and 45 book chapters.

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Moriah Thomason

Moriah Thomason is an Associate Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in the New York University School of Medicine, and a Research Assistant Professor at the Survey Research Center in the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. She formerly served as Director of the Perinatal Neural Connectivity Unit within the intramural Perinatology Research Branch of NICHD/NIH. Her published research addresses principals of neural development beginning in utero. Her current NIH grants examine environmental factors with potential to influence functional neurocircuitry of the developing brain. She received her undergraduate training at UC Berkeley, and her graduate and postdoctoral training at Stanford and MIT in Neuroscience. Her work has been featured on NPR All Things Considered, BBC World Service, Huffington Post, MIT Technology Review, New Scientist, and most recently, in Science, Nature Medicine and National Geographic.

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Aaron White

Dr. White is a Biological Psychologist (Neuroscientist) in the Office of the Director at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), where he serves as Senior Scientific Advisor to the Director. Dr. White received his PhD from Miami University (Ohio) in 1999. His graduate research focused on brain mechanisms underlying alcohol-induced amnesia (i.e., “blackouts”).

In 2001, Dr. White completed a two year post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center and was appointed to the faculty as an Assistant Professor. His research there focused on the effects of alcohol on adolescent brain function and development, alcohol-induced blackouts in college students, and adolescent substance abuse treatment. During that time, Dr. White was fortunate to help create an online science focused alcohol education course for college students, called AlcoholEdu, which has been completed by more than 2,000,000 students. In 2008, Dr. White began his position at NIAAA, where he remains interested in adolescent development, the influence of alcohol and other drugs on it, and strategies for promoting adolescent health.

Over the years, Dr.White has appeared in dozens of educational videos, documentaries and news stories, delivered hundreds of presentations and published 50+ scientific articles and book chapters, mostly related to excessive alcohol use and its impact on adolescent brain function and behavior. He has published two books on adolescent development, one focused on research in psychology and the other on findings from brain science, and a third on the immune system and disease (recently translated into Chinese). Recent manuscripts examined hospitalizations for alcohol and drug overdoses among teens and young adults in the United States, trends in suicide-related drug poisonings and co-occurring alcohol overdoses, research on the consequences of excessive drinking for young adults and trends in drinking by females relative to males in the United States.