Symposium Faculty


Diana Bianchi, MD

Dr. Bianchi is the director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). 

As NICHD director, Dr. Bianchi oversees research on pediatric health and development, maternal health, medical rehabilitation, population dynamics, reproductive health, and intellectual and developmental disabilities. With an annual budget of approximately $1.3 billion, the NICHD supports research grants and contracts at universities and other institutions across the country and overseas and an intramural research program of scientists working at NIH. 

Dr. Bianchi was previously the founding executive director of the Mother Infant Research Institute and vice chair for pediatric research at the Floating Hospital for Children and Tufts Medical Center in Boston, as well as the editor-in-chief of the international journal Prenatal Diagnosis.

A practicing medical geneticist with special expertise in reproductive genetics, Dr. Bianchi’s research focuses on prenatal genomics with the goal of advancing noninvasive prenatal DNA screening and diagnosis to develop new therapies for genetic disorders that can be administered prenatally.

Dr. Bianchi recently received two major lifetime achievement awards: the Landmark Award in 2015 from the American Academy of Pediatrics in recognition of her research and contributions to genetics and newborn care, and the Maureen Andrew Award for Mentoring in 2016 by the Society for Pediatric Research, which recognized her commitment to mentoring the next generation of clinician-scientists.

Mike Georgieff, MD

Dr. Georgieff holds the position of professor of Pediatrics and Child Psychology and director of the Division of Neonatology at the University of Minnesota. He received his MD from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He served his internship and residency at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He followed with a residency in neonatology at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Minnesota. In addition to attending on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Georgieff is director of the NICU Follow-up Clinic, director of Neonatal Nutrition Support Service, and director of the Center for Neurobehavioral Development. Dr. Georgieff’s research focuses on fetal/neonatal nutrition - specifically the effect of fetal/neonatal iron nutrition on brain development and neurocognitive function. He has been published in numerous journals, including American Journal of Physiology, Pediatric Research, Journal of Nutrition, and Journal of Pediatrics. He has written and contributed to a number of book chapters and has over 100 published papers.

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Ruth Grunau, PhD, RPsych

Dr. Grunau is a professor in the Division of Neonatology and Department of Pediatrics at the University of British Columbia, and senior scientist at the Child & Family Research Institute in Vancouver, Canada.

Dr. Grunau’s research in long-term effects of pain and stress in infants born very prematurely is at the forefront of her field internationally. Her landmark multidisciplinary work has established that repetitive neonatal pain and stress (above and beyond other risk factors of prematurity) is associated with altered brain development and stress regulation in infancy and at school age, thereby contributing to neurodevelopmental and behavioral difficulties in this fragile population. Her research has been supported by the United States' National Institutes of Health and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.


Alistair Gunn, MBChB

Dr. Gunn is the head of the Department of Physiology at the University of Auckland and is a pediatrician-scientist who has conducted groundbreaking basic research into ways of identifying compromised fetuses in labor, the mechanisms and treatment of asphyxial brain injury, and the mechanisms of life-threatening events in infancy. His research helped to establish mild cooling as the first ever technique to reduce brain injury due to low oxygen levels at birth.  He has developed a range of chronically instrumented fetal sheep paradigms that have helped characterize the relationship between fetal heart rate patterns and fetal condition before birth and in labor.

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Emin Maltepe, MD, PhD

Dr. Maltepe received his BA, MD, and PhD degrees from the University of Chicago. While there, he developed an interest in the role of oxygen tension during development and pursued clinical training in pediatrics as well as neonatology at the University of California, San Francisco. He is currently an associate professor in residence in the Department of Pediatrics and an attending physician in the intensive care nursery where he focuses his clinical interest on the care of premature infants.

Dr. Maltepe leads a research lab concentrating on the role of organism-environment interactions during development. Specifically, he has helped define the role of oxygen tension as a morphogen during mammalian development. Using transgenic technologies and stem cell-based approaches, he has been interested in defining the role of oxygen sensitive transcription factors during organ formation. Most recently, he has concentrated on the role of oxygen tension during placental development and the potential role hypoxia signaling pathways may have in disorders of human placental development such as preeclampsia. Additionally, he is interested in the clinical implications of exogenous oxygen exposure to premature infants.


Hugo Lagercrantz

Dr. Lagercrantz was appointed professor of pediatrics at Karolinska Institutet in 1989 and was director of the Neonatal Program at the Astrid Lindgren Children´s Hospital until 2004. He is presently editor-in-chief for Acta Paediatrica, and has been a member of the Nobel Assembly and the Nobel Committee.

Dr. Lagercrantz  coined the expression “the stress of being born” (Scientific American 1986) -  this stress seems to be of vital importance for neonatal adaptation. He also has been interested in the apnea of prematurity and the sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).  Recently, his main interests have been in brain development, particularly for preterm babies. By studying how children process stimulation of the senses, such as smell, pain or the vision of a face, he tries to understand how consciousness emerges and what happens when there is abnormal development of the brain. He also has been involved in the finding of a spontaneous resting activity in the newborn brain – showing that it is not “a blank slate”.

Catherine Limperopoulos, PhD
Dr. Limperopoulos is a neuroscientist who directs MRI Research of the Developing Brain and the Advanced Pediatric Brain Imaging Research Program at Children’s National Health System.  Her research focuses on studying the causes and consequences of early life brain injury in high-risk fetal and newborn populations. Central to her research is the application of advanced magnetic resonance imaging techniques to understand the timing and evolution of brain injury, as well as the brain's adaptive response following injury. The long-term goal of her research program is to develop reliable biomarkers of brain injury that will guide medical and surgical interventions aimed at circumventing injury and minimizing long-term developmental disability.

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William Pearce, MD

Dr. Pearce is a Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology in the Lawrence D. Longo, MD Center for Perinatal Biology at Loma Linda University School of Medicine. 

Dr. Pearce’s research is focused on the vascular biology of the fetal cerebral circulation, with emphasis on the effects of biological stresses such as hypoxia, ischemia and nutrient deprivation, on the structural and functional maturation of the cerebrovasculature.  His recent work has focused on the ability of in utero stresses to induce long lasting epigenetic changes in cerebral artery structure, due in part to the combined actions of glucocorticoids and microRNAs working in tandem to alter the extracellular matrix of cerebral arteries. 

In aggregate, Dr. Pearce's work of 30 years emphasizes that the fetal cerebrovasculature is highly dynamic, exquisitely adaptable but fragile, and is governed by a very different set of mechanisms than those that regulate structure and function in adult cerebral arteries.

Mike Seed, MD

Dr. Seed was appointed as a Staff Cardiologist at SickKids and Assistant Professor in Paediatrics in July 2011 and is cross appointed to Diagnostic Imaging and Obstetrics and Gynecology.   He received his medical degree at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in the United Kingdom where he initially trained in paediatrics before completing a residency in Radiology at Leeds.  He undertook fellowships in paediatric radiology and cardiac MRI followed by a fellowship in paediatric cardiology at SickKids.  Dr. Seed splits his clinical time between cardiac imaging and in-patient cardiology.  His research has been into the development of fetal cardiovascular MRI and he is the recipient of several grants from the CIHR for his work on the fetal circulation and its relationship with brain development.

Sampsa Vanhatalo, MD, PhD

Dr. Vanhatalo obtained his MD and PhD degrees from the University of Helsinki, Finland. He is the professor and senior consultant in clinical neurophysiology at Helsinki University Hospital. In addition to his neurophysiological training, Dr Vanhatalo has clinical experience in general practice, pediatrics, pediatric neurology, epileptology, neurology, and emergency medicine.

Dr. Vanhatalo is leading the BABA center dedicated to studies on baby brain activity. For the past ten years, he has focused on developing methodology for neonatal neurophysiology ranging from the development of EEG hardware to other devices (eg. EEG caps and stimulators), mathematical signal analyses, as well as neurobiological models underlying early EEG activity. All these activities have a heavy translational emphasis whereby the targets of research have been set to result in medical applications, and hence ultimately benefit clinical work and ill babies.


Eric Vilain, MD, PhD

Dr. Vilain is the director of the Center for Genetic Medicine Research within Children’s National Children’s Research Institute (CRI).  In addition, he is the A. James Clark Distinguished Professor of Molecular Genetics.

Dr. Vilain received his BS in Biochemistry at the Universite Pierre et Marie Curie in 1987 and his PhD in 1994 at the Pasteur Institute. In 1995, Dr. Vilain received his MD at the Faculte de Medecine Necker Enfants Malades. When he was a medical student, his first assignment was a pediatric service taking care of intersexed infants. He was shocked to see how poor the understanding of this condition was, and how many life-altering decisions were made on behalf of the babies. Dr. Vilain has devoted his academic career to the biology of intersexuality. He serves on several national committees on intersexuality. He has received numerous awards, notably from the NIH and the March of Dimes. Dr. Vilain is an expert in the field of the genetics of sexual development. He has deciphered a large number of molecular mechanisms responsible for intersexuality in humans, such as mutations in the sex-determining genes SRY and SOX9, and worked on the mechanisms of early gonadal development and brain sexual differentiation.

Lubo Zhang, PhD

Dr. Zhang is a professor of Physiology and Pharmacology and director of Lawrence D. Longo, MD Center for Perinatal Biology at Loma Linda University School of Medicine.  Dr. Zhang’s research focuses on maternal and developmental physiology with specific interests in key research areas of molecular and epigenetic modulations of developmental plasticity in programming of health and disease, particularly maternal adaptation and fetal and neonatal development in response to hypoxia during gestation. His research helped to understand the molecular and epigenetic mechanisms in developmental programming of “ischemic-sensitive” phenotype in the brain and heart and their impacts in perinatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury and ischemic heart disease later in life.  His research has been continuously funded by multiple NIH grants for over 20 years, and he is the Program Director of a Program Project Grant funded by the NICHD to investigate gestational hypoxia and developmental plasticity. He has published over 250 peer-reviewed publications in Journals with high impact factors on the subjects.  Dr. Zhang has served various study sections of grant review for the US National Institutes of Health and American Heart Association over the past 20 years.


Breakfast Breakout Sessions


Dorothy Bulas, MD

Dorothy Bulas, MD, is an attending in the Division of Diagnostic Imaging and Radiology at Children's National Health System. She serves as the section head of ultrasound and fetal imaging. Dr. Bulas's clinical and research interests include prenatal sonographic and MRI evaluation of congenital anomalies, transcranial doppler evaluation of neonatal and pediatric cerebrovascular injury, and blunt abdominal trauma.

Taeun Chang, MD

Dr. Chang is a neurologist in the Division of Neurophysiology, Epilepsy, and Critical Care at Children's National Health System. She also serves as the Ddrector of the Neonatal Neurology and Neonatal Neurocritical Care Program, where she successfully created a neonatal neurocritical care (NNCC) service and an outpatient neonatal neurology clinic program in 2004.  In conjunction with the NICU, Dr. Chang established Children’s neonatal cooling protocol and program in 2006.  Children’s National has cooled over 280 newborns to date.  

Dr. Chang, with colleagues, has established an internationally-renown neonatal neuromonitoring unit with four digital video EEG monitors in the NICU and bedside remote EEG access to each NICU bed.  Dr. Chang and her team are working on advancing the frontiers of neonatal neurointensive care and examining the antecedents for their brain injury or malformations.

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Margaret Menzel, MS, GCG

Ms. Menzel is a genetic counselor within Children's National Fetal Medicine Institute with more than 14 years of prenatal genetic counselor experience. She holds certifications from the American Board of Medical Genetics and the American Board of Genetic Counseling.

Ms. Menzel's background is in psychology and medical genetics, and her current interests include biomedical ethics, research of sexual development disorders, and the psychological effects of stress due to prenatal diagnoses. In addition to serving as the clinical program director for Fetal Genetic Counseling, she serves as a care coordinator for referred patients and serves on the Children’s National Ethics Committee.

Sarah Mulkey, MD, PhD

Dr. Mulkey is a fetal-neonatal neurologist in the Division of Fetal and Transitional Medicine at Children’s National Health System. Dr. Mulkey earned her medical degree from the Florida State University College of Medicine in 2005 and completed a residency in Child Neurology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Following completion of her residency, she became the first and only dedicated neonatal neurologist in Arkansas, providing state-of-the-art neurologic care to newborns with a variety of complex neurologic conditions. She was the Site-principal Investigator at Arkansas Children’s Hospital for the Phase II clinical trial for erythropoietin as a neuroprotective agent for neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy led by UCSF (Dr. Yvonne Wu).

In 2015, Dr. Mulkey earned a PhD in Clinical and Translational Sciences to further support her development as a clinical researcher. Her research interests include brain injury in the fetus and newborn, brain growth and development, and neurodevelopmental outcomes in newborns at risk for brain injury. Dr. Mulkey’s clinical expertise and interests focus on abnormal development or injury to the developing brain. 

Anapurna Poduri, MD

Dr. Poduri directs the Epilepsy Genetics Program as a clinician-scientist, with one hand in the clinic as a pediatric epileptologist and the other hand in the laboratory on a mission to identify the genetic underpinnings of epilepsy. Here at Boston Children's, she is also the Co-Director of the Neurology Department's Program in Neurogenetics and serves on the BEST Committee for standardizing laboratory practices.

Dr. Poduri is a key participant in epilepsy genetics research at the local and national levels. She is the Epilepsy Genetics Benchmark Steward to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the Boston Children's Principal Investigator for the NIH-funded Epilepsy Phenome/Genome Project (EPGP), a national, multi-centered research study. She has been actively involved in data quality review and publications from the phenotyping phase of that project, and is now involved in the genotyping phase. In addition, Dr. Poduri is part of an international effort to understand the genetics of severe early-onset epilepsies.

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Charles Raybaud, MD, FRCP(C)

Dr. Raybaud graduated from Faculty of Medicine of Marseille, France, and trained in Clinical Neurosciences, Neuroanatomy and Neuroradiology in Marseille and the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology in Saint Louis. He moved to Toronto in 2004 to become the division head of Neuroradiology at the Hospital for Sick Children and a professor of radiology at the University of Toronto.  He has been the Derek Harwood-Nash Chair in Medical Imaging since 2011.

Dr. Raybaud’s main research interests are brain development in health and disease and its disorders (this includes: brain malformations and genetic disorders, diseases of the brain in fetuses and infants, mental delay/autism and a long standing interest in epilepsy).

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Ashley Robinson, MB, ChB, FRCR, FRCPC
Dr. Robinson joined Sidra Medical and Research Center in April 2014 as the division chief of Interventional Radiology. Before joining Sidra, Dr. Robinson was the head of Pediatric Interventional Radiology and deputy head of the Department of Radiology at the Children’s Hospital of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.

Dr. Robinson completed his medical degree at Leeds Medical School in the UK and radiology training at the University of Manchester, UK. Dr. Robinson has won several awards for his work in fetal and neonatal neuroradiology, including the John Kirkpatrick Award from the Society for Pediatric Radiology in 2007, the Ella Preiskel Prize from the Royal College of Radiologists (UK), in 2005 and the Derek Harwood-Nash award from the American Society of Neuroradiology in 2004. He also is a member of the Interventional Radiology Committee and the Fetal Imaging Committee of the Society for Pediatric Radiology.

Matthew Whitehead, MD

Dr. Whitehead is the Director of Pediatric Neuroradiology Education and Neuroradiologic MRI at Children’s National Health System.  A pediatric neuroradiologist with a special interest in structural and metabolic brain abnormalities, he holds an American Board of Radiology certificate of added qualification in neuroradiology and has completed both neuroradiology and pediatric neuroradiology fellowships.

Dr. Whitehead’s research encompasses many facets of fetal and pediatric central nervous system anatomy and pathology. He has a keen interest in the developing brain and works closely with the division of fetal medicine, providing fetal brain MRI interpretations and case discussions during their weekly multidisciplinary fetal conference.