Pediatrics: Neonatology

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Neonatology Division Research

The Division of Neonatology and Department of Pediatrics identified research in pulmonary hypertension and vascular biology as a priority area and the research program was established under the direction of Dr. G. Ganesh Konduri.   This research is currently conducted at the Medical College of Wisconsin Cardiovascular Research Center. 

Dr. Adeleye Afolayan’s research focuses on the role mitochondrial oxidative stress plays in the pathogenesis of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). The mitochondria produce significant amount of superoxide radical during aerobic respiration. Superoxide anion is a powerful oxidant, which when in excess can damage the mitochondria and may lead to mitochondrial dysfunction. Superoxide dismutase isoforms (SODs) are important component of cellular antioxidant defenses that protect cell against oxidative damage. SOD2 is the gatekeeper in the mitochondrial matrix that removes excess superoxide radical produced to prevent oxidative stress. Our lab is using basic science approach to study the regulation of SOD2 and mitochondrial oxidative stress in the developing lungs using the fetal lamb model.

Dr. Susan Cohen earned her undergraduate and medical degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University.  She completed her pediatric and neonatal-perinatal training at Brown University.  Dr. Cohen has been involved in studies to understand brain development and the pathogenesis of brain injury in the fetus and neonate throughout her research career.  She has investigated the effects of cytokines on the endothelial barrier of the brain and has written reviews on the development of the blood-brain barrier.  Her current research interest is specifically looking at early life exposures and their effects on the vascular and neuronal development of the newborn brain.

Dr. Carey Ehlert is serving as a National Community Representative to the National Children’s Study (NCS).  Directed by the National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD), the NCS is planning to follow families from before conception or birth of the child, until age 21 to determine how environment influences long-term child health and development.

Dr. Hang Nghiem-Rao earned her undergraduate degree in Biological Basis of Behavior from the University of Pennsylvania and her medical degree from Temple University School of Medicine. She completed her pediatric residency at the University of Chicago Medical Center, and her neonatal-perinatal fellowship at TUFTS Medical Center. Dr. Nghiem-Rao’s primary research interest involves nutrition in critically ill infants, particularly the potential toxicities of intravenous nutrition and the contribution of abnormal lipid and sterol metabolism to liver disease and growth failure.

Dr. Venkatesh Sampath is an active participant in laboratory and translational research in our division and has presented at several Pediatric Academic Societies and other meetings. Dr. Sampath's research focuses on the role of innate immune receptors in the causation of diseases of preterm infants. Toll-like receptors (TLR) are pathogen recognition receptors which are pivotal for mediating specific, innate immune responses against a host of bacterial and viral ligands. We are using translational and basic science approaches to examine the pathogenesis of broncho-pulmonary dysplasia, necrotizing enterocolitis and sepsis in preterm infants in the context of alterations in TLR signaling. Research in our lab has been funded through the CTSI, NIH and CRI.

Dr. Ru-Jeng Teng has published several papers about pulmonary vascular biology using sheep model of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn. He demonstrated that both endothelial and smooth muscle cells from hypertensive lambs have increased reactive oxygen species formation that impairs angiogenesis potential and poor recovery response to injury of the pulmonary artery endothelial cells and enhanced smooth muscle cells proliferation. Several signaling pathways are shown to be involved in his work including AMP kinase, GTP-cyclohydrolase-I, NADPH oxidase, PI3K, and Nogo-B/Nogo-B receptor. He has obtained an NIH RO3 grant and 2013 CTSI Pilot Initiative Grant for his work.

Dr. Mike Uhing, along with the help of two research nurses, maintains the nationwide Vermont Oxford Database for the NICU’s participation in this multi-centered clinical trial sponsored by the network to improve the outcomes of neonates.  Currently, he is also involved in QA projects with the Neonatal fellows.

Dr. Scott Welak's research involves studying Necrotizing Enterocolitis, a disease unique to premature babies.  I perform laboratory research on this disease, studying how oxidative stress plays a role.

Dr. Tzong-Jin Wu, Associate Professor, has a strong interest in evidence based medicine. She is developing QI and research projects regarding nutrition in very-low-birth-weight infants, especially the use of donor human milk and individualized fortification of human milk.

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Page Updated 08/14/2014