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Neonatology - Research


The Section of Neonatology faculty are nationally and internationally recognized researchers with a broad range of research interests fostering programmatic areas of excellence.

Our Neonatology faculty have pioneered many critical developments in neonatal care for critically ill newborns and in many cases were the first in the world to use new therapies including:

  • Surfactant replacement for premature babies’ lungs
  • Inhaled Nitric Oxide therapy for pulmonary hypertension
  • Brain cooling for perinatal brain injury
  • Optimal nutritional strategies for low birth weight babies

Focus areas of interest for perinatal/neonatal research include:

  • Fetal and Neonatal Nutrition & Metabolism
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn
  • Pulmonary Vascular Development
  • Worldwide Implementation of Neonatal Resuscitation Program
  • The use of stable isotopes and indirect calorimetry to study glucose, non-glucose carbohydrate, and amino acid utilization in the premature infant
  • Use of nitric oxide in the term and preterm infant and cardiopulmonary adaptation to altitude

Faculty are also involved in basic research at the molecular, cellular, organ and whole animal levels. Areas of excellence include:

  • Research on carbohydrate and amino acid metabolism and on organ blood-flow regulation
  • In vivo studies emphasizing chronically catheterized animals take place at the UCSOM Perinatal Research Center. Areas of research interest include pulmonary vascular development as well as placental, cerebral, hepatic, and muscle metabolism in normal, growth-retarded, and hypoxic fetal lambs
  • Studies requiring stable isotopic analysis are completed in collaboration with a number of investigators on the UCSOM and Colorado State University campuses
  • In vitro studies currently focus on growth-factor regulation and placental development under conditions of placental insufficiency

Perinatal Research Center (PRC)

The Department of Pediatrics Perinatal Research Center (PRC) is the longest standing research and educational program at Anschutz Medical Campus. Faculty who conduct studies at the Center are on the leading edge of research in maternal, placental, and fetal physiology.

The PRC supports the Division of Perinatal Medicine, which is jointly managed by the Departments of Pediatrics and Obstetrics and Gynecology. Other primary participating research and educational programs include the Pediatric Heart Lung Center and the Laboratory for Lung Development.

Faculty Research Interests

Dr. James Barry’s research seeks to better patient outcomes through process and system improvements using qualitative investigational methods in the NICU. Additionally, he seeks to better understand and define methods of education that can increase and improve neonatal resuscitation skills in NICU personnel.

Dr. Laura Brown’s research goals are to improve the muscle growth of the fetus during a pregnancy affected by intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). The main question she hopes to answer is why muscle fails to grow properly even into adulthood after exposure to IUGR. By exploring the cellular mechanisms that control fetal muscle growth and development in IUGR, we will better understand why there are persistent abnormalities in muscle growth during childhood and adulthood. Furthermore, these findings will guide the development of nutritional strategies during pregnancy and early childhood to improve muscle growth and prevent the development of lifelong diseases.

Dr. Jed Friedman’s research specialization is on the maternal-fetal origins of obesity, ranging from transcription factors involved in energy balance, to mechanisms underlying fatty liver development, to molecular pathways for insulin resistance in humans and non-human primates.

Dr. Jason Gien studies pulmonary hypertension, chronic lung disease, and congenital heart disease.

Dr. Theresa Grover focuses on regulation of fetal and neonatal pulmonary blood flow, mechanisms of pulmonary vascular and alveolar growth, persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and the role of vascular endothelial growth factor in lung development.

Dr. William Hay, Jr.’s basic research is supported by NIH-funded grants to study various aspects of placental and fetal growth restriction, with specific attention to placental nutrient transfer and metabolism, fetal insulin secretion, and fetal insulin action. His research is aimed at understanding how disturbances in maternal nutrient supply to the placenta and fetus produce adaptations in fetal development that could underlie later life disorders such as obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes. His clinical research through the Children's Hospital Colorado Clinical Translational Research Center focuses on early postnatal intravenous nutrition of the extremely low birth weight infant, aimed at determining the optimal amount and mixture of amino acids and energy supplies to promote early and optimal growth of body weight and composition in preterm infants to prevent postnatal growth restriction. He is also a world expert in neonatal applications of pulse oximetry to monitor blood oxygenation in newborn infants.

Dr. Peter Hulac’s interests are in prenatal consultations with families whose fetus has challenging diagnoses. He is also an expert in decision-making in acute care situations, particularly at the margins of viability.

Dr. M. Douglas Jones, Jr.’s research interest is in graduate medical education.

Dr. Susan Niermeyer focuses on international child health, neonatal resuscitation, and high-altitude physiology including cardiopulmonary adaptation in infants at high altitude, acute mountain sickness in children, and fetal and neonatal origins of chronic mountain sickness.

Dr. Thomas Parker’s scientific focus is on hormonal modulation of the developing fetal pulmonary circulation, the role of endogenous nitric oxide in the developing lung circulation, the myogenic response in the fetal and newborn pulmonary circulation, the role of rho kinase in the modulation of pulmonary vascular tone, and the use of inhaled nitric oxide in treatment of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn.

Dr. Regina Reynolds’ research interests include neonatal nutrition, neonatal nutrient metabolism, growth and body composition of the neonate, especially the preterm infant and neonates with congenital heart disease.

Dr. Adam Rosenberg’s research focus is on the regulation of cerebral blood flow in the fetus and neonate, surfactant replacement therapy, clinical management of birth asphyxia, and outcomes of high-risk newborn term and preterm infants. He is also the Director of the Pediatric Residency Program.

Dr. Paul Rozance is interested in the fetal consequences of intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). IUGR results in metabolic and developmental adaptations which set up an individual for long term health problems including hypertension, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, obesity, and diabetes. His overall goal is to define the mechanisms responsible for these adverse outcomes. His main focus is on the pancreatic beta-cells which secrete insulin (the dominant fetal growth hormone). He also is collaborating in experiments determining the developmental and metabolic consequences of IUGR on fetal lungs, liver, muscle, and large arteries. In conjunction with defining the developmental consequences of IUGR he is testing the ability of fetal interventions to reverse these adverse consequences with the ultimate goal of designing interventions to treat IUGR and improve fetal growth.

Dr. Daniel Satterwhite studies the developmental regulation of cell growth and differentiation, growth factors, oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes, IUGR, and metabolism.

Dr. Elizabeth Thilo's research focuses on early adrenal insufficiency in ELBW infants, and the concept of relative adrenal insufficiency in critically ill infants, including the possible beneficial effect of steroid replacement therapy in sepsis syndrome in the term and near-term infant. She is also interested in early newborn discharge for both term and premature infants; noninvasive monitoring techniques, especially pulse oximetry; hyperbilirubinemia and prevention of kernicterus; newborn transition and the effects of altitude; and pain management in the neonate.

Dr. Stephanie Thorn’s research interests primarily involve the fetal origins of diabetes and obesity; fetal metabolism; intrauterine fetal growth and fetal growth restriction; mammalian glucose and lipid metabolism; and molecular endocrinology and metabolism.

Dr. Randall Wilkening’s research activities include placental transfer and function; fetal metabolic responses to placental dysfunction; and fetal organ blood flow and metabolism.