Faculty

Division Chief

Peter J. Giannone, MD

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Key Interests


Neonatal Morbidities
Inflammation
Infant Brain Injury
Translational Research

Bio


As a practicing neonatologist and Chief of Neonatology at Kentucky Children’s Hospital, as well as a Senior Inpatient Medical Director and Director of our Academic Service Line, I have been close to the many medical problems that affect the newborn patient population. I recognize the potential value of developing projects that address key aspects of in utero environment-related disease development in Kentucky’s newborns and children. I also am keenly aware of the impact of prenatal and postnatal ‘insults’ on medical and social outcomes. I have developed my research program to address these problems, with the central belief that translational research can, and does, lead solutions to important medical problems. As a neonatologist I have struggled with caring for newborn babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), and I also know the clinical challenges related to treatment in these fragile infants. To that end, I have a strong interest in translational studies designed to find better solutions to help improve newborn outcomes.

Dr. Giannone is available to serve as either a primary mentor or co-mentor for a fellow.



Fellowship Program Director

Thitinart Sithisarn, MD, PhD

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Key Interests


Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)
Neonatal Brain Injury and Development
Stress Axis
Behavior Outcomes
Animal Models

Bio


My research interests focus on neonatal brain injury and development, NAS and the effects of substance of abuse on brain development, stress axis and neurobehavioral outcomes. I have developed in-vitro and in-vivo animal models to address research questions. I have been working with the fellows in clinical studies finding biomarkers for NAS clinical severity and outcomes. I am closely involved with NICU graduate clinic to study the outcomes in high-risk infants.

Dr. Sithisarn is available to serve as either a primary mentor or co-mentor for a fellow.




Faculty

Elie Abu Jawdeh, MD

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Key Interests


Preterm Infant
Neonatal Pulmonology
Respiratory Control
Intermittent Hypoxemia
Retinopathy of Prematurity
Bedside Monitoring
Clinical and Translational Studies

Bio


I am interested in neonatal pulmonology and control of breathing and have special interest in bedside monitoring of cardio-respiratory events in preterm infants. I am currently actively collecting data for funded clinical studies related to predictors and consequences of cardio-respiratory events/intermittent hypoxemia in preterm infants. In collaboration with biomedical engineering, we are developing neonatal cerebral blood flow and oxygenation sensors to monitor brain hemodynamics. I am also the site PI for multi-center studies related to neonatal pulmonology/Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia and Respiratory Distress Syndrome/Surfactant. In addition to being a full time faculty, I am completing my PhD in Clinical and Translational Science University of Kentucky.

Dr. Abu Jawdeh is available to serve as either a primary mentor or co-mentor for a fellow.

Sana A Alhajri, MBBS

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Key Interests


Bio


Henrietta S. Bada, MD, MPH

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Key Interests


Infant
Newborn Brain Disorders
Neurobehavior
Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)
Physiologic Monitoring
Follow-up and Child Development
Clinical Trials

Bio


My interests are primarily related to investigation of pathogenesis using prospective cohort studies, randomized clinical trials, and prospective evaluation of outcomes. Designing studies with an intervention component makes for a very interesting and exciting research which hopefully will culminate in excellent support for the expected outcomes.

Dr. Bada is available to serve as either a primary mentor or co-mentor for a fellow.

Hubert O. Ballard, MD

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Key Interests


Preterm Infant
Term Infant
Extracorporeal Life Support (ECLS
ECMO)
Respiratory
Pulmonary
Clinical

Bio


I am interested in research projects that are driven by quality improvement for both ECMO and respiratory outcomes. I am currently collaborating with multiple individuals to improve patient outcomes and to better understand our current clinical practice variation. An example of a current ECLS project is evaluating oxidative injury in ECMO and pre-ECMO neonates. I am also collaborating with respiratory therapy and looking at the utility of spontaneous breathing trials in premature babies who are <28 weeks.

Dr. Ballard is available to serve as either a primary mentor or co-mentor for a fellow.

John A. Bauer, PhD

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Key Interests


Bio


My translational research program intersects immune-inflammatory mechanisms and unmet medical needs in children. Throughout the past decade I have directed my own research group, served in several administrative capacities (including development of Neonatology and Pediatric Heart Center Research Strategic plans), and fostered multi-investigator research teams to address major medical challenges, particularly those affecting children. My research group has been the nucleus of several large clinical research projects, wherein I have linked my own expertise with highly capable physician scientists, and my research experiences truly range from bench to bedside.

Prasad Bhandary, MD

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Key Interests


Tiny Baby
Red Cell Transfusions
IVH
ECMO

Bio


I lead a multidisciplinary work group that is focused on improvement of clinical care for ELBW neonates (tiny baby). Our group has successfully completed multiple quality improvement projects that have been presented at national conferences. We also have currently ongoing quality improvement projects including IVH reduction, phlebotomy reduction, kangaroo care. My other research/clinical interests included extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation. I currently have ongoing projects including therapeutic hypothermia, fluid overload.

Dr. Bhandary is available to serve as either a primary mentor or co-mentor for a fellow.

Melvin D Cunningham, MD

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Key Interests


Preterm Infant
Neonatal Pulmonology
Ventilation Support
Medical Practice Variation

Bio


I am interested in the evaluation of performance and outcomes of UK Neonatology division clinical practices for ventilatory support of infants in NICU with acute respiratory failure.

Dr. Cunningham is available to serve as either a primary mentor or co-mentor for a fellow.

Sumit Dang, MD

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Key Interests


Medical Simulation
Neonatal Resuscitation
Medical Education

Bio


My interests are in newborn resuscitation, simulation and medical education. Currently working with the Newborn HAL Simulation model and was instrumental in starting NICU Simulation Program. My current research initiatives include improving delivery room outcomes using Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) simulation model. I am also involved with a variety of educational initiatives for residents at UK and am currently acting in the capacity of NICU simulation and resident education director.

Dr. Dang is available to serve as either a primary mentor or co-mentor for a fellow.

Sanchayan Debnath, MBBS

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Key Interests


Retinopathy of prematurity & Effects of maternal inflammation
Neonatal Resuscitation

Bio


My primary research interest is looking into the incidence of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) in our unit, as this is often overlooked. Primary focus being the relationship of maternal chorioamnionitis/ inflammation/ funisitis and their role in ROP incidence. I want to look for cord blood markers in predicting severity of ROP if a relationship is established. I have also worked closely with fellows in teaching neonatal pathophysiology as well as different aspects of neonatal resuscitation.

Medical School: Jawaharlal Institute of Post-Graduate Medical Education and Research, Pondicherry, India
Residency: St. John Hospital and Medical Center, Detroit, MI

Nirmala S. Desai, MD

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Key Interests


Nutrition
Global Health Initiatives

Bio


Dr. Desai graduated from M.S. University in Baroda, India in 1966 with a M.B.B.S. degree. She then went on to complete her Pediatric Residency at Boston Children’s Hospital and a Neonatology Fellowship at Boston Hospital for Women (now known as Brigham and Women’s). After finishing her Fellowship in 1972, she joined the Faculty at the University of Kentucky. She is a retired holder of an academic rank of Professor of Pediatrics and is continuing to be involved in clinical research. She participates in global health initiatives such as the Shoulder to Shoulder Brigade to Ecuador in which she gives HBB workshops. She is the former Director of the NICU follow-up program.
https://lextimecovid19.com/suvas-and-nima/

Ricki F. Goldstein, MD

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Key Interests


Neurodevelopmental Follow-Up of High-Risk Infants
Optimizing

Bio


My research interests are in developing models of care that will lead to better outcomes in infants with medical complexity. I have developed a fellowship track in Neurodevelopmental Follow-up and Outcomes Research as well as a post-residency fellowship curriculum to train general pediatricians in how to care for medically complex infants and young children in their practice. My present focus is on developing an Infant Complex Care Clinic Program for medically complex infants and young children and demonstrating its effect on both short and long-term outcomes.

Dr. Goldstein is available to serve as either a primary mentor or co-mentor for a fellow.

Mina Hanna, MD

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Key Interests


Preterm Infant
Acute Kidney Injury (AKI)
Biomarkers
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
Consequences
Precision Medicine
Omnics

Bio


My research focuses on predictors of renal development and injury in preterm infants, as well as long-term consequences of AKI in this vulnerable population. These studies include: Animal model of chorioamnionitis: looking on the effect on nephrotoxic renal injury on renal development; Biomarkers of AKI in preterm infants; Long term consequences of AKI.

Dr. Hanna is available to serve as either a primary mentor or co-mentor for a fellow.

Bandi R. Mahaffey, MD

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Key Interests


Post-NICU outcomes of high-risk infants
Neonatal Palliative Care
Parent communication and counseling

Bio


My primary clinical focus is follow-up of neonates after NICU discharge in order to evaluate and improve outcomes for these high-risk infants. I spend about half of my clinical time in the NICU Graduate Clinic seeing our patients and working with fellows there. I also work with other specialists performing prenatal counseling for mothers of infants with known fetal anomalies. I strive to keep an open line of communication with the families of our highest risk babies from before delivery all the way to transition home from the NICU and beyond and work closely with the fellows throughout this continuum.

Murali Palla, MD

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Key Interests


Preterm Infant
Neonatal Neurology
Healthcare Quality

Bio


My research interests are in the areas of preterm infant brain injury, including Hypoxic/ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), seizures, Intraventricular Hemorrhage and long-term consequences during developmental follow up.

Dr. Palla is available to a co-mentor a fellow as a team member.

Rupin Sharma, MD

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Key Interests


Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS)
Antibiotic Stewardship
Biomarkers for Early Detection of Neonatal Sepsis

Bio


My research interests focus on early detection of neonatal sepsis using biomarkers and studying early hemodynamic changes associated with late onset sepsis. As a fellow, I have worked in several antibiotic stewardship initiatives aimed to safely reduce antibiotic exposure in the first week of life for NICU patients. I am also an avid POCUS user, with the goal to eventually help develop a curriculum for POCUS training for the neonatology fellows.

Alison L. Slone, MD

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Key Interests


Neonatal Outreach
Graduate Medical Education
Effective Communication Strategies

Bio


Some of my current roles include Medical Director of Neonatal Outreach for our surrounding hospitals in Central and Eastern Kentucky and Associate Program Director for the Pediatric Residency here at KCH. My interests are in supporting the families of our patients, both prenatally and throughout the NICU journey, as well as in effective communication strategies. I am also involved in the AAP Section on Neonatal Perinatal Medicine with a focus on supporting the trainee and early career neonatologists through TECaN.

Medical School: University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Residency: University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, KY

Pratibha Thakkar, MBBS

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Key Interests


Care of Extremely Premature and Extremely Low Birthweight Infants
Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome and ECMO
PDA

Bio


My vested interest lies in understanding hemodynamic alterations associated with PDA and its clinical implications especially in ELBW infants. I have been involved in quality improvement projects such as provision of kangaroo care in preterm infants on jet ventilator. I am also passionate about ECMO and actively involved with our ECMO team. Having completed my training in Appalachian region, I have encountered multitude of patients with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) and have grown a special interest in this population. To continue my efforts in improving the care delivered to such babies, I have recently joined PATHHome Trial, a collaborative project led by MFM team. Our goal is to standardize the care delivered to mother-infant dyad across the state.