Potential Mentors

Catherine M. Bendel, MD

Dr. Bendel’s research has involved the pathogenesis of infections due to Candida albicans and other Candida species in neonates; as well as related multi-center clinical trials on the NICU. Her work focused specifically on assessing yeast factors that account for adhesion, virulence and the host microbe interaction. She is currently collaborating with Dr. Gale to look at the role of these factors in the development of the neonatal fungal microbiome. Dr. Bendel has also been involved in clinical trials regarding fluconazole prophylaxis in ELBW infants, prevention of BPD in the TOLSURF trial, and the SCAMP trial to evaluate antibiotic therapy for NEC and complex intra-abdominal infections.  Her work is supported by funding from the NHLBI and NIH. Dr. Bendel in also the Associate Chair for Diversity for the Department of Pediatrics. 

Mark Bergeron, MD, MPH

Dr. Bergeron is on faculty at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics–St. Paul, and has a Master’s in Public Health in the area of Maternal and Child Health. Dr. Bergeron has a strong interest in clinical research, maternal and child health health policy, and quality improvement initiatives, and has been actively involved in the Vermont Oxford Network NICQ Collaborative. Dr. Bergeron also serves as an adjunct faculty member for the School of Public Health.

Melissa Engel, MD

Dr. Engel is on faculty at the University of Minnesota, providing clinical care at the North Metro community hospitals. Her scholarly activity has focused on Quality Improvement  (QI) on both the NICU and neonatal education programs. She also collaborates with our colleauges in cardiology continuing to improve methods of screening for CCHD by oximetry  neurologic sequelae of perinatal iron deficiency.

Cheryl A. Gale, MD

Dr. Gale is an established investigator in molecular pathogenesis mechanisms underlying Candida albicans infections. Her current research focus is to understand how early-life gut microbial communities, especially fungal microbiomes (mycobiomes) are established during infancy, and how gut microbes are involved in the development of short- and long-term health outcomes such as metabolism and brain function. Her research is funded by the NIH, and the University of Minnesota's Academic Health Center and Department of Pediatrics.

Thomas George, MD

Dr. George is Clinical Director of the UMACH NICU and Associate Program Director for the Pediatric Residency Program. He is involved in studies of graduate medical education, clinical research projects on the NICU, participates in our Vermont‐Oxford Network team, administrative/program development, outreach, and neonatal CME activities.

Michael K. Georgieff, MD

Dr. Georgieff is an established investigator in neonatal nutrition and metabolism and neurodevelopment. He has a joint appointment in Pediatrics and the Institute of Child Development and is a member of the Neuroscience Graduate Faculty. Dr. Georgieff is the chief of Neonatology and Co‐Director of the Center for Neurobehavioral Development (CNBD) at the University of Minnesota. He also directs the Neonatal Nutrition Support Service and the NICU Follow‐up Clinic Program at the University site. His research is on the impact of early nutrition on developmental outcome of infants, specifically studying the cellular and molecular mechanisms of placental iron transport and the neurologic sequelae of perinatal iron deficiency. He is supported by grants from the NIH (NICHD, and NINDS, NHLBI). Dr. Georgieff is also the Exeuctive Vice Chair of the Department of Pediatrics.

Tate Gisslen, MD

Dr. Gisslen iis studying the effects of intrauterine inflammation/infection on both short term and long‐term neurodevelopmental outcomes. He is a CHRC scholar and his research is funded by the Viking's Children's Fund and NIH CHRCDA K12.

Sixto F. Guiang, III, MD

Dr. Guiang’s research focuses on clinical issues associated with ECMO.

Dana E. Johnson, MD, PhD

Dr. Johnson investigates the short‐ and long‐term medical and developmental effects of early childhood institutionalization and the outcome of children adopted internationally. Of particular interest is the relationship between stress and somatic/brain growth. His work is supported by the Minnesota Medical Foundation, the Viking Children’s Fund, the NIH, and Genentec. He is also a member of the CNBD.

Heidi Kamrath, DO

Dr. Kamrath joined the CHCM-SP faculty in 2016. She has a certificate in Pediatic Bioethics leading to the development of research projects focused on perinatal palliative care. She has also developed resident curriculum on bioethics. 2016-19 she will participate in the Young Physicians’ Leadership Alliance through the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Section on Early Career Physicians.

Andrea Lampland, MD

Dr. Lampland performs translational research regarding neonatal ventilation and short-term pulmonary physiology. She performs investigatorinitiated local clinical studies in the NICU and utilizes a piglet model of RDS/ALI in her animal lab in the Infant Diagnostic and Research Center at CHCM‐SP. Her work has been funded by industry and the Children’s Hospital Internal Research Grant Program.

Erin Osterholm, MD

Dr. Osterholm's primary area of research includes the effects of stress on the developing brain, especially alterations in the hypothalamic‐ pituitaryadrenal axis. She works in collaboration with members of the Institute of Child Development and Center for Neurobehavioral Development on research examining the HPA axis and nutrition in small for gestational age infants. Dr. Osterholm also has an interest in neonatal resuscitation education and is a member of the NICU Simulation Core Team leading simulation based learning for residents and fellows.

Kathleen Pfister, MD

Dr. Pfister joined the faculty in 2013. Her research interests are in studying early neurodevelopmental outcomes of high‐risk preterm and term infants using ERP technology to evaluate memory function and speed of brain processing. She has evaluated memory function outcomes at various ages in term infants with HIE, and has also studied speed of visual processing in preterm infants as it relates to body composition and early nutrition.

Erin Plummer, MD

Dr. Plummer joined the faculty at Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota - St. Paul in 2018. Her research interests include growth, body composition, and neurodevelopmental outcomes in children requiring neonatal surgery. 

Sara Ramel, MD

Dr. Ramel is involved in several clinical research projects and is a faculty member in the Center for Neurobehavioral Development. Her research interests are in growth and nutrition of preterm infants and their impact on long‐term developmental outcomes. Specifically, she is focused on early body composition changes and the effect of nutritional manipulations and illness on these changes, as well as the long‐term effects of these changes on later body composition and cognition. She is currently funded by the University of MN “R” award, the March of Dimes and the Minnesota Obesity Center.

Raghavendra Rao, MD

Dr. Rao is a core faculty member and Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee at the Center for Neurobehavioral Development and is a Senior Faculty in the Graduate Program in Neuroscience. His research focus is regional brain development under typical and adverse perinatal conditions. He is specifically interested in understanding the effects of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia, iron deficiency, chronic hypoxia, acute hypoxia‐ischemia on the developing brain regions in various animal models. He utilizes high‐field NMR spectroscopy, behavioral assessment, molecular analysis and histochemical analysis in his research, which is funded by the NICHD, and Viking Children’s Fund. He is the site-investigator for the multicenter Preterm Erythropoietin for Neuroprotection (PENUT) trial funded by the NINDS.

Kari Roberts, MD

Dr Roberts is the Director of NICU Clinical Research. Her research area of interest is neonatal resuscitation and invasive procedures. She is currently Principle Investigator of a national, multi-center, randomized controlled trial investigating the use of the Laryngeal Mask Airway for Surfactant Administration in Neonates. Dr Roberts is also the Director of NICU Simulation Training and has developed neonatal simulation labs and advanced procedural skills workshops for residents, fellows and neonatal nurse practitioners.

Johannah Scheurer, MD

Dr. Scheurer's academic time focuses on both medical education and clinical research. She is the director of medical student and resident rotations on the UMMCH NICU and works in collaboration with the medical school and residency programs (Pediatrics and Medicine-Pediatrics) on these offerings. This includes quality improvement work related to neonatal resuscitation simulation programming and the neonatal fellows' engagement in house staff and student education. She works with the medical school in efforts to build and enhance competency-based assessment. She also collaborates with Dr. Ramel with clinical trials looking at long-term metabolic and neurodevelopmental outcomes related to growth and body composition.

Phu Tran, PhD 

Dr. Tran’s research focuses on the effects of early-life adversity on brain development and function. He collaborates extensively with Drs. Georgieff and Rao to establish molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the long-term effects of nutrient deficiency during late fetal and early postnatal life. Currently, his lab is specifically focused on the role of epigenetics in the long-term gene dysregulation associated with early-life iron deficiency. He is also interested in the function of a novel protein (TMEM35/NACHO), which has recently identified as an important factor for neuronal expression of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). Dysfunction of nAChRs has been implicated in various neurological disorders including Autism, Schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, and neuropathic pain. His work has been supported by the Vikings’ Children Fund, Minnesota Medical Foundation, Masonic Children’s Hospital Research Fund, Department of Pediatrics “R” Award, and NINDS R01. Additional interests in Dr. Tran lab include identification of serum markers and epigenetic signatures of cord blood derived-stem cells from neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) babies (a collaboration with Dr. Asha Siddappa) to index long-term risks of abnormal neurodevelopment.

Jameel Winter, MD

Dr. Winter joined the faculty in 2017 and is interested in improving neonatal care in low and middle income countries through implementation of resuscitation and early neonatal care training programs, as well as other globally targeted education programs. His research has focused on early childhood malnutrition in rural Cambodia, and he is interested in environmental enteropathy. He is also interested in utilization of simulation for medical education. During fellowship, he was involved in the planning and implementation of a multicenter RCT of a novel resuscitation technique for extremely preterm infants.