Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine; Pediatrics; Behavioral Medicine; Nutrition
My primary research focus is on infant health, specifically infant nutrition and physical activity and enriched home environments. My research aims to identify how infant-toddler eating behaviors affect obesity later in life and how early interventions can protect those at risk from obesity. Ultimately, my work will help promote healthy, active lifestyles for families. The motivation to eat varies among individuals. As food is more reinforcing to individuals with obesity, studying the origin of food reinforcement can provide important steps in obesity prevention. I strive to understand the causes of infant obesity and preventative measures that will decrease the risk of obesity during infancy and later life stages. My laboratory recently developed a paradigm to measure infants’ motivation to eat compared to their motivation to engage in other activities. This paradigm uses a computerized task during which infants press a button to earn reward in the form of the infant’s favorite food and a non-food alternative (e.g., playing with bubbles, listening to music). My studies suggest that the reinforcing value of the non-food alternative may drive the motivation to eat, thus infancy weight gain. To support the importance of the reinforcing value of non-food alternatives, my colleagues and I have shown that strengthening the non-food alternative at home can reduce the motivation of food. I am also currently involved in a large, randomized-control trial funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to examine the effect of a two-year music enhancement program on altering infants’ motivation to eat. I mentor students from UB’s Honors College and its pre-medicine and nutritional sciences programs. I invite interested students to work with me in my research, including data collection and preparation. I help students develop their research, analytical and writing skills to prepare them for their professional goals. Students who work with me on research projects also will gain experience in interpersonal interaction by working with families who participate in my studies.
Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine; Neonatology; Pediatrics
As chief of the Division of Neonatology in the Department of Pediatrics, I oversee and provide delivery of specialized, family-centered, advanced medical care to critically ill preterm and term newborn infants as well as support to their families. My practice is located in Western New York’s most advanced Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), at the Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. I also practice at the Level II NICU at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital. As the director of the Center for Developmental Biology of the Lung, my research focuses on the pathophysiology of the cardiopulmonary transition – how fetal lungs change, at birth, to breathe air – and disorders of this transition, such as birth asphyxia, PPHN, retained lung liquid and respiratory distress syndrome. My laboratory’s translational research aims primarily at preventing and treating these disorders with optimal neonatal resuscitation techniques, steroids, nitric oxide, surfactant and judicious use of oxygen. I have an interest in managing newborn infants with hypoxic respiratory failure and persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) and have investigated the role oxygen-free radicals, nitric oxide and antioxidants play in the pathogenesis and management of PPHN. I currently focus on optimal strategies for neonatal resuscitation. My division is part of the Neonatal Research Network of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – a group of 15 academic neonatal centers conducting multicenter trials with the goal of improving outcomes in sick preterm and term neonates. Together, we work to transfer innovative discoveries from our laboratory to the bedside through clinical trials, improving outcomes for this vulnerable population. I am a committed professor and mentor to trainees. I received the “Mentor of the Year 2016” award from the Eastern Society for Pediatric Research ‘in recognition of sustained excellence as an educator and mentor of medical students, pediatricians-in-training, and pediatric faculty.’ I work with medical students, residents from the departments of Pediatrics and Obstetrics and Gynecology and pediatric neurology fellows from neonatal-perinatal medicine -- many of whom do not have prior exposure to research. I welcome them to work with me and introduce them to exciting opportunities in translational and clinical research. As a result, my mentees have won prestigious national and school awards as well as competitive grants from the NIH and national organizations. Seeing my mentees succeed is the most rewarding aspect of my academic career.