President: Danielle Christifano, PhD
Dr. Christifano is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition at the University of Kansas Medical Center where her research focuses on maternal nutrition (e.g. DHA supplementation), preterm birth, and child neurodevelopment. She completed her Masters and PhD in Medical Nutrition Sciences at the University of Kansas Medical Center, after which she completed training in fetal and infant electrophysiology under Dr. Kathleen Gustafson at the Hoglund Biomedical Imaging Center and prenatal DHA supplementation under Dr. Susan Carlson. She has served on the US DOHaD Council since its inception and is honored to currently serve as the US DOHaD President, where she aims to foster a community of scientists and clinicians who share a common goal of optimizing the health and wellbeing of mothers, children, and families. She led planning efforts for the 2022 and 2023 scientific meetings and is working with the leadership team to make the 2024 meeting a success! In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children (ages 2 and 5), gardening, cooking, and being outside.
Vice President: Kaela Varberg, PhD
Dr. Kaela Varberg is an Independent Investigator in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology at the Children’s Mercy Research Institute in Kansas City, MO. Dr. Varberg’s graduate training was based in reproductive biology with an emphasis on cell physiology and developmental origins of health and disease. She received her doctoral degree in Cellular and Integrative Physiology from the Indiana University School of Medicine. Dr. Varberg’s postdoctoral training remained within reproductive biology, but with a new emphasis on trophoblast cell lineage development and placentation. She completed her postdoctoral training at the University of Kansas Medical Center where she expanded her expertise from primary patient cell culture to human trophoblast stem cell culture and mutant rat models. Dr. Varberg remains fascinated by maternal/fetal interaction during pregnancy and the impact of abnormal placentation-based pregnancy complications on fetal and child health outcomes. The Varberg laboratory incorporates next-generation sequencing approaches to identify genetic and environmental (epigenetic) factors impacting placental development and function in the setting of pregnancy complications and disease. Dr. Varberg has been a member of the US DOHaD Society since its inception in 2016 and has attended every annual meeting of the Society. She has served on the US DOHaD Society Leadership council as a Trainee Representative from 2018-2020, as Treasurer from 2022-2024, and currently serves as Vice President for the 2024-2026 term. She is excited to continue her service on the leadership council with the 2024-2026 term goal of growing the Society membership.
Secretary: Erin Madriago, MD, FASE
Dr. Erin Madriago is an Associate Professor in Pediatrics at Oregon Health & Science University. She obtained a BA in Anthropology, and subsequently went on to obtain her medical degree and become a pediatric and fetal cardiologist with extensive training in developmental, fetal and pediatric biology. She has been the medical director of the OHSU fetal cardiology program for the last twelve years. During that time, she has developed deep research interests in the pre- and post-natal care of children with congenital heart disease (CHD). Her current research includes 1) The impact of psychological stress with a diagnosis of a significant fetal anomaly on the pregnant patient/fetal dyad including the effect on cortisol production; 2) Assessing the ongoing relationship between preeclampsia and the development of fetal CHD across multiple pregnancies; 3) Examining the impact on placental flow dynamics for pregnancies associated with fetal CHD and other anomalies. Since 2022, she has been a Bob and Charlee Moore Institute for Nutrition and Wellness Faculty Scholar for the Moore Institute whose scientific cornerstone is set in the discipline of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease. Besides being introduced to DOHaD through her mentor Kent Thornburg, Erin’s first true exposure to the society was at the DOHaD World Congress in 2022 where she was incredibly excited to find a place to connect with so many different people in so many different fields with a common goal of understanding how the complex world of exposures during pregnancy, developmental biology and pregnant patient/fetal physiology impacts long-term health and disease. As a clinician and researcher who lives and works within the intersection of maternal-fetal medicine and pediatrics, Erin is constantly thinking about the clinical side of the developmental origins of disease. She is very excited to serve as Secretary for the Council and continue to advance this important work.
Treasurer: Banu Gumusoglu, PhD
Dr. Gumusoglu is an Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Psychiatry at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. Her research focuses on the placenta-brain axis, and in particular on the molecular mechanisms by which obstetric disease increases risk for psychiatric disease in pregnant people and in the next generation. She completed her PhD in Neuroscience with Dr. Hanna Stevens at the University of Iowa, and a postdoctoral fellowship in Reproductive Science with Dr. Mark Santillan at the Carver College of Medicine. She looks forward to serving as Treasurer of the US DOHaD Society and contributing to the continued growth of this unique, interdisciplinary society. Her work with DOHaD is motivated by her passion for mentorship of diverse trainees, creating collaboration across fields, and growing recognition for the importance of prenatal life in shaping health across the lifespan.
Faculty Representative: Alina Maloyan, PhD
Dr. Alina Maloyan earned her Ph.D. in physiology from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She holds an Associate Professor position in the Knight Cardiovascular Institute at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), where she and her research group investigate how maternal obesity affects placental function and makes the offspring vulnerable to metabolic and cardiovascular diseases later in life, a phenomenon called developmental programming. In the United States, more than 65% of women are either overweight or obese when they become pregnant. Maternal obesity increases the risk of negative pregnancy outcomes, leading to preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and stillbirth. Even more concerning, in-utero exposure to maternal obesity causes long-term changes in the offspring’s immune, cardiovascular, and metabolic functions, leading to obesity and chronic diseases in adult life. Dr. Maloyan’s research interests include the mechanisms of immune, metabolic, physiological, and epigenetic processes occurring as a result of exposure to maternal obesity.
Faculty Representative: Sathish Kumar Natarajan, PhD
Dr. Sathish Kumar Natarajan is a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutrition & Health Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and my research focus is to improve the outcome of newborn in mothers infected with Zika virus (ZIKV), maternal obesity, and preeclampsia and to establish dietary nutrient intervention to prevent adverse maternal-fetal outcomes. He has a broad background and expertise in studying the mechanism of cell injury with ZIKV infection, protective nutrient signaling and apoptotic signaling pathways, mitochondrial function, and mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation disorders. His long-term goal is to develop a safe dietary nutrient approach to mother during pregnancy to mitigate Developmental Origins of Health and Disease. He has 52 peer-reviewed publications, 1 book chapter, among which 20 are first-authored and 13 corresponding author publications. These articles have been placed in journals like Hepatology, Cell Death & Discovery, Journal of Lipid Research, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, and Journal of Virology. He has been cited in 2,129 documents including editorial comments (Source: Scopus.com, ID#9035955300; h-index:21). He has recently been invited to serve as an editor-in chief for a topic issue on ‘Novel Therapeutic Nutrient Molecules’ which is part of Biomedicines, Nutrients, Current Issues in Molecular Biology, Reports and Metabolites Journals.
ECHO Representative: Linda Adair, PhD
Dr. Linda Adair is Professor of Nutrition at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC-CH, a Fellow at the Carolina Population Center, and Honorary Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. She earned her PhD in Biological Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, and completed a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship for Studies at the Interface of Biology and Demography at the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH). Adair is part of the faculty for the Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program Coordinating Center, where she has had a key role in the Opportunities and Innovative Fund to support early career investigators. Her research focuses on maternal and child nutrition, in particular, the determinants and consequences of infant and early childhood feeding and growth patterns, and the developmental origins of adult health. She has led the Cebu (Philippines) Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey for more than 30 years, and has been a collaborator on research in China, South Africa, Rwanda, and Malawi, all of which feed her passion for global travel. Her methodological focus is on the design and implementation of population-based health/demographic/nutrition surveys and the application of longitudinal epidemiologic and structural models to health outcome research.
Trainee Representative: Megan Beetch, PhD
Dr. Megan Beetch is a postdoctoral researcher working with Dr. Emilyn Alejandro at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology. Her current research is focused on maternal health, placental nutrient sensor pathways, and programming of the offspring cardiometabolic health trajectory using mouse models of maternal obesity and deletion of placental nutrient sensor proteins. Previously, she completed her PhD in Nutrition Science with Dr. Barbara Stefanska at the University of British Columbia where she studied epigenetic mechanisms of anti-cancer effects of dietary stilbenoids. She is very excited to be a US DOHaD trainee representative because she enjoys interacting with trainees at all levels and being a part of a team with a common goal.
Trainee Representative: Kyle Siemers, BS
Kyle Siemers is a MD/PhD Candidate at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine. Currently pursuing her dissertation research under the mentorship of Michelle Baack MD, she is interested in understanding how gestational diabetes and its treatment alters transport, storage, and metabolism of fatty acids in the placenta to influence development and lifelong health. With aspirations to specialize in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Kyle is also interested in outcomes and recommendations for diabetic pregnancies, especially in populations disproportionately at risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes. Serving as a trainee representative on the US DOHaD Society Council, Kyle brings her passion for early exposure to networking, mentoring, and collaboration. Her goal is to broaden the Society’s trainee membership, providing more future physicians and scientists with the opportunity to learn from and contribute to an excellent and energetic society.
Alysha Everett is a PhD student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She received her bachelor’s degrees in Nutrition and BioHealth Science from Oregon State University and her master’s degree in Nutrition Sciences from UAB, where she began working with her current mentor Paula Chandler-Laney. Her research interests include intergenerational health disparities and understanding how fetal and placental development influence long-term risk for disease. Currently Alysha is investigating differences in placental efficiency among children born to women with obesity, with or without gestational diabetes.
Annemarie (Anna) Carver is a third-year Genetics PhD student at the University of Iowa in Dr. Hanna Steven’s lab. Anna received a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in Biology, where she began her research career in developmental genetics. Currently, Anna is studying the influence of placental genetics on fetal neurodevelopment in mice. Anna is particularly interested in placental Igf-1 expression and how it may be relevant to autism spectrum disorder.
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