​​Current Research

​One of the primary goals of our division and the shared vision of all our faculty and staff is to provide better care, health, and outcomes for infants. To promote this goal, we support a range of investigator initiated and sponsor initiated research focused on improving health for infants today and tomorrow. Find out more about some of the active research within the Division of Neonatology by contacting our Neonatal Clinical Research Team at NICUresearch@ucsd.edu or NICUresearch@rchsd.org.


Research by Division Faculty

Lawrence (Lance) Prince, MD, PhD

  • Mechanisms linking lung inflammation and abnormal development in bronchopulmonary dysplasia
  • Developmental biology of lung macrophages
  • Development of novel imaging approaches for understanding neonatal lung disease.

Lars Bode, PhD

  • Biosynthesis and physiological function of human milk oligosaccharides
  • Role of breast milk and unbound complex glycans in development of the intestinal innate immune response.
  • Development of oligosaccharide based therapies to prevent infectious disease and necrotizing enterocolitis.

David Golembeski, MD

  • Board member for the National Children’s Study.
  • Co-PI for the Boston University Birth Defects Monitoring Project.

Jose Honold, MD

  • Clinical innovation and interventions that improve outcome in critically ill neonates at highest risk of neurodevelopmental impairment.

Krishelle Leong Marc-Aurele, MD

  • Development of novel approaches for counseling families in the prenatal and postnatal setting as part of a multi-disciplinary palliative care model developed specifically for  newborns.


Active Clinical Trials

Omega-3 LCPUFA Supplementation in Very Low Birthweight Infants for the Prevention of Retinopathy of Prematurity: Prospective Randomized Controlled Masked Clinical Trial with Lipidomic and Transcriptomic Analyses
Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a blinding disease affecting infants born prematurely. These infants do not have enough essential fatty acids to structurally support the retina, the nerve tissue in the eye which allows us to see. A recent study showed that giving omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids to these infants soon after birth made them less likely to need invasive treatments for eye disease. We intend to give young infants born prematurely with n-3 fish oil treatment and look at how this changes factors in the blood that promote disease. We will do detailed blood studies comparing infants with and without ROP and will follow these infants over time to assess their eye development.


Human Milk and Milk Components

UCSD Human Milk Biorepository
Breastfeeding is a recommended and encouraged practice in all cases where possible for the first months to a year of life according to the Centers for Disease Control's U.S. Healthy People 2020 guidelines.  The benefits of breast milk in terms of cognitive development, growth, and protection against disease have been documented; however, there is much to be learned about the mechanisms whereby breast milk is of benefit to the infant, how the caloric and other nutrient content of breast milk varies by mother, and if and what changes in breast milk components occur with various conditions and lengths of storage.  In addition, for many medications that might be taken by women, there is little to no information available on potential magnitude and consequences of infant exposure while breastfeeding.  As a result, women are often advised not to breastfeed if taking a medication, or may avoid breastfeeding themselves for lack of information.  Conversely, some drugs are known to pass into breast milk and can compromise infant health (e.g., opioids in a susceptible subpopulation) and a better understanding of which medications should be avoided in women who are breastfeeding (or avoidance of breastfeeding is advisable) is important to the health of infants.  A multidisciplinary group of investigators at UCSD/Rady Children's Hospital have identified this as a group of topic areas that could benefit greatly from access to a shared resource represented by the Repository. Mother/baby dyads are now being enrolled both in the community and among inpatient populations in order to grow a repository of several thousand breast milk samples with along with pertinent medical information about both mother and baby.

Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMO) in Maternal Urine throughout Pregnancy
Human milk oligosaccharides (HMO) are a diverse group of complex sugars that are found in large amounts in breast milk and are relatively unique to humans. HMO are also found in the urine of pregnant women; as early as the end of the first trimester. It has not yet been described whether inter-and intra-individual variations in HMO composition occur.  Also, whether or not the HMO composition in the urine of pregnant women (antepartum) corresponds to the HMO composition in the milk post-partum has not been characterized. In addition, it is currently unknown whether or not HMO also appear in amniotic fluid and cord blood. Potentially, HMO can be protective against infection, which is a major cause of prematurity. For this study, we are collecting urine samples from pregnant women, and later their infants, as well as amniotic fluid samples, cord blood samples, and breast milk samples to measure the content of HMO. We are also collecting information about preterm delivery, maternal urine infection, and Group B Streptococcus colonization, as well as chorioamnionitis to assess the incidence of these conditions to allow for planning of future studies to potentially correlate certain HMO with risk of the aforementioned conditions.