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Class of 2023, First Year Fellows

Sandra Aziz, MD

Undergraduate | University of Texas at El Paso
Post-Graduate | Texas Tech University School of Medicine – El Paso
Residency | University of New Mexico 
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Clinical and Research Interests | Evaluating the feasibility of role playing for fellows to practice skills for giving serious news using a virtual platform. In this pilot study, trainees (neonatal and obstetrics/gynecology fellows) will be video recorded while participating in a simulation scenario with a standardized patient to learn skills for delivering serious news. In each session, one neonatal fellow and one obstetrics/gynecology fellow will be selected to give serious news to the standardized patient, and the remaining will observe and debrief after the session. Descriptive statistics will be used for numeric data obtained from the survey. For open-ended answers, thematic analysis will be utilized.  

Jennifer Barnard, MD

Undergraduate | University of California, Los Angeles
Post-Graduate | Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California
Residency | University of California, San Diego
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Clinical and Research Interests | To evaluate the impact of prenatal and maternal characteristics, neonatal practices, post-NICU medical care, and outcomes for children born prematurely with and without BPD. To identify risk factors for development of BPD and to characterize subtypes of BPD.

Keriann Schulkers Escalante, DO, MPH

Undergraduate | University of Minnesota
Post-Graduate | Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine – Virginia Campus
Residency | Inova Children’s Hospital
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Clinical and Research Interests | In collaboration with the Center for Microbiome Innovation, her scholarly project study proposes to use milk, saliva and stool samples collected from a cohort of preterm infants from the study: "The Association Between Milk Feedings, the Microbiome and Risk of Atopic Disease in the Preterm Population (MAP) Study." 

Class of 2022, Second Year Fellows

Emily Batton, MD

Undergraduate | University of California, Los Angeles
Post-graduate | Rush Medical College of Rush University Medical Center
Residency | University of Chicago - Comer Children's Hospital
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Clinical and Research Interests | As a non-native Spanish speaking medical provider, Dr. Batton is interested in investigating how language differences between medical providers and parents of NICU patients affects parental satisfaction and newborn health outcomes. Literature has shown that Spanish speaking NICU parents with limited English proficiency are four times more likely to misunderstand their child’s diagnosis and feel less technically and emotionally prepared at NICU discharge compared to English speaking parents. However, little is known about their experience with communication in the NICU. Along with Dr. Krishelle Marc-Aurele, Dr. Batton plans to interview Spanish-speaking parents with a baby admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit about their experiences with communication in the NICU. Quantitative and qualitative analysis will be performed to examine challenges that prevent Spanish-speaking parents from learning about and participating in their child’s care. Guidance will be provided by Samantha Hurst, PhD, MA ,a medical anthropologist and Professor of qualitative methods and mixed methods research design for UCSD’s Public Health and Doctoral Programs. 

Samantha Hietalati, MD

Undergraduate | Hamline University
Post-graduate | University of Minnesota Medical School
Residency | Louisiana State University
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Clinical and Research Interests | Through the Center for Perinatal Discovery at UCSD, Dr. Hietalati is using maternal pregnancy data and placental pathology to evaluate for sex-specific differences in neonatal clinical outcomes. The project will focus on pregnancies under stress, including maternal conditions like obesity, hypertensive disorders, and diabetes. Dr. Hietalati is working with multiple departments at UCSD, including her mentor, Dr. Mana Parast from Pathology, Dr. Marni Jacobs from OB/Gyn, and Dr. Sandra Leibel from Neonatology. 

Meghana Karmarkar, MD

Undergraduate | University of California, Los Angeles
Post-graduate | Rush Medical College of Rush University Medical Center
Residency | University of California, Los Angeles
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Clinical and Research Interests | Dr. Karmarkar focuses her research on quality improvement (QI) and patient safety. Currently, she is creating and implementing a clinical pathway to screen and manage NICU patients that are at risk for neonatal delirium. The NICU at Rady Children's Hospital has a unique population comprised of medically complex patients that have prolonged hospitalizations. These patients are often on multiple medications for pain and sedation, and require mechanical ventilation for extended periods of time - these factors, which if combined with an underlying acute illness, can lead to neonatal delirium. Although delirium is widely recognized in adult and pediatrics ICUs, it is not commonly diagnosed in the neonatal population. The goals of her QI project are to increase neonatal delirium screening rates for NICU patients and to decrease the overall use of benzodiazepine and opioid medications. Dr. Karmarkar is working with Dr. Laurel Moyer and Dr. Willough Jenkins on this project, who are providing their expertise in the areas of quality improvement and child psychiatry, respectively. Through this project, Dr. Karmarkar hopes to further her knowledge on QI methodology and how processes can be implemented in the healthcare system to improve patient outcomes.

Class of 2021, Third Year Fellows

Shiyu (Sherry) Bai-Tong, MD

Undergraduate | University of Southern California, Los Angeles
Post-graduate | Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Residency | Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital
Email |

Clinical and Research Interests |  Dr. Bai-Tong is interested the relationship between the preterm microbiome and feeding in the NICU as it impacts their risk of developing atopic disease later in life. Studies have shown term infants who later developed atopy can demonstrate transient gut dysbiosis during the first 3 months of life and that breastfeeding is protective. However, the impact of feeding type and the specific microbial pattern in allergy-prone preterm infants has not been studied. Her project Microbiome, Atopic Disease, and Prematurity (MAP Study) follows gut, oral and milk feed microbiome patterns in preterm infants during their NICU course and after discharge home, to discover patterns of the microbiome associated with the development of allergic sensitization patterns. She also studies the presence of non-human allergic peptides in milk feeds, as predictors for developing allergic sensitization in premature infants. 

She is co-mentored by Dr. Sandra Leibel from neonatology and Dr. Sydney Leibel from Allergy & Immunology while collaborating with multiple labs on UCSD campus including Dr. Rob Knight (microbiome), Dr. Jack Gilbert (microbiome), and Dr. Majid Ghassemian (proteomics).

Rebecca Carter, MD

Undergraduate | University of Georgia
Post-graduate | Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University
Residency | UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland
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Clinical and Research Interests | TBD

Pamela Del Rosario, MD

Undergraduate | University of California, Irvine
Post-graduate | Ross University School of Medicine, Dominica
Residency | Maimonides Medical Center
Email |
Clinical and Research Interests | Basic Science Research: Prince Lab with Dr. Lance
Prince and Graduate Researcher Sean Lund to investigate the molecular mechanisms that prevent the newborn lung immune system from detecting GBS. Results will identify new potential therapeutic strategies and approaches for treating newborn pneumonia.  QI Project: CPQCC Simulating Success project with Dr. Erika Fernandez to implement simulation-based neonatal resuscitation training programs in our NICU with the goal of improving resuscitation team performance during preterm and term deliveries.