Mestan Lab

​Welcome to the Mestan Lab!

Dr. Karen Mestan is the Division Chief of Neonatology at UC San Diego/Rady Children's Hospital and the Principal Investigator of the Mestan Lab at UCSD. She received her B.A. in Human Biology from Stanford University and her M.D. from Chicago Medical School. She completed her residency and fellowship at the University of Chicago and spent nearly 20 years at Northwestern University as a neonatologist caring for high-risk newborn infants in the NICU and building a research biorepository of placenta and cord blood before moving to UCSD in Fall 2021. The Mestan Lab engages in "perinatal origins of disease research at the maternal-fetal-neonatal interface" in which we seek to understand how early life maternal and placental exposures program the developing fetus and the transition to extrauterine life. Through this research, we seek to elucidate novel biochemical, environmental, and epigenetic pathways that will lead to the development of new bedside approaches for predicting, preventing, and managing complex medical conditions in high-risk infants. Check out for more information!

Lab Focus: Translational Research in Neonatal Lung Disease

Our lab focuses on elucidating complex developmental mechanisms of neonatal cardiopulmonary diseases such as bronchopulmonary dysplasia and neonatal pulmonary hypertension.  Unique to our approach, we integrate bedside clinical findings and perinatal biospecimens collected from high-risk births, with traditional and novel laboratory approaches.  Ongoing projects that focus on mechanisms of "placental-lung crosstalk" include:

The Role of Placental Maternal Vascular Malperfusion in Neonatal Pulmonary Hypertension:  The goal of this project is to elucidate the mechanism by which placental vascular disease leads to the pulmonary vascular disease through investigation of a humanized mouse model combined with in vitro studies of cord blood-derived fetal monocytes, RNA-seq and transcriptomics.  

Cord Blood Adductomics in Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia:  The goal of this project is to apply protein adductomics and cord blood metabolomics to identify novel exposure biomarkers of oxidative stress associated with neonatal chronic lung disease. 

Integrating Environmental Cues at the Maternal-Fetal Vascular Interface:  The goal of this project is to elucidate the mechanisms by which in vitro fertilization (IVF) alters feto-placental metabolism and glycolytic flux in mice and humans.  

Center for Perinatal Discovery 

Dr. Mestan is a co-director of the Center for Perinatal Discovery (CPD) at UCSD. This core hosts an interdisciplinary team of physicians and scientists focused on basic and translational research projects related to maternal and fetal health. Visit to learn more!

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