Developing Brain Institute
News & updates
May 11, 2021. Volume 6, Issue 1
PCORI awards $4.2M to the Developing Brain Institute
Twice as many low-income African American women experience maternal mental distress (stress, depression and anxiety), and the health disparity has been magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Experiencing mental health concerns can lead to negative effects on health for both mother and her baby and changes the infant’s developing brain in worrisome ways. Yet low-income Black women are less likely to receive screening or have available treatment during this critical period - especially in the District of Columbia. A new $4.2 million award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute will enable us to partner with former patients, moms with experience giving birth in D.C., and other members of low-income Black communities to develop and test different approaches to overcome obstacles and achieve health equity by providing effective mental health screening and care.
DC Perinatal Consortium: Developing a focused research roadmap
Catherine Limperopoulos, Ph.D., has been the driving force behind establishing the DC Perinatal Consortium - clinicians, scientists and collaborators uniquely situated in the District who are tackling health issues of relevance to District residents, like health disparities. The DC Perinatal Consortium brings together leading physicians and scientists from across disciplines and hospitals to advance clinical research in maternal and child health and to develop a focused clinical research roadmap.
Research spotlight: PAS 2021
Research-scientists at the Developing Brain Institute and our collaborators had 16 abstracts selected for the Pediatric Academic Societies 2021 Virtual Meeting. Our presenters:


Stacey Gold, M.D.

DC-wide Community Network for Mother Baby Wellness
The evidence is overwhelming that perinatal mental health concerns are common, often undetected and undertreated, and negatively impact the health and wellness of both mom and baby. To reverse those troubling trends, the Developing Brain Institute at Children’s National is convening Clark Foundation-funded DC-wide Community Network for Mother Baby Wellness work group meetings to lay the critical foundation for building universal perinatal mental health screening and response across D.C. The robust conversations, facilitated by Catherine Limperopoulos, Ph.D., and Zavi Brees-Saunders, MPH, include Initiative partners from Community of Hope, Georgetown University, the George Washington University, Howard University, Mary’s Center, MedStar, Sibley Memorial Hospital and Unity Healthcare. Stay tuned for results from the DC Mother Baby Wellness Initiative surveys, which document what’s working well as well as identify opportunities for needed improvement in perinatal mental health screening and resources for D.C. moms and babies.
Participate in our innovative research
We’re continuing to update our website. Check out the new features, including a digital album featuring images of volunteers in Project RESCUE and other studies.
News coverage of our research team
ICYMI: Catherine Limperopoulos, Ph.D., Director of the Developing Brain Institute at Children’s National, presented during the International Society for Autism Research 2021 panel, “Etiologies of atypical prenatal development in autism spectrum disorder and implications for early treatment. Dr. Limperopoulos’ presentation was covered by Spectrum News in their May 7 story,Fetal brain scans may forecast autism traits in toddlers.”

Other recent news coverage:

PR Newswire: Children’s National awarded $4.2M by PCORI (April 6, 2021)
(March 31, 2021)

Contemporary Ob/Gyn: Prenatal maternal distress impairs newborn amygdala growth (Jan. 30, 2021)
The Developing Brain Institute at Children’s National, directed by Catherine Limperopoulos, Ph.D., focuses on the developing brain, both in utero and shortly after birth. We are developing advanced MRI techniques to examine the structure, connectivity and metabolism of the brain in ways that cannot be done with conventional MRI studies. Our long-term goal is to be able to identify babies with impaired brain growth as soon as possible, so that proper interventions and clinical planning can take place earlier.