Developing Brain Institute
Quarterly news & updates
Sept. 15, 2020. Volume 5, Issue 2
Sept. 15-18, 2020: National Maternal & Infant Health Summit
In advance of this year’s virtual Summit, a preview video showcases how transformative funding can lead to improved health outcomes for D.C. mothers and babies. The A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation is investing in major regional hospitals and community-based care providers in Washington, D.C., with the aim of achieving a broader, collective vision of improved maternal and child health outcomes. The Clark Foundation’s leading investments support Children’s National Hospital’s Clark Parent & Child Network and MedStar Health’s DC Safe Babies Safe Moms initiative. Children’s National and MedStar will collaborate to share findings, progress and lessons learned with our community partners, the Washington, D.C., region and the nation.
WATCH presummit video
REGISTER for Mayor Muriel Bowser's 2020 National Maternal & Infant Health Summit
Catherine Limperopoulos, Ph.D., Director, Developing Brain Institute at
Children's National
Assistant Vice President, Healthcare Delivery Research
MedStar Health Research Institute
Lee S. Beers, M.D., Medical Director for Community Health and Advocacy at Children's National
ICYMI: Topics in Prenatal Pediatrics
Topics in Prenatal Pediatrics, a monthly lecture series, features subject matter experts from Children's National Hospital and beyond who facilitate the discussion of compelling topics in the field of prenatal and transitional medicine.
“Normal and abnormal development of the fetal cerebral venous system.”
Jonathan G. Murnick, M.D., Ph.D., Children’s National Neuroradiologist

“Do maternal stress and depression affect fetal brain development?”
Catherine Limperopoulos, Ph.D., Director, Developing Brain Institute at Children’s National
Participate in our innovative research
El Proyecto RESCUE
El proyecto RESCUE se refiere a reducir el estrés elevado durante la exposición a COVID-19 y la mayoría de las intervenciones del estudio se pueden hacer desde la comodidad de su hogar. En este estudio de investigación, nuestro equipo aprovechará su dominio de los sofisticados estudios de resonancia magnética para identificar los riesgos de la angustia psicológica materna relacionada con la COVID-19 que cambia la forma en que se desarrolla el cerebro de su bebé durante el embarazo y después del nacimiento. 
Research spotlight
A Children’s National Hospital research team led by Sudeepta Kumar Basu, M.D., for the first time reports that early ex-utero cerebellar metabolic profiles correlate with emerging functional connectivity and neurobehavior scores. The researchers postulate that higher metabolite levels likely reflect increased neuronal density and maturation, which in turn correlate with higher connectivity and neurobehavioral scores at term. Altered cerebellar metabolism and connectivity may serve as an early biomarker for neurological impairment before irreversible injury is established. “Cerebellar biochemistry, connectivity and neurobehavior in very preterm infants” was featured in the Pediatric Academic Societies' Neonatology summer webinar series.
A research team led by Josepheen De Asis-Cruz examined brain connectivity using resting state functional MRI in 25 very premature infants. They found the cingulate cortex, medial temporal lobe, and the basal ganglia shared the strongest connections. In premature infants, connections involving superior temporal, hippocampal, and occipital areas - among others - were stronger compared with fetuses. Premature infants showed stronger connectivity in sensory input and stress-related areas of their brains, which suggests leaving the protection of the womb prematurely alters development of select neural networks.
Honor Roll recognition
U.S. News & World Report in mid-June released its annual Best Children's Hospital rankings, and Children's National Hospital ranked No. 1 in the nation for newborn care for the fourth year in a row. We're also in the Top 10, an Honor Roll reserved for the best overall children's hospitals. READ MORE
News coverage of our research team
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.