Current Postdoctoral Scholars

Sota Iwatani

PhD: Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine in Kobe City, Japan

Mentor: David Stevenson, MD

Research: My research focuses on improving the developmental outcomes of preterm infants, and I am interested in the role of increased bilirubin production in the neonatal period. At Kobe University, I studied hyperbilirubinemia in preterm infants and established a novel method for the measurement of bilirubin, specifically unconjugated unbound bilirubin (free bilirubin). My current work explores the role of heme oxygenase, the rate-limiting enzyme in the production of bilirubin, in a variety of conditions that affect newborns.

Krista Mary Smith Sigurdson

PhD: Sociology, University of California, San Francisco in San Francisco, CA

Mentor: Jochen Profit, MD, MPH

Research: I am a qualitative health researcher, currently working on mixed methods projects on racial and other social disparities in the quality of NICU care. To further our understanding of NICU quality, I use open-ended surveys with families and clinicians, qualitative interviews with experts, and ethnographic observations. I am interested in areas of healthcare where maternal and infant health overlap but where questions remain over how to prioritize the needs of families and babies.

My dissertation was a multi-sited ethnography of human milk banking, sharing, and the use of human milk in biomedical innovation. This work introduced me to the use of banked human milk in the NICU and to NICU quality improvement in general. I use approaches from science studies (history, philosophy, sociology and anthropology of science) to inform my work in its focus on contemporary innovations in maternal and infant health care.

Abraham (Avi) Tsur

MD: The Hebrew University, Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem, Israel

Mentors: David Stevenson, MD, and Ron Wong, PhD

Research: I am a physician scientist focused on innovative pharmacological and mechanical strategies for the prevention of preterm birth and pregnancy complications related to impaired placental development.

My current research objective is pharmacological reversal of pregnancy complications related to heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) deficiency. Our lab and others have demonstrated that HO-1 deficiency leads to impaired placental development and consequently maternal and fetal pregnancy complications.

Earlier in my career during my obstetrics and gynecology residency in Israel, I invented the OBSPRING, an innovative, dynamic mechanical device for the prevention of spontaneous preterm birth. The OBSPRING is currently under safety investigation in non-pregnant women and planned for clinical trials in London in 2018. 

Ann Weber

PhD: Epidemiology, University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, CA

Mentor: Gary Darmstadt, MD

Research: My research is focused on improving the long-term developmental outcomes of children globally.  I am interested in identifying and mitigating the early risks to healthy child development, including intrauterine growth restriction, preterm birth, chronic childhood malnutrition, and inadequate nurturing care during the first two years of life.   My work is guided by Dr. Gary Darmstadt, Associate Dean for Maternal and Child Health and leading expert in international child health, and Dr. Gary Shaw, Associate Chair for Clinical Research in the Department of Pediatrics and a Co-PI of the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center at Stanford.

My work is informed by my prior educational experience. In addition to my doctorate, I hold a MPH in epidemiology and biostatistics from the University of California, Berkeley and an MS in chemistry from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Kari Weber

PhD: Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, MD

Mentor: Gary Shaw, DrPH

Research: My current research focuses on perinatal epidemiology, specifically birth defects. I am currently exploring the co-occurrence of preeclampsia and birth defects and performing a comprehensive analysis of potential risk factors for anophthalmia and microphthalmia. My research interests include maternal lifestyle factors, comorbidities, and environmental exposures. 

Stephanie Leonard

PhD: Epidemiology, University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, CA

Mentor: Suzan Carmichael, PhD