Pediatric Divisions



Pediatric Faculty

Dr. Namasivayam Ambalavanan
Co-Director | Professor

Dr. Waldemar A. Carlo
Co-Director | Professor

Dr. Nitin Arora
Assistant Professor

Dr. Terry Bierd
Associate Professor

Dr. Allison Black
Associate Professor

Dr. Dean Bruce
Associate Professor

Dr. Kathryn Buchan
Assistant Professor

Dr. Carl Coghill

Dr. Samuel Gentle
Assistant Professor

Dr. Hannah Hightower
Associate Professor

Dr. Viral Jain
Assistant Professor

Dr. Tam s Jilling
Associate Professor

Dr. Nazia Kabani
Assistant Professor

Dr. Jegen Kandasamy
Assistant Professor

Dr. Andrea Kane
Assistant Professor

Dr. Charitharth Vivek Lal
Associate Professor

Dr. Albert Manasyan (Zambia)
Associate Professor

Dr. Myriam Peralta-Carcelen

Dr. Joseph Philips

Dr. Manimaran Ramani
Associate Professor

Dr. Ariel Salas
Associate Professor

Dr. Brian Sims

Dr. Vivek Shukla
Assistant Professor

Dr. Christine Stoops
Assistant Professor

Dr. Thanh Summerlin
Assistant Professor

Dr. Nora Switchenko
Assistant Professor

Dr. Colm Travers
Assistant Professor

Dr. Kent Willis
Assistant Professor

Dr. Lindy Winter

Featured Research

The UAB Division of Neonatology is a founding member of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Neonatal Research Network (NRN) and the NICHD Global Network for Women’s and Children’s Health Research (GN). Over their respective 36 and 16 years of existence, these networks have defined the standards of multi-institutional collaborative research that has directly resulted in the increased survival and decreased morbidity rates of infants in the United States and abroad, as well as national and international guidelines for practice and training programs implemented in over 100 countries. UAB investigators have led more NRN and GN trials than investigators from any of the more than 35 participating U.S. universities. UAB Neonatology is consistently one of the top centers in developing, leading and enrolling in important randomized controlled trials and clinical studies. Division members have led major groundbreaking clinical trials, including the SAVE Factorial Trial, the SUPPORT Factorial Trial, the First Breath Trial, The BRAIN Trial, the Caffeine Trial, the Budesonide Trial and the Intrapartum Azithromycin Trial. In addition, this year, we received the second largest grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to lead the studies on the effects of intrapartum azithromycin maternal and infant antimicrobial resistance patterns, microbiome and resistome.

Members of the division also conduct groundbreaking basic science and clinical research in term and preterm infants. Namasivayam Ambalavanan, M.D., is the principal investigator on multiple NIH grants, including an R01 grant on “Vital Signs in Opioid-exposed Neonates,” a UG1 multicenter grant on Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Pharmacological Treatments, and a RL1/PL1 grant on Outcomes of Babies with Opioid Exposure (OBOE) project. Recently, Dr. Ambalavanan was PI of the UAB Research Center, one of the five research centers in NIH National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) PreVENT consortium. Additionally, Dr. Ambalavanan has been co-PI with Dr. David Askenazi, UAB Division of Pediatric Nephrology, for an U34 grant under review on acute kidney injury in neonates. He is an investigator on multiple other NIH-funded projects, including an R44 on a lab-on-chip project for multiple acute kidney injury biomarkers and is expected to get a K23 from the NICHD, as he received the request for the just in time IRB document.

Dr. Ambalavanan was awarded an NIH R01 award Vital Signs in Opioid-Exposed Neonates and a UG1 award for the UAB Clinical Site HEAL Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Pharmacological Treatments.

Nitin Arora M.D., M.P.H. received funding through a P30 from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) & UAB Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) to evaluate the effect of cART therapy on placental morphology and pregnancy outcomes; and a KPRI grant to evaluate the Interaction between HCMV and FcRn to understand viral transcytosis across the maternal-fetal interface. He also has received funding through the NIH Congenital and Perinatal Infections Consortium (CPIC) to investigate the impact of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) on placental morphology and neonatal outcomes in primary and non-primary infected pregnancies. He has grant funding through the UAB Sparkman Center to characterize the burden of congenital cytomegalovirus in Uganda. Dr. Arora is the principal investigator on all the studies mentioned above. He is also a co-investigator on the recently funded Pregnancy Clinical Cohort of the National Institute of Health (NIH) REsearching COVID to Enhance Recovery (RECOVER) Initiative.

Viral Jain, M.D. has received internal research funding from the Kaul Pediatric Research Institute and the UAB Lung Health Center. He was recently elected to the Society of Pediatric Research NIH K Workshop and as an editorial board member for Frontier in Pediatrics. He also released a nonprofit children’s storybook for NICU parents, Baby Bookworms, which has already sold more than 10,000 copies before full public release. Birmingham mayor Randall Woodfin helped launch the reading program at UAB and Children’s of Alabama.

Vivek Lal, M.D., has continued to innovate in research. In addition to progress in his K08, he founded UAB start-ups ResBiotic and Alveolus Bio for development of consumer products and therapeutics, respectively, for chronic lung diseases. He also served in an NIH study section.

Myriam Peralta-Carcelen, M.D., received an NIH U01 award HEALthy Brain and Child Development Study at UAB and the University of Alabama.

Maran Ramani, M.D., graduated from the Executive Master of Science in Health Administration (MSHA) program at UAB. Through this two-year program, Dr. Ramani gained new expertise in leadership, marketing, health economics, health policy, operational management, epidemiology, quality improvement, change management, strategic planning and human resources management. With his new knowledge, he plays a key role in our division to achieve our vision and develop new strategic plans for the future. He was accepted to pursue the UAB’s Master of Science in Healthcare Quality and Safety (MSHQS).

Dr. Ramani is co-leading the UAB Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Subcommittee for Leadership Development and works to develop leadership seminars and workshops for Asian American and Pacific Islander faculty.

Ariel A. Salas, M.D., was promoted to associate professor. He joined the 2021 class of the James A. Pittman Jr., M.D., Scholars based on his research achievements and his potential for continued discovery in the clinical sciences. The Pittman Scholar Program supports the retention of highly competitive scientists and physician-scientists. He also received the 2021 Travel Award grant for Early Career Investigators from the International Pediatric Research Foundation (IPRF) and the journal, Pediatric Research. Through his K23 grant from the NICHD, he continues to optimize quantitative and qualitative outcomes of growth and neurodevelopment in preterm infants.

Kent Willis M.D., in addition to his K08, has received internal research funding from the Kaul Pediatric Research Institute, the UAB Lung Health Center and the NIH Loan Repayment Program. He was recently elected to the ATS Pediatric Program Committee as apprentice and as an editorial board fellow at AJP Lung, Cellular and Molecular Physiology. Novel whole lung histology performed by the Willis Lung Lab was recently featured on the ZEISS microscopy blog.

Tamás Jilling, M.D., in collaboration with the UAB Department of Anesthesiology, conducts research funded by the CounterACT Network of the NIH. The CounterACT network operates under the oversight of the Office of Biodefense Research and Surety (OBRS), and its main goal is to bolster medical readiness to care for victims of mass casualties by chemical threat agents. Dr. Jilling is principal investigator of the R21 grant awarded by the CounterACT Program to perform preclinical studies in multiple animal models to test the therapeutic efficacy of esomeprazole as a countermeasure against pregnancy-specific toxicity of bromine gas inhalation.

Colm P. Travers, M.D., received internal research funding from the Kaul Pediatric Research Institute to predict bradycardia episodes in preterm infants with apnea of prematurity using machine learning. In addition, he is awaiting notice of award for a K23 from NHLBI to measure lung mechanics, response to treatments and predict longer-term pulmonary outcomes of preterm infants using non-invasive oscillometry.

In April 2021, the Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit team celebrated as Curtis Means was discharged after 275 days in the hospital. Six months later, in November 2021, Curtis and his team held another celebration as he was officially named the world’s most premature infant to survive by Guinness World Records. Curtis Means was born 132 days early.

2021 Publications

High-Impact Publications

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2021 Aug 15;204(4):485-488. Non-Invasive Oscillometry to Measure Pulmonary Mechanics in Preterm Infants. Travers CP, Klinger AP, Aban I, Hoover W, Carlo WA, Ambalavanan N.

Ann Surg. 2021 Oct 1;274(4):e370-e380. Initial Laparotomy Versus Peritoneal Drainage in Extremely Low Birthweight Infants With Surgical Necrotizing Enterocolitis or Isolated Intestinal Perforation: A Multicenter Randomized Clinical Trial. Blakely ML, Tyson JE, Lally KP, Hintz SR, Eggleston B, Stevenson DK, Besner GE, Das A, Ohls RK, Truog WE, Nelin LD, Poindexter BB, Pedroza C, Walsh MC, Stoll BJ, Geller R, Kennedy KA, Dimmitt RA, Carlo WA, Cotten CM, Laptook AR, Van Meurs KP, Calkins KL, Sokol GM, Sanchez PJ, Wyckoff MH, Patel RM, Frantz ID 3rd, Shankaran S, D’Angio CT, Yoder BA, Bell EF, Watterberg KL, Martin CA, Harmon CM, Rice H, Kurkchubasche AG, Sylvester K, Dunn JCY, Markel TA, Diesen DL, Bhatia AM, Flake A, Chwals WJ, Brown R, Bass KD, St Peter SD, Shanti CM,, Pegoli W Jr, Skarda D, Shilyansky J, Lemon DG, Mosquera RA, Peralta-Carcelen M, Goldstein RF, Bohr BR, Purdy IB, Hines AC, Maitre NL, Heyne RJ, DeMauro SB, McGowan EC, Yolton K, Kilbride HW, Natarajan G, Yost K, Winter S, Colaizy TT, Laughon MM, Lakshminrusimha S, Higgins RD; Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health, Human Development Neonatal Research Network.

Front Synaptic Neurosci. 2021 Jan 6;12:609903.1-8. eCollection. Increased Excitability and Heightened Magnitude of Long-Term Potentiation at Hippocampal CA3-CA1 Synapses in a Mouse Model of Neonatal Hyperoxia Exposure. Ramani M, Miller K, Ambalavanan N, McMahon LL.

J Clin Invest. 2021 Jan 4;131(1):e139487. Neutrophilic inflammation during lung development disrupts elastin assembly and predisposes adult mice to COPD. Benjamin JT, Plosa EJ, Sucre JM, van de Meer R, Dave S, Gutor S, Nichols DS, Gulleman PM, Jetter CS, Han W, Xin M, Dinella PC, Catanzarite A, Kook S, Dolma K, Lal CV, Gaggar A, Blalock JE,Newcomb DC, Richmond BW, Kropski JA, Young LR, Guttentag SH, Blackwell TS.

J. Pediatr. 2021 Mar;230:251-254.e3. Percent Body Fat Content Measured by Plethysmography in Infants Randomized to High- or Usual-Volume Feeding after Very Preterm Birth. Salas AA, Travers CP, Jerome ML, Chandler-Laney P, Carlo WA.

J. Pediatr. 2021 Apr;231:55-60.e1. Early Skin-to-Skin Care with a Polyethylene Bag for Neonatal Hypothermia: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Travers CP, Ramani M, Gentle SJ, Schuyler A, Brown C, Dills MM, Davis CB, Mwenechanya M, Chomba E, Aban I, Manasyan A, Ambalavanan N, Carlo WA.

J. Pediatr. 2021 May;232:95-102. Encouraging Parental Reading for High-Risk Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Infants. Jain VG, Kessler C, Lacina L, Szumlas GA, Crosh C, Hutton JS, Needlman R, Dewitt TG.

J. Pediatr. 2021 Oct;237:148-153.e3. Growth Rates of Infants Randomized to CPAP or Intubation After Extremely Preterm Birth. Salas AA, Carlo WA, Do BT, Bell EF, Das A, Van Meurs KP, Poindexter BB, Shankaran S, Younge N, Watterberg KL, Higgins RD; Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Neonatal Research Network.

N Engl J Med. 2020 Dec 31;383(27):2639-2651. Higher or Lower Hemoglobin Transfusion Thresholds for Preterm Infants. Kirpalani H, Bell EF, Hintz SR, Tan S, Schmidt B, Chaudhary AS, Johnson KJ, Crawford MM, Newman JE, Vohr BR, Carlo WA, D’Angio CT, Kennedy KA, Ohls RK, Poindexter BB, Schibler K, Whyte RK, Widness JA, Zupancic JAF, Wyckoff MH, Truog WE, Walsh MC, Chock VY, Laptook AR, Sokol GM, Vohr BR, Patel RM, Cotten CM, Carmen WF, Devaskar U, Chawla S, Seabrook R, Higgins RD, Das; Eunice Kennedy Shriver NICHD Neonatal Research Network (Ambalavanan N, et al.)

Pediatr Res. 2021 May;89(7);1804-1809. Postnatal growth of preterm infants 24 to 26 weeks of gestation and cognitive outcomes at 2 years of age. Salas AA, Bhatia A, Carlo WA.

Pediatrics. 2021 Jun;147(6):e2020048678. Early Determination of Prognosis in Neonatal Moderate or Severe Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy. Ambalavanan N, Shankaran S, Laptook AR, Carper BA, Das A, Carlo WA, Cotten CM, Duncan AF, Higgins RD, for the Eunice Kennedy Shriver NICHD Neonatal Research Network.

Redox Biol. 2021 Jan;38:101782. Bronchopulmonary dysplasia is associated with reduced oral nitrate reductase activity in extremely preterm infants. Gentle SJ, Ahmed KA, Yi N, Morrow CD, Ambalavanan N, Lal CV, Patel RP.

Respir Res. 2021 Feb 17;22(1):57-65. MicroRNA 219-5p inhibits alveolarization by reducing platelet derived growth factor receptor-alpha. Freeman A, Qiao L, Olave N, Rezonzew G, Gentle S, Halloran B, Pryhuber GS, Gaggar A, Tipple TE, Ambalavanan N, Lal CV.

Extramural Awards & Leadership Roles

Nitin Arora, M.D.

  • Dr. Arora was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.

Wally Carlo, M.D.

  • He became co-editor for Child Health for BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth.
  • He accepted Pediatric Research Editorial Board appointment.
  • He assumed key role on Children Editorial Board.
  • He took on Neonatology Co-Editor for International Health.

Samuel Gentle, M.D.

  • Dr. Gentle received AAP/VON Scholar Program recognition for work in data-driven quality improvement in the care of infants.

Vivek Lal, M.D.

  • Dr. Lal founded UAB start-ups ResBiotic and Alveolus Bio for development of consumer products and therapeutics, respectively, for Chronic Lung Diseases. Through private equity investors, Dr. Lal raised $4.5 million in funding to finance these ventures.
  • He received a patent for “Inhaled Respiratory Probiotics for Lung Disease of Infancy, Childhood & Adulthood.”
  • He was granted a patent on “Inhaled Probiotics for Chronic Lung Disease of Adulthood, Childhood and Infancy.”
  • He was appointed to the board of Bio Alabama, the leading biotech organization in Alabama.
  • He was appointed to the board of Microbiome Therapeutics Innovation Group, the Washington, DC–based national advocacy group for microbiome therapeutics.
  • He was invited to serve on NIH Lung Injury Repair and Remodeling (LIRR) Study section in 2021.

Albert Manasyan, M.D.

  • Dr. Manasyan was elected to the Society for Pediatric Research.

Joseph Philips, M.D.

  • Dr. Philips was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.

Manimaran Ramani, M.D.

  • Dr. Ramani was elected to the Society for Pediatric Research.

Ariel Salas, M.D.

  • Dr. Salas was elected to the Society for Pediatric Research.

Vivek Shukla, M.D.

  • Dr. Shukla was invited and presented at the PRS Young Investigator’s Early Career Speaker talk “Predictive Modeling for Perinatal Mortality in Resource-Limited Settings.”
  • He received the SPR Clinical Research Award at PAS 2021.
  • He received the Mead Johnson Nutrition Early Career Speaker Award at Perinatal Research Society Annual Meeting for “Advanced Machine Learning Based Prediction of Perinatal Outcomes.”

Brian Sims, M.D.

  • Dr. Sims was elected to America Pediatric Society Committee on Diversity, Inclusion and Equity.
  • He also was elected to the American Pediatric Society.
  • He received an R21 DHHS/NIH/NICHD “The Therapeutic Potential of Pasteurized Human Donor Breast Milk Exosomes” Award (NEC treatment).

Kent Willis, M.D.

  • Dr. Willis was selected to be AJP Lung Editorial Board Fellow.
  • He was NIH Early Career Reviewer (ECR) program in Center for Scientific Review (CSR) panel member.
  • He received an NIH LRP (Loan Repayment Program) Award.

New Faculty 2021

Nazia Kabani, M.D.
Assistant Professor

Vivek Shukla, M.D.
Assistant Professor

Neonatology Fellowship Program

The UAB Neonatology Fellowship Program provides an excellent educational, clinical and research experience to help train the next generation of academic neonatologists. Our program provides ample experience and instruction to enable our fellows to develop special competence in the management of critically ill neonates. Fellows are provided with instruction in the psychosocial implications of disorders of the fetus, neonate and young infant, as well as in the family dynamics surrounding the birth and care of a sick neonate. As part of their training, fellows are involved in a regional program that includes outreach education, patient consultation, and transport of ill neonates. The program also places an emphasis on excellence in basic science and clinical research with up to two-thirds of the fellowship time dedicated to research. The program offers a robust curriculum of educational conference and seminar opportunities for fellows that includes Neonatal Patient Management Conferences, Perinatal Grand Rounds, and Developmental Physiology and Pathophysiology Seminars that are held weekly, and Perinatal Mortality Conferences, perinatal journal clubs and research seminars that are held monthly. 

2021–2022 Fellows

Kathryn Brand, M.D.
First-Year Fellow
Residency: University of Texas, Medical Branch

Kylee Miller, M.D.
First-Year Fellow
Residency: University of Alabama at Birmingham

Binh Vu, M.D.
First-Year Fellow
Residency: University of Mississippi

Jacqueline Razzaghy, M.D.
Second-Year Fellow
Residency: Greenville Health System

Lucy Weaver, M.D.
Second-Year Fellow
Residency: University of Alabama at Birmingham

Zaki Yazdi, M.D.
Second-Year Fellow
Residency: Medical University of South Carolina

Amelia Freeman, M.D.
Third-Year Fellow
Residency: University of Alabama at Birmingham

Mary Silverberg, M.D.
Third-Year Fellow
Residency: University of Alabama at Birmingham

Program Directors

Namasivayam Ambalavanan, M.D.
Fellowship Program Director

Manimaran Ramani, M.D.
Associate Fellowship Program Director

Program Coordinator

Debbie Svensson