Joseph E. Robert, Jr., Fellows

Emily Blum

Emily BlumEmily Blum, MD, joined the Institute in 2015 as a Joseph E. Robert, Jr. Fellow after completion of a six year residency program in Urology at the William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan. She joins the institute as part of her training with the Division of Urology as a Pediatric Urology Fellow. Dr. Blum received her bachelor's degree in Biology from Bowdoin College and completed her medical degree at Boston University School of Medicine. Her clinical and research interests include investigation into deciphering clinically significant hydronephrosis as it relates to ureteropelvic junction obstruction and improving management and treatment of spinal cord injury patients in the urologic field. Additionally, she is collaborating to develop a surgical sealant for wound healing, intra-abdominal and intra-thoracic surgery. 

View our past fellows



Tanya Davis (2014 – 2015)
Tanya Davis, MS, MD, joined the Institute in 2014 as a Joseph E. Robert, Jr., Fellow after completion of her residency in Urology at the Medical College of Wisconsin. She also joined Children’s National Health System's Division of Urology as a Pediatric Urology Fellow. She received her medical degree with a Distinction in Bioethics from Albany Medical College and an MS in Healthcare Management. Her clinical and research interests include translational research related to urinary tract infections in children with neurogenic bladders as well as pediatric urologic surgical device development and innovation. Within the institute, she collaborated with pediatric cardiac surgery and cardiology on surgical device research and minimally invasive surgical technique development.

Matthieu Dumont (2014 – 2015)
Matthieu F. Dumont, PhD, is a chemist with a passion for nanomedicine. His work at the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation focused on the design of new smart contrast agents designed to expand the power of MRI, allowing physicians to visualize diseases at the molecular level. His research is at the intersection of chemistry, nanotechnology and medicine. Dr. Dumont’s other area of interest are smart materials that can be dissolved on command or detected with special cameras. These materials are developed with Children’s National surgical teams to improve on procedure outcomes and patient comfort. His work on nanomedicine and smart materials yielded multiple publications and pending patents. He received his PhD in Inorganic Chemistry from University of Florida where he studied materials science, nanotechnology, and MRI.

Nora Lee (2014 – 2015)
Nora Lee, MD, is a urologist with research interests in urinary biomarkers for congenital urinary obstruction, catheter associated urinary tract infections in pediatric institutions, and robotic surgery. She completed her MD degree at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and completed a five-year urology residency at Boston University. She finished her clinical year of fellowship in pediatric urology Children’s National and was working in the Sheikh Zayed Institute as a research fellow. Her projects included 2D and 3D image analysis on ultrasonography to predict function and drainage of obstructed kidneys as well as novel use of a blow spin polymer as an agent for tissue repair.

Jonathan Tan (2014 – 2015)
Jonathan Tan, MD, MPH, was a practicing pediatric anesthesiologist in the Division of Anesthesiology, Sedation and Perioperative Medicine at Children’s National Health System and a Joseph E. Robert, Jr., Fellow in the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation. His interest as a health services researcher is to use innovative technology and design principles to improve healthcare delivery and outcomes. His research has focused on evaluating healthcare technology, data-driven medical decision-making, and the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of innovative products and processes. He has published in the fields of cost-effectiveness/comparative effectiveness research and has served as a reviewer for major medical journals. Previously, Dr. Tan has been awarded several research awards including from the Foundation of Anesthesia Education and Research. In addition, as a medical student, he was a co-founder of a student-run free medical clinic that was one of the first to incorporate a multidisciplinary health approach with quality outcome measures. Dr. Tan received his bachelor's degree in Biology as well as Health and Society from the University of Rochester, an MPH from the Yale University School of Epidemiology and Public Health with a focus on Health Policy and Administration, and a MD from SUNY Stony Brook School of Medicine. Dr. Tan completed his residency training in Anesthesiology at SUNY Stony Brook Medical Center where he was Chief Resident and completed his Pediatric Anesthesiology Fellowship at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.



Gabriela Andrade Calhoun (2013-2014)
Gabriela Calhoun, MD, graduated from medical school at the Federal University of Bahia, Brazil. She completed her anesthesiology residency training at Irmandade Santa Casa de Misericordia in Sao Paulo and practiced for two years in Salvador. Prior to coming to the Sheikh Zayed Institute, she acquired significant research experience in the fields of sickle cell anemia and microcirculation as a research fellow at the Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. During this time she developed transgenic sickle cell models in mice for the purposes of studying microcirculatory parameters as well as effects of new treatments and interventions. She is very interested in pain management and novel treatment methods, and as a Robert Fellow she is working with the Pain Medicine Division to develop objective ways to diagnose, measure and treat pain.

John Costello (2013-2014)
Johnny Costello, MD, received his bachelor’s in medical microbiology/ immunology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He completed two years of clinical general surgery residency at Georgetown University Hospital before joining the Cardiac Surgery Research Laboratory at Children’s National in July 2012 to pursue two dedicated years of research in pediatric cardiac surgery. His second year is being spent as a Robert Fellow. His work includes novel clinical and educational applications within the fields of pediatric cardiac surgery and pediatric cardiology.

Reza Seifabadi (2013-2014)
Reza Seifabadi received his PhD in mechanical engineering from Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada and conducted his PhD thesis research as a visiting scholar at the Johns Hopkins University. During his doctoral studies, he developed enabling technologies for tele-operated prostate needle interventions (including biopsy and brachytherapy) under real-time MRI guidance. During this period, he had the opportunity to collaborate closely with the Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He obtained a bachelor’s of science degree in manufacturing and production engineering and a bachelor’s degree and a master’s. degree in mechanical engineering from Amirkabir University of Technology (Tehran Polytechnic), Iran. At the Sheikh Zayed Institute, he is getting lean-startup training for the first time with like-minded entrepreneurs, and continues his research on medical robotics and devices in pediatrics.


Mariana Mafra Junqueira (2012-Dec 2013)
Mariana Junqueira, MD, completed all of her studies in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Her medical degree comes from Fluminense Federal University. After completing a pediatrics residency at Fernandes Figueira Institute, she decided to be an anesthesiologist and completed her residency at Bonsucesso General Hospital. Mariana has always been interested in ways of transforming the outpatient and hospital stay experience for children and their families, especially when it comes to pain management and painful procedures. For this reason, after working for two years as a pediatric and neonatal anesthesiologist in Brazil and after reading about Dr. Julia Finkel’s work and publications in the area of pain medicine, Mariana decided to leave her country to work with the team in Sheikh Zayed Institute. She is working on the development of the algometer, a new device for pain measurement, and a needle-free local anesthesia placement device.

Aaron Martin (2012-2013)
Aaron Martin, MD, MPH, completed his urology residency at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. His MD and MPH come from Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. His bachelor’s in microbiology also comes from LSU, in Baton Rouge. The majority of his research endeavors have focused on robotic and minimally invasive procedures for urologic diseases. Prior to residency, he gained experience in a wide variety of research techniques while working at the Tulane National Primate Research Center and LSU Department of Microbiology including drug therapy targeting, gene sequencing, tissue culture, and environmental benthic fauna sampling on the bayou. As a Robert Fellow, Aaron was involved in product innovation to simplify common pediatric urology procedures and investigation of new imaging analysis for diagnosis and evaluation of hydronephrosis. He filed a provisional patent based on his work and founded ReConduit Technologies. Having completed his clinical year as a pediatric urology fellow prior to becoming a Robert Fellow, he is a practicing pediatric urologist and assistant professor of urology at LSU Healthcare Network.

Kelly Swords (2012-2014)
Kelly Swords, MD, MPH, completed both her surgical internship and her urology residency at the University of South Florida. Her medical degree and masters of public health come from the University of Carolina Chapel Hill, where she also obtained her bachelor’s in communications. Her current research includes application development for improved physician communication, patient and family education, prevention of medical error and reduction of pain post-surgery. She filed a provisional patent based on her work and founded ChronoKair™. She has won many awards, and traveled to Vietnam and Ethiopia for humanitarian work with IVU med and Healing the Children.

Ramesh Thoranaghatte (2012-2013)
Ramesh Thoranaghatte, MD, PhD, brought unique expertise to the Sheikh Zayed Institute, with a background in both medicine and engineering. His medical degree comes from JJM Medical College at Kuvempu University, India, where he also completed one year of residency in general surgery. His PhD in bioengineering comes from the ARTORG Center at the University of Bern, Switzerland. His strong software design and development expertise helped him to design and develop an “Augmented Reality based Endoscopic-Surgery Navigation System” which won the Venturekick award from the Swiss innovation agency. His research interests are surgical navigation, minimally invasive surgery, robotic surgery, computer vision for medical applications. Ramesh lives in Bern, Switzerland, where his company is exploring applications of a new endoscope-based navigation system.

Kyle Wu (2012-2014)
Kyle Wu, MD, MBA, joined the Sheikh Zayed Institute from Georgetown University Medical Center, where he completed two years of residency in general surgery. His medical and business degrees are from Columbia University, and his bachelor’s in bioengineering is from Johns Hopkins University. His primary interests are solid organ transplantation and medical device development. He is currently looking into novel device design and image analysis algorithms for wound assessment. His past projects include the design of a cervical bio-impedance sensor to better predict the onset of labor in order to provide timely intervention. Kyle successfully launched a non-profit organization linking education and philanthropy; the organization raised more than $30,000 for various charitable foundations. In the past he consulted for a hospital chain in India as well as for health policy development for the Mayor’s Office in New York City.


Mahdi Azizian (2011-2012)
Mahdi Azizian, PhD, has a special interest in robotics, and came to the Sheikh Zayed Institute from the University of Western Ontario, where he completed his doctorate in electrical and computer engineering in the Canadian Surgical Technologies and Advanced Robotics (CSTAR) engineering and robotics laboratories. His bachelor’s degree is also in electrical engineering, from Amirkabir University of Technology (Tehran Polytechnic), Iran. As a Robert Fellow he developed provisional patent applications related to PICC line insertion and stereo vision tracking and control for automated anastomosis. He also prepared several publications. Currently, Mahdi is a systems analyst at Intuitive Surgical.

Alana Beres (2011-2012)
Alana Beres, MD, CM, completed a pediatric trauma fellowship at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto before joining the Sheikh Zayed Institute. Prior to that, she did her general surgery residency at the University of Saskatchewan, Baystate Medical Center at Tufts University in Massachusetts, and McGill University in Montreal. Her medical degree comes from McGill University and her undergraduate degree in chemistry and biochemistry from the University of Western Ontario. While a Robert Fellow, she contributed to early stages of High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) projects, planning animal and clinical studies; and of a necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) clinical study. Alana is currently senior pediatric surgery fellow at Montreal Children's Hospital. “The fellowship taught me that bringing together a multi-disciplinary team really allows for ‘out-of-the-box thinking’ and leads to innovative approaches to problem solving.”

Amy Burns (2011-2012)
Amy Burns, MD, came to the Sheikh Zayed Institute from the University of Virginia, where she completed her medical degree and residency in general surgery and urology. She also has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Virginia, in history. While a Robert Fellow, her interests spanned pediatric care, from how to reinforce the importance of hand-washing in the hospital, to the use of mobile devices to help with neurogenic bladder control and the use of Dexmedetomidine for pain management during urologic surgery. She produced several publications while a Robert Fellow and filed a provisional patent. In 2013, she completed her clinical year as a pediatric urology fellow at Children’s National. She is a pediatric urologist on the faculty at the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania State University, Hershey, where she is involved in the Pediatric Innovation Program.

Katherine Davenport (2011-2012)
Kate Davenport, MD, received her medical degree from the University of Texas at Houston following a degree in biomedical engineering at Texas A&M. She completed her general surgery residency at Eastern Virginia Medical School. Kate contributed actively to several ongoing bioengineering projects on laparoscopic surgery, image fusion and 3D scope, as well as on an appendix microbiome project. She was co-lead writing a business plan for a new approach to PICC line insertion. In her role as Institute fellow in 2010-2011 before the inauguration of the Robert Fellows program, she contributed invaluably to the planning of the new curriculum. Her feedback also guided the group towards important revisions for 2012-2013. An active publisher, her work as a Robert Fellow includes papers, posters and abstracts. Kate is in her second year of a pediatric surgery fellowship at the University of California, San Diego.