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Leadership Team

Anthony Sandler

Anthony Sandler, MD, is the director of the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National Health System, senior vice president and surgeon-in-chief of the Joseph E. Robert, Jr., Center for Surgical Care, the Diane and Norman Bernstein Professor of Pediatric Surgery, as well as a principal investigator of the Care Accelerators Initiative in the Sheikh Zayed Institute. Dr. Sandler is internationally known for his research and clinical work on childhood solid tumors and operative repair of congenital anomalies of the gastrointestinal tract. Dr. Sandler has received several awards for outstanding teaching as well as the Joel Rosyln Young Investigator Award from the Association for Academic Surgeons. He currently serves on several committees of the American Pediatric Surgical Association and has published more than 70 peer- reviewed manuscripts in clinical and scientific medical journals. Dr. Sandler was educated at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, the University of Iowa, and the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada.

Kolaleh Eskandanian

Kolaleh Eskandanian is the executive director of the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National Health System. The Institute is an R&D incubator and accelerator, focused on developing pediatric surgical and medical products. In this capacity, she manages a $10 million/year portfolio of over 40 medical device, therapeutics, and health software projects in various stages of development. She is also the executive director of the FDA-funded National Capital Consortium for Pediatric Device Innovation, focused on accelerating the path to market for pediatric devices. Kolaleh works with a large network of small and large businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies---all to promote a cause close to her heart, addressing the unmet medical needs of children. She is the producer of two annual innovation competitions that select small businesses who demonstrate the ability to address a significant medical need in the pediatric space. Since early 2014, a total of 12 pediatric medical device companies have been funded through these competitions.

Kolaleh’s own innovations are in the market space, used by millions. She is the lead inventor of the first-ever adverse event reporting system, initially deployed in a research academic environment. This technology and its derivatives have now been in the market for over 10 years. She has had leadership roles in the development of the first web-based trouble entry management system for a Fortune 100 company in the telecommunications sector. She has been a key contributor in securing over $40 million in government funding for two large research enterprises.

Prior to joining Children’s National, Kolaleh held positions with Intelsat, Accenture, and Georgetown University. Kolaleh’s background is in mechanical engineering with a PhD in operations science and an MBA from American University Kogod School of Business.

Julia Finkel

FinkelJulia Finkel, MD, leads the Pain Medicine Initiative in the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation and is vice chief of the Division of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine at Children’s National. The ultimate goal of the Pain Medicine Initiative is to eliminate pain in children’s medicine. As one of the nation’s preeminent pain medicine physician-scientists, Dr. Finkel is a fellowship-trained pediatric anesthesiologist in the Joseph E. Robert, Jr., Center for Surgical Care at Children’s National. Under her leadership, the pediatric pain medicine program at Children’s National has grown to more than 2,500 clinical patient encounters a year. Dr. Finkel has extensive experience designing and conducting clinical trials relating to analgesics in children and receives substantial support from industry. Her areas of research interest include the modulation of opioid analgesia, tolerance, and hyperalgesia; the development of methodologies to objectively measure pain, and analgesia and developmental pharmacology of analgesics. Dr. Finkel completed her medical training at the State University of New York at Syracuse and her pediatric anesthesiology training at Children’s National.

Kevin Cleary

A research professor and engineer, Kevin Cleary, PhD, leads the Institute's interdisciplinary bioengineering team with a focus on improving visualization in pediatric surgery through medical devices and robotics. As part of that work, he is modifying devices designed for adult surgery to work better in the smaller bodies of children. Embracing the unprecedented opportunity to work side-by-side with physician researchers and other engineers, Dr. Cleary seeks to expand and improve the application of robotics and other devices in pediatric surgery. Dr. Cleary believes the fledgling field of pediatric robotics can advance faster thanks to the unique multidisciplinary set-up of the Institute. Dr. Cleary comes to Children's National from Georgetown University Medical Center's Department of Radiology where he was director and professor at the Imaging Science and Information Systems Center. He is the co-editor of the book Image-Guided Interventions: Technology and Applications. Dr. Cleary received his doctorate from the University of Texas in Austin and was an NSF-sponsored post-doctoral fellow in robotics in Japan.

Diego Preciado

Diego Preciado, MD, PhD, specializes in pediatric airway disorders, congenital sensorineural hearing loss, chronic middle ear disease, chronic sinusitis, and velopharyngeal insufficiency. Dr. Preciado is an active basic science researcher investigating mechanisms of mucin gene regulation in middle-ear cells. He has been awarded several clinical- and basic-science research awards from the American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngology.



Catherine Bollard

Catherine M. Bollard, MBChB, MD, FRACP, FRCPA, is a senior scientist in the Center for Cancer and Immunology Research at the Children’s Research Institute, a member of the Division of the Blood and Marrow Transplantation, and the Principal Investigator and Co-Director of the Care Accelerators Initiative of the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation. In this role, she leads clinical and research efforts to fight cancer and other inflammatory diseases by strengthening a child’s immune system. A distinguished hematologist and immunotherapist, Dr. Bollard’s research focuses on three different areas including developing cell and gene therapies for patients with cancer and underlying immune deficiencies. She is also interested in stem cell and cord blood transplantation, and improving outcomes by decreasing infectious complications and preventing relapse. She also has a specific interest in cell therapies for EBV-associated lymphomas and, as head of the NHL committee of the Children’s Oncology Group, is moving cell therapies to the cooperative group setting.