Developing Brain Research Laboratory

Fetal Brain Lab

Advanced Imaging Techniques

The Developing Brain Research Laboratory is developing innovative imaging techniques to measure the structure, connectivity, and metabolism of the fetal brain.

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Frontiers of Human Fetal Brain Imaging in Health and Disease Risk

Dr. Catherine Limperopoulos discusses new research in fetal brain imaging.

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Conventional imaging and other technologies often cannot detect fetal brain abnormalities early enough in pregnancy for effective diagnosis and treatment. These abnormalities affect the lifelong health, cognitive function and social-behavioral development of the fetus.

The Developing Brain Research Laboratory, directed by Catherine Limperopoulos, PhD, is housed in the Division of Diagnostic Imaging and Radiology and affiliated with the Fetal Medicine Institute and Newborn Medicine at Children's National Health System. Our research focuses on the developing brain, both in utero and in the newborn stages of life.

We are developing innovative, noninvasive MRI techniques to measure the structure, connectivity and metabolism of the brain in healthy and high-risk fetuses in ways that cannot be done with conventional MRI or ultrasound studies.

It is our long-term goal to be able to identify unborn babies at risk for impaired brain development as soon as possible, so that the proper interventions and clinical planning can take place. These measures can greatly improve children's health and development at birth and throughout their lives.

The lab's work is focused on the latest diagnostic imaging techniques, research on fetal brain development and clinical trials for pregnant women.

Our lab offers:

  • World-renowned research designed to deliver next-generation care: We are one of only a handful of research facilities in North America dedicated to fetal brain research. This unique focus allows us to conduct research that can have a profound impact on prenatal diagnosis and care.
  • Pioneering research: Our extensive database of fetal brain development, in both normal and abnormal fetuses, is one of the most robust in the world. This tool provides ample data for researchers to conduct thorough and accurate comparison analyses of fetal brain development.
  • Leading fetal brain imaging experts:We train physicians around the world in a wide variety of disciplines, including military personnel, to use quantitative MRI to study the developing brain.

Advanced Fetal Brain Imaging: Our Training and Research

Our team is training professionals throughout the United States and around the world in these groundbreaking technological processes. Through training and research partnerships, we are accelerating our research while finding clinical applications for new techniques to help patients now.

Our ultimate goal is to use our research findings to help guide early medical and surgical care for women with high-risk pregnancies.

Contact Us

Potential Academic Partners

Researchers and professionals seeking training can learn more about our studies and how to collaborate with us by contacting our research team:

Referring Physicians

We can help physicians set up patient referrals to our lab through the Fetal Medicine Institute:

  • Call the Fetal Medicine Institute at 202-476-7409. Ask about referral to the Developing Brain Research Laboratory for advanced diagnostic imaging.

Pregnant Women

If you are pregnant, learn more about our studies and how to participate by contacting our clinical research team:

In This Section:

Advanced Fetal Imaging

Physicians can refer women with high-risk pregnancies to our lab for the most advanced diagnostic imaging by world-renowned specialists in fetal medicine.

Clinical Trials for Pregnant Women

We are recruiting women with normal and high-risk pregnancies to join our clinical trials to study brain development in unborn babies during pregnancy.

Fetal Brain Imaging Research

Our research team leads some of the most advanced work in fetal brain imaging in the world and offers opportunities for research and training.

Meet the Team

Our providers represent medical and surgical specialties, family practice, and general pediatrics.

News and Highlights

The Developing Brain Research Laboratory at Children's National is leading in the advancement of pediatric medicine.