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Senior Staff and Faculty

Nancy Bauman

Nancy Bauman, M.D., is a pediatric otolaryngologist at Children's National Hospital. She has authored more than 70 publications and eight book chapters and is recognized internationally. She reviews manuscripts for multiple otolaryngology journals and serves on the editorial board of the Annals of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery and ENToday. Dr. Bauman's research interests include the study of laryngeal reflex activity in infants and the role of gastroesophageal reflux in causing upper airway pathology, as well as vascular anomalies. She is studying the efficacy of propranolol versus prednisolone in hemangiomas of infancy. Her clinical and surgical interests include managing complex diseases of the larynx and tracheobronchial tree. Dr. Bauman is an advocate of a multidisciplinary approach to evaluating and treating patients with complex aerodigestive conditions.

Charles Berul

Charles Berul, M.D., is Division Chief of Cardiology and co-director of the Children's National Heart Institute at Children's National Hospital. He holds the Van Metre Companies Professorship in Cardiology. He was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in the area. Dr. Berul was the director of the Pacemaker Program at Children’s Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School until coming to Children’s National Medical Center in 2009. Dr. Berul is a professor of Pediatrics at George Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Berul is a fellow of the Heart Rhythm Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Cardiology, the Society for Pediatric Research, and the American Heart Association’s Council on Cardiovascular Disease in the Young. Dr. Berul has more than 150 publications in pediatric cardiology, is an invited speaker nationally and internationally and is an acknowledged expert in the area of pediatric cardiac electrophysiology.

Daniel Casella

Daniel Casella, M.D., is an urologist at Children’s National Urology department and Positive Reevaluation of Urogenital Differences (PROUD) Clinic. His specialties include differences in sex development.

Haydar Celik

Haydar Celik, Ph.D., joined the Institute as assistant research professor to work on the IGNITE program, under the leadership of Peter Kim, M.D. Dr. Celik’s current research interest focuses on developing novel non-invasive surgery technologies and combination therapy approaches using magnetic resonance imaging guided high-intensity focused ultra-sound (MR-HIFU) system.

Haydar received his Ph.D. degree from Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Bilkent University, Turkey (2010). He worked with Prof. Ergin Atalar between 2002 and 2010, developing novel devices and methods for interventional magnetic resonance imaging. Immediately after graduation, he joined the Sunnybrook Research Institute Cardiovascular MRI Research Group in Toronto as a post-doctoral fellow, under mentorship of Prof. Graham Wright. Dr. Celik led a multidisciplinary team in a pre-clinical project and introduced a non-contrast enhanced MRI method for characterization of radiofrequency ablation lesions.

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Richard Jaepyeong Cha

Richard Jaepyeong Cha, Ph.D., is an optical engineer with expertise in optical system design and image processing. Dr. Cha joined the Institute in July 2016 as an assistant professor to work on the VISION program (Vision and Intelligence for Surgical Innovation, Optimization and Navigation), leading a team of engineers and clinicians in the development of superhuman vision, machine learning and intelligent surgical guidance.

Dr. Cha received his Ph.D. degree from Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Johns Hopkins University (2016), while he completed his bachelor and master degrees from Seoul National University in South Korea. His doctoral work has provided him the necessary background and expertise in optical imaging of cellular/tissue level architecture and physiological function, specifically in the use of fluorescence imaging (FI), multispectral/hyperspectral imaging (MSI/HSI) and laser speckle contrast imaging (LSCI). During his graduate program, he was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Predoctoral Fellow and he initiated multiple projects on development of endoscopic fluorescence imaging tool for brain activity mapping in live animals, multispectral imaging platform for optimizing anastomosis placements and real-time blood flow assessment for intraoperative use in clinical neurosurgery. His current research interests include biomedical imaging guided surgical intervention and anatomical/physiological imaging in live animals.

Kevin R. Cleary

Kevin R. Cleary, Ph.D., is the technical director of the Bioengineering Initiative within the Institute. His research interests include medical robotics, medical device development, minimally-invasive interventions and image-guided navigation.

Kolaleh Eskandanian

Kolaleh Eskandanian, Ph.D., M.B.A., P.M.P., is Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer at Children’s National Hospital, reporting to hospital’s Executive Vice President, Physician-In-Chief and Chief Academic Officer. In this capacity, she oversees Innovation Ventures, the Sheikh Zayed Institute’s R&D operations, and has a leadership role in the development of the Children’s National Research and Innovation Campus (opening in 2020).She is also the executive director of the FDA-funded National Capital Consortium for Pediatric Device Innovation (NCC-PDI), focused on accelerating the path to market for pediatric devices. Eskandanian works with a large network of small and large businesses, nonprofits and government agencies –addressing the unmet medical needs of children. She is the producer of an annual innovation competition that supports small businesses who demonstrate the ability to address a significant medical need in the pediatric space.

Eskandanian’s expertise includes the full spectrum of product development activities, having held management positions at Accenture, a global management consulting firm, where she directed major product launches for clients. Eskandanian is the co-PI on the FDA-funded Global Pediatric Clinical Trials Network grant and the CTSI-CN lead of the Orphan Product Accelerator.Eskandanian’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. Her background is in mechanical engineering with a PhD in operations science and an MBA from American University Kogod School of Business.

Julia Finkel

Julia Finkel, M.D., is a pediatric anesthesiologist and vice chief for Pain Medicine and Research in the Division of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine. She is also a principal investigator in the Pain Medicine Initiative of the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation. Dr. Finkel has extensive experience designing and conducting clinical trials relating to analgesics in children and has received substantial support from industry. Dr. Finkel is regularly invited to speak at national meetings on topics related to pediatric pain management.

Timothy Kane

Timothy Kane, M.D., is a pediatric surgeon and researcher who specializes in endoscopic surgery. As principal investigator in the Institute's Translational Biodesign Initiative, Dr. Kane is focusing on the development of the minimally invasive surgery program through clinical practice, instruction, and research. He is working to improve minimally invasive surgical techniques and speed their incorporation into standard clinical care for pediatrics.

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Marius George Linguraru

Marius George Linguraru, Ph.D., is a principal investigator in the Translational Biodesign Initiative of the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation. Within the Bioengineering Initiative, Dr. Linguraru leads the medical image analysis efforts and will develop tools for computer-aided diagnosis, minimally-invasive interventions and multi-organ modeling of anatomy and physiology in children. These efforts are enhancing traditional medical imaging modalities and create modern clinical tools for pediatric radiology and oncology. Surgeons will be able to perform less invasive interventions with the use of pioneering imaging techniques. Dr. Linguraru is internationally known for his work in radiology and medical image processing, particularly in harnessing software based technology to enhance the clinical use of existing imaging tools. He joins the Sheikh Zayed Institute from the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, where he served as staff scientist in Radiology and Imaging Sciences. He maintains an appointment as a guest researcher within that center. Dr. Linguraru is currently a Member Elect of the Technical Committee for Medical Imaging and Image Processing of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. Dr. Linguraru completed his doctorate at University of Oxford and holds two master’s degrees from the University of Sibiu, Romania. He held postdoctoral fellowships at Harvard University and the French National Institute of Research in Informatics and Mathematics.

Evan Nadler

Evan Nadler, M.D., is a pediatric surgeon and researcher. Dr. Nadler serves as Co-Director of the Obesity Program and Director of the Bariatric Surgery Program. He performs bariatric surgery on adolescents who meet certain criteria and works closely with the multidisciplinary team of pediatric specialists in the Obesity Program. Dr. Nadler's basic science research focuses on the liver fibrosis associated with biliary atresia. His clinical and translational science research investigates the systems biology of obesity surgery, and the safety and effectiveness of various weight loss procedures in adolescents. He has published widely in the above-mentioned areas.

Laura Olivieri

Laura Olivieri, M.D., is a pediatric cardiologist who performs advanced cardiovascular imaging in Echocardiography, Cardiac Magnetic Resonance (CMR), and Cardiac Computed Tomography for children with heart disease. Dr. Olivieri's research is focused on improving imaging techniques, particularly in CMR imaging. She is a co-investigator in the National Institutes of Health/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute/Children’s National partnership dedicated to this effort. She is also focused on creating a novel, three-dimensional display of congenital cardiovascular defects to both enhance education about heart disease as well as improve the clinical care and interventional outcomes of children and adults with congenital heart disease. Dr. Olivieri joined the Institute from Children’s National Heart Institute at Children's National as well as the NHLBI Intramural program in advanced cardiac imaging. She is a diplomat of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a member of the American Heart Association, Society for Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging and the American Society of Echocardiography. Dr. Olivieri has authored or co-authored numerous abstracts and peer-reviewed articles. She attended medical school at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, completed residency at Brown University, Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, RI, and completed a clinical and research fellowship at Children's National in cardiology and in advanced cardiac imaging at NIH.

Nikki Posnack

Nikki Posnack, Ph.D., investigates the impact of environmental influences on cardiovascular function. Specifically, her recent work focused on how endocrine disrupting chemicals, which are used in the manufacturing of medical devices and consumer products, can alter cardiac electrical and mechanical function. Dr. Posnack's laboratory collaborates on a number of clinically-relevant projects that aim to improve patient outcomes following cardiac surgery and/or transfusion procedures. The laboratory utilizes a wide-array of cardiovascular models (neonatal cardiac cells, human stem cell-derived myocytes, whole hearts, in vivo radiotelemetry), imaging modalities (confocal, optical mapping, hyperspectral), and phenotypic assays (metabolic, gene expression arrays, calcium and voltage dyes). Dr. Posnack's laboratory is part of the Children's National Heart Institute and the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation.

Diego Preciado

Diego Preciado, M.D., Ph.D., is a tenured professor at Children's National and George Washington University. He serves as Vice-Chief of the Division of Pediatric Otolaryngology, as well as program director of the ACGME accredited Pediatric Otolaryngology Fellowship at Children’s National. His clinical practice is focused on pediatric airway reconstruction, childhood hearing loss/cochlear implants and velopharyngeal insufficiency. He has authored over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts, 10 book chapters and two edited books. 

An active basic science researcher, Dr. Preciado runs an otitis media translational laboratory funded through numerous intramural and extramural awards including R01, U01 and R21 grants from the NIH. Finally, he has served on numerous national committees including the American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngology Board of Directors and the Executive Committee for the Section of Otolaryngology of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Anthony Sandler

Anthony Sandler, M.D., is the Senior Vice President & Surgeon-in-Chief of the Joseph E. Robert Jr. Center for Surgical Care at Children’s National Hospital in Washington D.C. He is the Diane and Norman Bernstein Chair in Pediatric Surgery and is a Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics at George Washington University. He is also principal investigator in the Immunology Initiative of the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation.

Dr. Sandler's research interests include tumor immunology and tumor vaccine therapy, as well as the application of novel devices and technologies in surgical practice. Dr. Sandler is internationally known for his work on childhood solid tumors and operative repair of certain congenital anomalies. He has served on multiple committees for the American Association of Pediatric Surgery and has also served on several committees of the Children’s Oncology Group.

He is currently on the Board of Examiners for the Pediatric Surgery Qualifying examination. Dr. Sandler’s research interests focus on solid tumors of childhood, in which his current research in tumor immunology investigates immunotherapeutic vaccine strategies. He has co-developed a surgical polymer sealant that is funded by the NIH and is currently in pre-clinical trials. Dr. Sandler has over 100 peer reviewed publications in clinical and scientific medical journals.

Karun Sharma

Karun Sharma, M.D., is an interventional radiologist, and director of the interventional radiology section at Children’s National Hospital, in addition to his work as principal investigator in the Sheikh Zayed Institute. Dr. Sharma’s collaborative and translational research is aimed at furthering the use of image-guided, minimally invasive therapy in children. Specifically, he is working on enhancing local drug delivery techniques in cancer and thrombosis and has been principal or co-investigator on clinical trials evaluating the role of endovascular treatment of deep vein thrombosis as well as the role of chemoembolization and image-guided ablation for treatment of liver cancer. He is translating this previous experience into the pediatric population. He is also interested in evaluating the role of MR- guided high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) to treat pediatric conditions.

Dr. Sharma joins the Sheikh Zayed Institute from his previous position as Assistant Professor of Radiology at Georgetown University Hospital and as a research scientist in the Center for Interventional Oncology at the National Institutes of Health. He is a member of the Society of Interventional Radiology, Society for Pediatric Interventional Radiology and Radiological Society of North America. Dr. Sharma has authored or co-authored numerous abstracts and peer-reviewed articles. He attended medical and graduate school at the Medical College of Virginia, completed residency in Radiology and fellowship in Vascular and Interventional Radiology at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at Washington University in St. Louis.

Raj Shekhar

Raj Shekhar, Ph.D., is a researcher and engineer specializing in multimodality image fusion and augmented reality. As principal investigator in the Translational Biodesign Initiative at the Sheikh Zayed Institute, Dr. Shekhar co-directs its Fusion Program. Dr. Shekhar works with surgeons to advance planning and navigation that will improve surgical performance and outcomes. Image fusion is a computer-assisted surgery technique that combines imaging data from multiple sources, such as computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, or a laparoscope, to provide more accurate preoperative assessment as well as superior intraoperative visualization and navigation during surgical procedures. Dr. Shekhar’s basic science research focuses on medical image processing, real-time computing, 3D ultrasound, and image-guided interventions. Prior to joining the Children's National, Dr. Shekhar was an associate professor of Diagnostic Radiology and an affiliate professor of Bioengineering and Electrical Computer Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is also the founder of IGI Technologies, a medical imaging technology startup. He has authored or coauthored more than 75 scientific papers, including nearly 40 published in peer-reviewed journals. He holds five U.S. patents.

Stéphanie Val

Stéphanie Val, Ph.D., is a senior research scientist at the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation. She earned her doctorate in cellular and molecular biology applied to toxicology in 2011 at the University Paris Diderot in France, studying the response of lung models to atmospheric particles. She joined the Sheikh Zayed Institute in 2012 in Diego Preciado’s laboratory focused on middle ear infection, called Otitis Media (OM).

Dr. Val has developed several innovative in vitro models to study the progression of OM from an acute infection to chronic (COM). She discovered the importance of neutrophil extracellular traps (NET) and microRNAs (miRNA) in COM and is since studying their implication in the progression of OM by investigating their effect on inflammation and mucin regulation. In addition to her core work, she participated to collaborations aiming at finding new drug delivery strategies to treat chronic OM.

Dr. Val directs the Otologic laboratory operations and has trained, supervised and mentored 20+ students and research professionals in addition to participating to many collaborative research projects. She regularly presents research findings at national and international scientific conferences and has authored 19 articles and 1 book chapter.

Pavel Yarmolenko

Pavel Yarmolenko, Ph.D., is a biomedical engineer who is working primarily on development and clinical translation of novel pediatric applications of magnetic resonance-guided high intensity focused ultrasound (MR-HIFU) at the Sheikh Zayed Institute. This technology has shown promise as a non-invasive alternative to surgical intervention, a means of locally targeting drug delivery as well as a local modulator of immune response. As medicine becomes increasingly interdisciplinary, image-guided noninvasive and minimally invasive therapeutic approaches, such as those offered by MR-HIFU, clearly offer an exciting and promising alternatives to traditional treatments and point to new possibilities for combination treatment. In close collaboration with other groups, Dr. Yarmolenko's current work seeks to further develop MR-HIFU-based ablative as well as mild hyperthermic heating alone and in combination with drug delivery systems. The possibilities offered by these new approaches are especially promising for pediatric medicine, as they offer potentially efficacious treatment without the need for scalpels, needles or ionizing radiation.

This research direction is a natural continuation of his doctoral thesis work on development of image-guided local drug delivery with a combination of temperature-sensitive liposomes and MR-HIFU-mediated local mild hyperthermia. During his doctoral work, Dr. Yarmolenko enjoyed the mentorship and deep insight of Dr. Mark Dewhirst at Duke University as well as Drs. Bradford Wood and Matthew Dreher at the National Institutes of Health. At SZI, Dr. Yarmolenko is excited to join an interdisciplinary team of scientists, engineers and clinicians who are working towards introducing safer and less traumatic therapeutic regimens to pediatric medicine.

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