Skip to navigation

If you're reading this, it may be time to upgrade your browser.

Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine Fellowship Program

First Year | Second Year | Third Year

First Year (2014 – 2017) ^

Dr. Acacia Cognata

Acacia Cognata, M.D.

  • MD: Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 2011
  • Pediatric Resident: Baylor College of Medicine,
    Houston, TX 2011-2014

Personal Statement...

Dr. Acacia Cognata's post-undergraduate education began in the Peace Corps. She served for two years in Tanzania teaching biology and mathematics to 800 adolescent girls at a boarding school while training a peer health education group to teach life skills and HIV prevention to their peers. She learned as many new skills, both practical (a new language) and impractical (how not to be electrocuted by derelict hot plates), as she taught. Her two years in Peace Corps inspired her to a career in global health. In pursuit of this goal, Dr. Cognata obtained a Masters of Science in Public Health from Emory University. While completing a post-graduate fellowship in international hospital management with the Clinton Foundation, she concluded that medical training would be the best way to continue to pursue her goals. Dr, Cognata completed medical school and pediatric residency at Baylor College of Medicine. During this time, she worked on a collaborative project involving Baylor College of Medicine's neonatology, pediatric, obstetric and gynecology departments and Baylor's International Pediatric AIDS Initiative to provide neonatal resuscitation training to nurses and physicians in four sub-Saharan countries. She looks forward to completing her fellowship in neonatology and pursuing further projects that will affect global neonatal outcomes.

Hide this content


Dr. Sarah Coors

Sarah Coors, M.D.

  • MD: A.T. Still University, Kirksville College, Kirksville, MO 2011
  • Pediatric Resident: Baystate Children's Hospital,
    Springfield, MA 2011-2014

Personal Statement...

Dr. Sarah Coors' medical career began as an undergraduate, obtaining a BS in Nursing from Azusa Pacific University in Southern California. While spending a summer working as a nursing assistant with Mercy Ships in rural Honduras, she felt a calling into medicine as a physician. After completing nursing school, she did clinical research at the University of Maryland on the use of fluoride varnish in inner-city pediatric clinics, and also worked as an RN on an adult Med/Surg unit. She attended medical school at the A.T. Still University Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Missouri, during which she spent a week in Southern India collaborating with local physicians in rural clinics. The decision to pursue Pediatrics as a specialty brought her to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, MA. During residency, Dr. Coors taught in an educational conference for Nepali physicians and nurses about Type 1 Diabetes and created an informational poster encouraging them to screen for diabetes. She also did two site visits in Nepal at rural hospitals to identify regional diabetes centers for Life for a Child. She presented her project at regional and national pediatric research meetings. On her trip to Nepal, Dr. Coors also visited two rural NICUs which further ignited her passion for international medicine and working to impact neonatal mortality. She is looking forward to working with the diverse faculty and staff at TCH to broaden her knowledge and experience, hoping to one day teach and work clinically to affect the lives of newborns and families in the developing world.

Hide this content


Dr. Steven Ford

Steven Ford, M.D.

  • MD: University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, KY 2011
  • Pediatric Resident: University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, KY 2011-2014

Personal Statement...

I was born in Ohio and raised in western Kentucky, eventually heading to the University of Kentucky for medical school and residency. An influential mentor during medical school along with a 4th year acting internship in the NICU helped me realize by the start of residency that Neonatology was the specialty for me. Outside of medicine, I have been married to my high school sweetheart since we were 19, and we graduated high school, college, and medical/dental school together. We have three children (the first two of whom I delivered): Warner, age 5, Layla, age 3, and Aubrey, currently 10 months old. My personal interests/hobbies include film history, theory, and criticism (I minored in film studies in college), global health, tennis, and playing guitar. And, like most Kentuckians, I am of course a huge UK basketball fan and will enjoy watching UK dominate all of college basketball in 2014-15.

Hide this content


Dr. Matthew Maruna

Matthew Maruna, M.D.

  • MD: Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, OH 2005
  • Pediatric Resident: Nationwide Children's Hospital,
    Columbus, OH 2005-2008

Personal Statement...

I was born and raised in northeast Ohio, attending Kent State University for my undergraduate education, The Ohio State University for medical school, and Nationwide Children's Hospital for my pediatric training. With my wife awaiting her fellowship match, I served as a hospitalist in the chronic care NICU at Nationwide Children's Hospital for babies with bronchopulmonary dysplasia. When she matched, our journey took us to Madison, Wisconsin, where I worked as a hospitalist in a more traditional NICU setting at the University of Wisconsin.

As I move into fellowship and reflect on the path that brought me to Baylor, I've been surprised by how applicable a chronic care mindset really is to the growing premie baby, because good respiratory, nutritional, and neurodevelopmental support for these babies unfolds over weeks and months, not hours and days. As such, my interests lie in taking care of babies with chronic lung disease and the application of the chronic care model within neonatology.

My wife, Martha, is an adult cardiologist. We have a 2-year old boy named Sam, and there's another baby on the way. As our family grows, we are excited about our next set of adventures here in Texas!

Hide this content


Dr. Shweta Parmekar

Shweta Parmekar, M.D.

  • MD: University of Texas School of Medicine, San Antonio, TX 2011
  • Pediatric Resident: New York University,
    New York, NY 2011-2014

Personal Statement...

I was born in Alaska, raised in India, taught in Texas, and trained in New York. Variety is the spice of life and it has definitely flavored mine. In college, I studied art and biochemistry while broadening my education in places like Tanzania and Rome. It was the challenging pursuit of science and an interest in service that motivated me to enter medical school in San Antonio. During that time, I discovered my interest in international health in Nepal and Peru and my passion for the pediatric population that led me to New York. I immediately took to the neonatal intensive care unit where variety presented itself in the form of exploring the pathophysiology of the neonates, performing procedures, and comforting families. I also had the chance to explore the field further in a neonatal unit in Uganda. My residency training left me knowing that there was no other place in the hospital I would rather be than on the unit and that neonatology had to be a part of my future. On the day of my TCH interview I asked a now graduate of the program why he chose Baylor and the response was simply, "Because Baylor has it all." That statement led me to Baylor where I can't wait to see, learn, and do it all including seeking varying opportunities in clinical research, resident education, and global health.

Hide this content


Dr. Alana Thomas

Alana Thomas, M.D.

  • MD: University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, AZ 2011
  • Pediatric Resident: Phoenix Children's Hospital/Maricopa, Phoenix, AZ 2011-2014

Personal Statement...

I am from Phoenix, Arizona. For medical school, I went to the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson, AZ. I did my pediatrics residency at Phoenix Children's Hospital/Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix. I chose neonatology because I love working with neonates and the pathophysiology involved with critically ill newborns. By combining my medical knowledge, clinical skills and research experiences, I felt that neonatology as a field provides me a chance to improve outcomes for newborns, to impact their family members and to truly make a difference in the world. I am thrilled to finally be following my dreams working with newborns in the NICU. I am nervous and excited about the move, but am eager for the new adventures that await me in Houston!

Hide this content


Second Year (2013 – 2016) ^

Dr. Courtney Carmicheal-Swanner

Courtney Carmicheal-Swanner, M.D.

  • MD: Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 2010
  • Pediatric Resident: Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 2010-2013

Research Topic:
Use of a feeding care map to improve breast feeding rates at NICU discharge in neonates born at 28–34 weeks

Mentors: Nancy Hurst, MSN & Steven A. Abrams, MD


Dr. John Hoover

John Hoover, M.D.

  • MD: Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 2010
  • Pediatric Resident: Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 2010-2013

Research Topic:
Measurement of Body Composition and Energy Utilization in Children with Cardiomyopathy and End-Stage Heart Failure using Doubly Labeled Water

Mentors: Aamir Jeewa, M.B.B.Ch. & Steven A. Abrams, MD

Personal Statement...

I was born in South Korea and raised in a few different places, but I have always considered Texas home. While studying biomedical engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, working directly with people during volunteer experiences outside of school added a human dimension to my love of science that would lead me to pursue a career in medicine. Although I love kiddos of all sizes (and covet the follow-up emails from families with pictures and videos of their NICU graduates all grown up), I went into residency knowing that I would continue my training as a neonatologist. The mix of longitudinal growth and development and multidisciplinary critical care has always made the NICU my favorite place to be in the hospital.

I feel honored to be one of five fellows recently named as a national AAP/VON Scholar for my involvement in quality improvement research, and I look forward to representing Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital at the upcoming Vermont Oxford Network Annual Quality Congress. In addition to QI research I am proud to be working with the Texas Children's Heart Center in studying the body composition and energy utilization in patients with heart failure. These data and research methods I hope one day will be applied to improve the care of neonates with congenital heart disease and cardiomyopathy.

I love living in Houston. Some days I cannot believe that The Menil Collection, Rothko Chapel, a Turrell Skyspace, and a really, really good taco truck are all in my neighborhood. Outside of work I like advocating for cyclists and cycling infrastructure in the city, weekend trips to Louisiana, and cooking pizza for friends.

Hide this content


Dr. Renjithkumar Kalikkot Thekkeveedu

Renjithkumar Kalikkot Thekkeveedu, M.D.

  • MD: Thiruvananthapuram, India 2006
  • Pediatric Resident: Newark Beth Israel Medical Center,
    Newark, NJ 2010-2013

Personal Statement...

I did my medical school and pediatric residency in India. During residency, I realized that the field I like the most is neonatology. After residency, I worked in various NICUs across India and Middle East for couple of years as the opportunities for getting trained in a proper fellowship program in India were few.

During this period, I was surprised by the wonders of modern medicine. I was lucky to get a lot of 'hands on' experience and see smaller and smaller babies surviving, although some of the morbidities were still high. I knew that newborn care is something that needed 'fine tuning' based on the latest research and evidence. I decided to come to US as I believed that this was the best place to get further training.

I did my second pediatric residency from Children's Hospital of New Jersey at Newark Beth Israel Medical center and first year of NICU fellowship at Cleveland clinic – Metro Health combined program.

Coming to Baylor for completing my fellowship in Neonatology is like a dream coming true. I am excited as the wonderland of the best clinical and research training experience is opening in front of me.

Outside of neonatology, I am very lucky to have a very supportive wife and my son who is all excited about his new school. I hope Houston will bring the best in my personal and professional life.

Hide this content


Dr. Karen Patricia

Karen Patricia, M.D.

  • MD: Albany Medical College, Albany NY, 2010
  • Pediatric Resident: Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 2010-2013

Research Topic:
A Cluster-Randomized, controlled trial of Rapid-Cycle Deliberate Practice Simulation versus Traditional Debriefing of Neonatal Resuscitation Program

Mentor: Jennifer Arnold, MD

Personal Statement...

Jake and I

A long time ago, circa Kindergarten, I wanted to be a veterinarian. Around second grade it was clear that I was allergic to animals; a crushing blow to an 8 year old who loved science. Nothing could keep me down though and I declared to my parents "When I grow up, I'm going to be a baby doctor." From that day forward I think my parents realized they were in for a challenge but I never wavered in that goal. I was fortunate enough to attend Siena College/Albany Medical School through a combined degree program.

During school, I had changed my mind about my specialty a lot, I tried out different programs and nothing ever felt quite right. In the middle of my 3rd year of med school I finally had my pediatric clerkship; I spent the first week of the rotation in the NICU. I knew within hours that was it. I was in love with the NICU – the patients, the families, the physiology and pathophysiology – I was excited about medicine all over again. When I began the search for residency programs it was always with the intent of being a Neonatologist. A lot of hard work and perseverance later, I landed at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital for residency and stayed on through fellowship. Houston was a 180 degree lifestyle change from Upstate NY but so far it has brought many friendships, great moments, and new adventures.

As a first year, I am still working on developing my research project but am planning to focus on Educational Research and Development of a Resident Curriculum with overall improvement in the Residency Rotation. I have spent a lot of time working clinically since starting and I can truly say that at the end of the day, no matter how hard, I still love my job.

Hide this content


Dr. Kristine Reyes

Kristine Reyes, M.D.

  • MD: University of Texas at Houston, Houston TX, 2010
  • Pediatric Resident: Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 2010-2013

Research Topic:
The Role of Maternal Neutralizing Antibodies in Community-Acquired Respiratory Viral Infection in the Neonate

Mentor: Pedro A. Piedra, MD


Dr. Tiffany Stafford

Tiffany Stafford, M.D.

  • MD: Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 2010
  • Pediatric Resident: Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 2010-2013

Research Topic:
Use of MRI, NIRS and ultrasound to assess derangements of cerebral oxygen metabolism and blood flow in HIE

Mentor: Jeffrey Kaiser, MD


Third Year (2012 – 2015) ^

Dr. Sudeepta Basu

Sudeepta Basu, M.D.

  • MBBS: Maulana Azad Medical College, India 2001
  • Pediatric Resident: Maimonides Medical Center,
    Brooklyn, NY 2009-2012

Research Topic:
Study of regulation of transcription of CYP1A1 gene in response to hyperoxia in human lung cell lines

Mentor: Bhagavatula Moorthy, PhD

Personal Statement...

I always wanted to be an astrophysicist, no wonder ET and Star Wars era had an effect on the impressionable mind. But when it came to selection of college, being a doctor seemed to be the right thing to do. The journey of my medical education starting from India to US and from a surgical specialty to pediatrics and then finally neonatology at Baylor has been varied and enriching experience. While circumstances and opportunities guided some of the choices I made, the bottom line has been to be versatile, make the most of given options and excel at the new endeavour, and I must say it has been paying off so far.

Neonatology at Baylor has opened the doors for what i have always been been dreaming of as a star-gazing child - to aim high,face all odds and search for the unknown. Apart from the ocean of clinical diversity, excellent research mentors Dr Moorthy and Dr Kaiser have guided my inquisitiveness in successful projects which have been selected and awarded at various forums. While I have grown a lot as an academic neonatology fellow, the scope of further growth in the 3rd year and beyond fellowship stretches past the horizon and hopefully will keep motivating me in future.

Hide this content


Dr. Amit Bhatt

Amit Bhatt, M.D.

  • MD: St. Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 2006
  • Pediatric Resident: Wright State University School of Medicine, Dayton, OH 2006-2009
  • US Air Force: Staff Pediatrician, Colorado Springs, CO

Research Topic:
Epigenomics of Infant of Diabetic Mothers

Mentors: Jeffrey Kaiser, MD &  John Belmont, MD, PhD

Personal Statement...

First, a little about myself, I completed my training in medicine at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri. I then went on to do residency in a joint military and civilian training program at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. My training came in handy while I worked overseas in Turkey. That is when I recognized that a good training program establishes a young physician's capabilities. I was next stationed at home in Colorado, where the most common ailment I took care of was the dreaded sports physicals. It was after this time that I applied for fellowship.

Truth be told, I had started thinking about a career in Neonatology during medical school. During residency, I experienced a child's amazing ability to recover from injury. I realized that by being a Neonatologist, one can change the world for each individual family that enters the NICU.

It was a comment made during my tour of the NICU that sealed my desire to train at Texas Children's Hospital (TCH). The Neonatal Attending interviewing me said "it was odd, this one day we had three EMCO patients." I was shocked. Other programs reported 3 ECMO patients all year. At TCH, there were 3 patients in one day! In order for me to give great neonatal care, I felt I needed to see a large number of patients and a wide variety of illness. Since coming for fellowship, I have learned that to be true at TCH. Whether it was taking care of four diaphragmatic hernia patients in one month or the transfers we get from hospitals outside the state; being at TCH, we see babies with a wide spectrum of disease. In addition to clinical care, there is a lot of research going on at TCH. I have been lucky enough to start a clinical research trial in collaboration with the TCH Genetics Department looking at the epigenetics markers of infants of diabetic mothers. I believe all these clinical and research experiences will improve my knowledge and skills to care for the babies I see in the future.

Hide this content


Dr. Zeenia Billimoria

Zeenia Billimoria, M.D.

  • MBBS: Bharati Vidyapeeth Medical College, India 2008
  • Pediatric Resident: Children's Hospital of Michigan,
    Detroit, MI 2009-2012

Research Topic:
Intraventricular Hemorrhage in the United States-Insights from the KID Inpatient Database 2009

Mentor: Jeffrey Kaiser, MD


Dr. Michelle Kao

Michelle Kao, M.D.

  • MD: University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX 2009
  • Pediatric Resident: Arkansas Children's Hospital, Little Rock AR 2009-2012

Research Topic:
Promoting Skeletal Muscle Protein Synthesis with Enteral ZA26 in Neonatal Pigs

Mentor: Teresa Davis, PhD


Dr. Erin Umbriaco

Erin Umbriaco, M.D.

  • MD: Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 2009
  • Pediatric Resident: Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 2009-2012

Research Topic:
Maternal Ureaplasma Recombinant DNA Vaccination Improves Ureaplasma-associated Lung Disease Severity and Outcome in Suckling Mice

Mentor: Leonard E. Weisman, MD

Personal Statement...

Erin in the NICU

I have always loved babies, but didn't consider a career in Neonatology until being exposed to it during pediatric residency here at Baylor. My first NICU exposure was at Ben Taub as a first year and it was a rather traumatic two weeks with two of my babies dying unexpectedly. However, my second exposure was fascinating and really fostered my interest in Neonatology. On my first call an infant with estimated GA of about 23 weeks was born and I spent that entire night at his bedside. Of course the first couple weeks were rocky; still I took care of him all month and watched a miracle happen. I was amazed when he went home about six months later with relatively little morbidity from his stay with us. In addition to caring for that infant, I had the opportunity to take care of many babies with a wide range of gestational ages and medical problems.

There are many things I love about Neonatology, but another specific thing I enjoy is the opportunity to relate to families of our patients. Because many of the babies are premature or have complex medical problems, they stay for weeks; therefore you generally have the opportunity to get to know and build relationships with the families. This is very rewarding, as is getting to see healthy babies return to visit all of us after they are discharged.

Coming into fellowship my interests for research related to infectious diseases, and as a biochemistry major in undergrad, I was looking for an opportunity to try being back in a lab. My fellowship research focuses on Ureplasma and BPD. Specifically, I am evaluating the relationship of maternal vaccination with a Ureaplasma rDNA vaccine prior to pregnancy and neonatal outcomes in a mouse model, including survival and development of BPD.

Neonatology is a challenging field requiring management of both tiny and complex patients, yet also a highly rewarding field of medicine.

Hide this content