Pediatric Specialties — Division of Neonatology
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Appendix - Biographies

Neonatal nurse with infant

Neonatologists & Research Scientist

Shanthy Sridhar, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, Medical Director NICU, Associate Program Director. She graduated as a fellow from SUNY Downstate Medical Center and joined Stony Brook Medicine in 1999. Dr. Sridhar has been instrumental in implementing daily IHI/Multidisciplinary Quality Improvement rounds on low birth weight infants since 2006. She has been involved with many collaborative clinical trials and quality improvement studies in infection control, nutrition and oxygen therapy. Dr. Sridhar recently completed work as the onsite principal investigator for the NIPPV Study (Nasal Intermittent Positive Pressure Ventilation in Preterm Infants-Neonatal trials Group). She currently is the onsite principal investigator for the COT study (Efficacy and Safety of Targeting Lower Arterial Oxygen Saturation to Reduce Oxygen Toxicity and Oxidative Stress in Very Preterm Infants) and the on-site Principal Investigator for Synergistic Pharmacologic Prevention of ROP Grant Award with SUNY Pharmacology Consortium.

Joseph DeCristofaro, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Medical Director, Infant Apnea Program, Assistant Medical Director for Patient Safety has been at Stony Brook since 1986. During this time, he has focused on several aspects of neonatology and hospital administration, including serving as neonatology fellowship director from 1999 to 2006, as well as acting division chief over different intervals. He has been the Medical Director of the Infant Apnea Program since 1991 and follows NICU graduates discharged home with apnea monitors in the Infant Apnea Clinic. He has been involved in neonatal medication and was recognized as a leader in the hospital on medication issues. Dr. DeCristofaro chaired the hospital medication safety committee from its inception until 2007 when he was asked to chair the hospital patient safety committee. He continues to serve on medication safety committees and is actively involved in hospital and neonatal medication safety. He also is the Assistant Medical Director for Patient Safety and Quality and is involved in teaching medical students, residents, fellows and attendings on medication and patient safety while continuing to work full time in the neonatal ICU. He leads the medical team on safety rounds on Patient Safety First, a hospital-wide initiative for safe medical practices. His research interests include Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, quality improvement and safety.

Echezona Maduekwe, MD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics joined Stony Brook Medicine in 2013.  He completed his fellowship training at Golisano Children's Hospital University of Rochester where he was recognized as the Bradford Fellow by the Department of Pediatrics.  He is board certified in Pediatrics.  His research interest during his fellowship was in hyperoxic injury to the neonatal lung.  He tested the hypothesis that cumulative oxygen, represented as concentration and duration of oxygen exposure (i.e. "oxygen area under the curve"), can be used to define levels of oxygen toxicity sufficient to impair host response to viral infection in mice - funded by NIH T32 Department of Pediatrics grant, "Bench to Bedside to Curbside."  His overall research interests include studies relating to oxygen delivery and its impact in neonates.  Dr. Maduekwe's future interest is in improving the care of the neonates in our region through perinatal outreach program.

Jonathan Mintzer, MD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, joined Stony Brook Medicine in 2012 following completion of his fellowship training at Westchester Medical Center. Dr. Mintzer has conducted several studies regarding the potential use of NIRS-derived oxygen extraction and utilization as a real-time, noninvasive trended metric for clinical decision support in neonates admitted to the NICU. His research has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals, and he regularly presents at regional and national academic meetings. Dr. Mintzer is also an active member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine (AAP-SONPM) and is the Founder and Page Editor for the AAP-SONPM Articles of Interest website, which provides monthly updates of noteworthy articles for neonatologists.

Aruna Parekh, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Director of NICU High Risk Follow-up Clinic, came to Stony Brook Medicine in 2010 as a Clinical Associate Professor. She brought with her more than 35 years of clinical and academic neonatology experience. Prior to her arrival, she was a faculty member at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in the departments of Pediatrics and Psychiatry and Chief of Neonatology at its affiliate Hospital, Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn. Dr. Parekh has been actively involved in teaching of medical students, residents, neonatal fellows, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, occupational therapists, speech therapists and physical therapists. Her area of interest has been in long-term follow-up and impact of early intervention on NICU graduates. As a medical director, she established an early intervention program in Brooklyn and ran an infant and child learning center (SUNY Research Foundation). At Stony Brook, she is in charge of the High-Risk Follow-up Clinic. She also is involved in collaborative multicenter research projects involving NICU graduates enrolled in several trials looking at multiple doses of surfactant, nitric oxide and different levels of oxygen concentrations on long-term pulmonary and neurologic outcomes. In addition, she is interested in quality assurance projects looking at best methods of training for neonatal intubation using simulation methodology.

Jennifer Pynn, MD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Fellowship Program Director, joined Stony Brook Medicine in 2011. She completed her fellowship training at Columbia’s Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and is board certified in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine. During her fellowship, she participated in research to determine new methods of detecting infection in the newborn, specifically the role of urinary NGAL as a potential marker for late onset sepsis among NICU patients. She is taking advanced courses in education and Neonatal Perinatal Medicine Fellowship Director for the Division of Neonatology -- setting the curriculum for the fellows and residents, as well as setting the standards for best teaching methods for adult learners.

Esther Speer, MD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, joined Stony Brook Medicine in 2009. She completed her fellowship training at the University of Chicago, where she participated in research on the genetic causes of preterm delivery and the impact of intrauterine infections on the outcome of extremely low gestational age newborns. Her current research work aims to identify potential therapeutic agents that can down regulate the pathological inflammatory response syndrome found in term and preterm neonates exposed to intrauterine infections. Dr. Speer continues as an active faculty member in the Neonatal Research Center, with a focus on molecular regulation underlying the different inflammatory responses of monocytes from newborns and adults to bacterial infection. In addition, Dr. Speer is interested in the clinical outcome of extremely low birth weight newborns.ddition, Dr. Speer is interested in the clinical outcome of extremely low birth weight newborns.

Marian Evinger, PhD is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Pharmacology and Neurosciences.  Her research interests in neonatology include the influence of hypoxia on synthesis and release of neuroendocrine transmitters and factors in cell culture models of acute perinatal hypoxic exposure. One current project examines the stimulatory influence of reduced oxygen exposure on the production of opioid peptides and endogenous opioids in adrenal medullary-derived pheochromocytoma cell lines.  A related project evaluates the effects of hypoxia on inflammatory cytokine synthesis and release in this model. These studies complement original observations from this laboratory and division that hypoxia rapidly stimulates neonatal adrenaline release by markedly activating transcription of the gene for the adrenaline-synthesizing enzyme PNMT, acting through a hypoxia response element encoded in the proximal promoter of this catecholamine gene. Her investigations employ molecular, biochemical and cellular approaches to examine transcriptional, translational and stimulus-coupled release of neurotransmitters, neuroactive peptides and opioids from perinatal adrenal medulla as a mechanism for coping with the metabolic and physiologic stresses resulting from acute hypoxia.

Fellows

Farah Hussain, MD - Dr. Hussain joined our program in July 2016. Dr Hussain, a graduate of Albany Medical College, joins us from her Pediatric Residency at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield Massachusetts. During her residency Dr. Hussain was drawn to becoming a neonatologist after emergently resuscitating a newborn while on her first NICU rotation. Being thrust into this life-threatening situation and successfully reviving the infant made her realize that this was the field she belonged in. Farah's scholarly project is on the effects of body position changes on tissue oxygen extraction.

Ray Lengvilas, MD - Dr. Lengvilas was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He attended the University of California, Irvine and majored Criminology and Biology and then went on to attend medical school at St. George's SOM. Since completing his residency at Loma Linda University Children's Hospital in Southern California, he has been working as the medical director of a non-profit serving the under-served children of San Bernardino County.  He has also served on the Medical Executive and Credentialing Committees as well as vice chair of the Pediatric Department. Additionally, since college, he has been an active volunteer in a nonprofit providing monthly medical services and humanitarian aid in El Hongo, Mexico.  The interim years allowed him to understand, on many levels, that he wanted to spend his life in neonatology. Ray’s interests include spending quality time with his family, reading, personal finance, most outdoor and water endeavors, playing music and attempting to train/tame his hyperactively wild Australian shepherd, Cooper. As to why neonatology, he feels it is the coolest job ever. His nephew was born at 26 weeks and was at UCLA Children's NICU for months, that was 17 years ago.

Leena Mathew, MBBS – Dr. Mathew came to Stony Brook in July 2016. After graduating from the Pushpagiri Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Center in India, Dr. Mathew came to the United States and had several externships in different specialties before starting her Pediatric Residency at Texas Tech University Health Center.  One day, while leading her team in the NICU and successfully resuscitating a newborn, she decided Neonatology was the field she wanted to pursue and  luckily matched with Stony Brook.  Leena's scholarly project is on reliability of oxypneumogram in diagnosis of gastroesophogeal disease.

Hormuz Nicolwala, MD - Dr. Nicolwala was born in the United Kingdom and moved to Texas in 1997. The son of practicing physicians, Hormuz attended Texas A&M University, attaining a Bachelor of Science degree with honors in Biology. Following graduation, he attended Texas A&M Health Science Center for medical school, graduated in 2015. Looking for a new start and a new place to set roots, he attended West Virginia University Pediatric Residency Program for training. Even before starting residency, Hormuz knew he wanted to be a future intensivist. He always had a passion to serve on the front lines, provide care to the sickest children and guide parents through the most difficult of times. In his spare time, he enjoys listening to music having been a former radio DJ in college, attending sporting events and bowling.

Margaret Pearce, MD - Dr. Pearce comes to us from Richmond University Medical Center, an affiliate of The Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where she completed her Pediatric Residency and was Chief resident. Prior to her residency she earned her Bachelor of Science in Health Education and Behavior at the University of Florida and her medical degree at Ross University School of Medicine. During residency, Meg was involved in multiple research/quality improvement projects including Decreasing the Rate of Invalid Newborn Screening Samples in the Newborn Nursery and Childhood Asthma Education, both of which were presented at the AAP National Conference and Exhibition. She also helped to establish the Asthma Coalition of Staten Island. Most of Margret’s free time is spent chasing around her son Ian, who just turned 3 years old but she also enjoys crafting, gardening, and music. She plays the piano and saxophone, and actually had the opportunity to march in the Rose Bowl Parade. Her love for crafting was turned into an online business offering eco-friendly products during undergraduate school,

Nursing Leadership

Lynn Marie Antonawich, MS, RN, Assistant Director of Nursing for the NICU, joined Stony Brook Medicine in 2012. She received her Bachelor of Nursing degree from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh in 1989 and began her nursing career in Labor and Delivery at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip. After five years, she moved to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where she helped to develop the unit to a Level 3 NICU. Lynn earned her Master’s in Nursing Administration from Adelphi University, graduating Magna Cum Laude. Prior to joining Stony Brook, she served as the Nurse Manager for Good Samaritan’s NICU for five years, helping the hospital to obtain Magnet status. She currently serves as a consultant and editor for both Wolters and Kluwer Publishing companies, is a member of both the New York Organization of Nurse Executives and the American Organization of Nurse Executives and is an Active member of the National Association of Neonatal Nurses.

Marianna Lawrence, RNC, is our Regional Perinatal Center Coordinator, a role that includes coordinating outreach education to our affiliated hospitals and transfer of information from obstetrics regarding high-risk pregnancies. Marianna has over 10 years of experience in nursing in both Labor & Delivery and Maternal/Child, working in Mount Sinai Medical Center and North Shore University Hospital. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing in 2005 from New York University. She began her nursing career in the transplant unit of Mount Sinai Medical Center. Most recently, she has spent the past few years as assistant nurse manager for Maternal/Child at Katz Women’s Hospital, where she was also a staff nurse in Labor and Delivery. We are looking forward to Marianna’s contributions to the Regional Perinatal Center at Stony Brook.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioners

Kerry A. Walsh, MS, PNP, NNP-BC - Ms. Walsh is a senior nurse practitioner in the NICU. She earned her Bachelor of Nursing degree from Molloy College in 1986, her MS, PNP in 1992 and her NNP in 1994 from Stony Brook University. She began her career as a Neonatal Nurse in 1986, then pursued her MS as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and joined the medical staff running the transitional nursery. Enthusiastic to continue her education and her desire to care for the sickest, extremely premature infants and their families, she earned a post Master’s, NNP degree. Kerry has been an integral part of the NNP team for the past 20 years and continues to be a leader on the unit. She is involved in teaching nurses, students, residents and fellows. She is an NRP instructor and an expert in newborn resuscitation. She is a member of the transport team and provides outreach services and support to community hospitals in the area. Her special interests include family-centered care, neonatal nutrition and BPD.

Patricia Schwarz, MS, PNP, NNP-BC - Ms. Schwarz is one of our senior practitioners. She earned her BSN (86), MS, PNP (92), NNP (94) from SUNY at Stony Brook. Pat is no stranger to the NICU at Stony Brook. She started her career as a NICU nurse in 1987 and soon showed her leadership skills becoming a nurse clinician in 1990. Ms. Schwarz was a great resource for the staff and participated in staff development and education while managing the NICU. Gaining her MS as a Pediatric NP she joined the medical team running the transitional nursery within the NICU. Eager to continue gaining knowledge in pathophysiology and wanting to care for the extremely premature and sickest of infants, Pat then earned a post Master’s NNP degree bringing the team to four managing 50% of the patients on the unit. For the past 20 years, Patricia has continued to be a strong force of the NNP team. She is an expert in newborn resuscitation and has been an NRP instructor since 1994. She is involved in teaching nurses, residents and fellows on the unit, as well as participating in teaching in the simulation lab. Patricia continues to be a leader on the unit, is a great resource and is always capable of lifting the staff’s morale. Her special interests are neonatal nutrition and family care.

Siobhan Cassidy CNNP, MS - Ms. Cassidy started her career working as a neonatal intensive care nurse here at Stony Brook in 1991. She completed her Master’s Degree in Neonatology and graduated from Stony Brook’s Nurse Practitioner program in 1996. Siobhan has continued to practice at Stony Brook, as she enjoys the educational and research-based setting. She is an active member of the Neonatology team, and believes in family-centered care even in the intensive setting. Siobhan is an NRP provider and instructor, a member of the transport team, and actively provides community outreach service and support with the community hospitals in our area.

Pamela Minett MSN, NNP-BC - Ms. Minett joined Stony Brook University Medical Center in 1990 initially in the pediatric internship program and then transferred to the NICU in 1991. There she worked as a staff nurse while earning both her Bachelor's and Master's degrees at Stony Brook University. In addition, she provided IV therapy and home care services for both pediatric and adult populations. Pamela became a pediatric nurse practitioner in 1995 with a focus in primary care, neurology, endocrinology and cardiology. She then received a Post Master's Certificate and became a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner in 1998. Pam continued working in the NICU with her ongoing dedication and passion for the patients and their families. Pam has become an NRP instructor and enjoys teaching, training and educating new staff as well as trainees. Pam is an active participant in committees, QA improvements, and patient safety initiatives with interests in ventilation/oxygenation protocols, prevention of anemia, feeding and developmental strategies

Charlene Lyons, MSN, NNP - Ms. Lyons graduated from the New York Institute of Technology in 2007 with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing with Magna Cum Laude honors. She began working as a Registered Nurse at Stony Brook in the NICU and became involved with the March of Dimes, the Developmental Committee and became an NRP Instructor. She earned her Master of Science from Stony Brook University as a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner in May 2013, where she completed a Literature Review "Creating a Standard of Practice: Term Infants with Rule Out Sepsis Secondary to Chorioamnioitis." Charlene began at Stony Brook Children's as a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner in January 2014.

Annemarie Folken, MSN NNP - Annemarie Whiting is a board certified Neonatal Nurse Practitioner who joined the team at Stony Brook Children’s in 2016. She graduated with her Bachelors’ of Science degree Magna Cum Laude from Mount Saint Mary College. She began her nursing career on an adult Neuro Science Telemetry Unit, but started working in the NICU at Stony Brook in 2012. Annemarie earned her Masters of Science Degree from Stony Brook University in May of 2016. She completed clinical rotations at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Stony Brook Children’s. Her Master’s research project was a literature review titled, “Withholding Feedings During Blood Transfusions: Where is the Evidence? Annemarie’s special interests include necrotizing entercolitis, transfusion related gut injury, transport of critical neonate and delivery room resuscitation. She hopes to persue her Doctorate of Nursing Practice within the next few years.

Jennifer Haas, MS, NNP-BC

Robert Mele, MS, NNP-BC, CCRN - Robert joined the Division of Neonatology after graduating from Stony Brook, School of Nursing with his Master's in Neonatal Health in May 2017. Robert graduated with his Bachelor's degree in Nursing from Hartwick College in 2014 and started his nursing career at UNC Chapel Hill Children's Hospital, where he practiced in their Newborn Critical Care Center. Robert is double-board certified as a Neonatal Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Board Certified (NNP-BC) by the National Certification Corporation. He was recently admitted to Duke University, School of Nursing to work on his Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Robert's professional interests include treatment of the Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA), pathophysiology of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension (PPHN), and learning more about neonatal physiology. Robert is most excited about joining the Stony Brook NICU team since he will be working alongside team members who cared for him and his siblings when they were born prematurely at twenty-nine weeks gestation.

Susan Katz, DNP, PNP CPST-I - Dr. Katz is a senior nurse practitioner in pediatrics. She is the Infant Apnea Program Coordinator and a Pediatric Injury Prevention Program Coordinator. She earned her Bachelor of Nursing degree from Molloy College in 1986, her MS, PNP in 1996 and her Doctorate of Nursing practice in 2010 from Stony Brook University. She was the very first Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician and Instructor in the state of New York and has been instrumental in creating the well-established child passenger safety program throughout New York State, including but not limited to being a founding member of the New York State Child Passenger Safety Board and Annual Tri- State Child Passenger Safety Annual Conference planning committee. She has been published in peer review journals and has presented at local, national and international conferences. She is involved in teaching nurses, students, residents and fellows. Susan is an active member of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) and is currently a board member of the Long Island Chapter of NAPNAP. Her special interests are pediatric injury prevention with a focus on safe sleep in child passenger safety.