Pediatrics expert, geneticist Diana Bianchi to head NIH’s national institute for child health

She will oversee research on pediatric health and development, maternal health, reproductive health and intellectual and developmental disabilities.
By Bernie Monegain
10:20 AM

Diana W. Bianchi, MD, is stepping up as director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

"Diana's accomplishments as a prenatal geneticist, along with her leadership, clinical and research experience in both pediatrics and obstetrics, make her ideally suited to lead NICHD," Francis Collins, MD, director of the National Institutes of Health said in announcing her appointment.

Bianchi is expected to join NIH on Oct. 31, 2016.

She will oversee research on pediatric health and development, maternal health, reproductive health, and intellectual and developmental disabilities. NICHD has an annual budget of about $1.3 billion, to support research grants and contracts at universities and other institutions across the country and overseas and an intramural research program of scientists working at NIH.

The mission: Enhance lives throughout all stages of human development, from preconception through adulthood, and to improve the health of children, adults, families and communities.

Bianchi is the founding executive director of the Mother Infant Research Institute and vice chair for pediatric research with the Floating Hospital for Children and Tufts Medical Center in Boston, where she is also a professor of pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology at Tufts University School of Medicine and the editor-in-chief of the international journal Prenatal Diagnosis.

A practicing medical geneticist with special expertise in reproductive genetics, Bianchi's research focuses on prenatal genomics with the goal of advancing noninvasive prenatal DNA screening and diagnosis to develop new therapies for genetic disorders that can be administered prenatally.

After medical school at Stanford University, she completed her residency training in pediatrics at Boston Children's Hospital and her postdoctoral fellowship training in medical genetics and neonatal-perinatal medicine at Harvard Medical School. She is board-certified in all three specialties.

Bianchi succeeds Catherine Y. Spong, MD, who served ably as acting director of NICHD over the past year.

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