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Click HERE to download the program booklet.

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Catherine Lebel, Ph.D.


Associate Professor, Radiology

University of Calgary

"The Pregnancy during the COVID-19 Pandemic study and early infant outcomes"

Catherine Lebel is an Associate Professor of Radiology at the University of Calgary and a Canada Research Chair in Pediatric Imaging. She leads the Child Brain & Mental Health Program at the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute and is a member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. 


Dr. Lebel received her PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Alberta and completed postdoctoral training in Neurology and Pediatrics at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research uses MRI to study how brain structure and function change with age in typical children and those with neurodevelopmental disorders, including fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and learning disabilities. She also examines how brain structure and function are related to cognitive, behavioral, and environmental factors, including the prenatal environment. 

Livio Provenzi, Ph.D.


Researcher and Psychotherapist

IRCCS Mondino Foundation, Pavia (Italy)

"The hidden pandemic: Psychobiological footprints of prenatal COVID-related stress"

Livio Provenzi is a researcher and psychotherapist at the IRCCS Mondino Foundation in Pavia, Italy. He obtained the PhD in Psychology and the specialty in Psychodynamic psychotherapy in 2016. His research is focused on the psychobiological correlates of early stress and care exposures in infants at developmental risk and their parents. Thanks to a multi-disciplinary group, his research integrates methodologies and techniques typical of the infant research field with innovative biomarkers from neuroendocrinology, epigenetics and neuroscience. During the last five years, his research on the epigenetic correlates of pain-related stress in very preterm newborns awarded him as the recipient of early career awards from Pediatric Research and Acta Paediatrica.


Moriah Thomason, Ph.D.


NYU Langone Health

Moriah Thomason is the Barakett Associate Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Population Health in the New York University School of Medicine. She formerly served as Director of the Perinatal Neural Connectivity Unit within the intramural Perinatology Research Branch of NICHD/NIH. Her published research addresses principals of neural development beginning in utero. Her current NIH grants examine environmental factors with potential to influence functional neurocircuitry of the developing brain. She received her undergraduate training at UC Berkeley, and her graduate and postdoctoral training at Stanford and MIT in Neuroscience. Her work has been featured on NPR All Things Considered, BBC World Service, Huffington Post, MIT Technology Review, New Scientist, and most recently, in Science, Nature Medicine and National Geographic.  She is a standing member of the Child Psychopathology and Developmental Disabilities (CPDD) study section within the Center for Scientific Review, and in 2019 received the honor of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) from the Office of the President of the United States.

Click HERE to view all abstracts submitted to our Summit.


Presley Nichols, MD

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Click HERE to access Presley's abstract.

"Impact of Maternal SARS-CoV-2 Status on Breastfeeding Practices in the COMBO Cohort"

Affiliation: Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) Division of Pediatric Endocrinology Diabetes and Metabolism


Presley Nichols is a pediatric endocrinology fellow at Columbia University Irving Medical Center where she also completed her residency in pediatrics. She is also completing a Masters in Patient Oriented Research at the Mailman School of Public Health. Her research during fellowship has been centered around fetal and infant growth following maternal SARS-CoV-2 exposure which has led to collaborations with colleagues in the newborn nursery who are studying breastfeeding practices in the same cohort of infants.

Additional Authors

  • Lauren Walzer - CUIMC Department of Pediatrics

  • Monica Amoo-Achampong - CUIMC Department of Pediatrics

  • Margaret Kyle - CUIMC Department of Pediatrics

  • Cristina Fernandez - CUIMC Department of Pediatrics

  • Melissa Glassman - CUIMC Department of Pediatrics

  • Dani Dumitriu - CUIMC Department of Pediatrics

Elizabeth K. Wood, Ph.D.


Click HERE to access Elizabeth's abstract.

"COVID-19 Pandemic Exposure is Associated with Increased Gestational Weight Gain"

Affiliation: Oregon Health & Science University


Dr. Elizabeth Wood (she/her/hers) received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Brigham Young University in 2020. Her doctoral training involved utilizing translational models to understand the impact of genetics, temperament, and early life adversity on developmental outcomes, especially as they relate to developmental psychopathology, including substance abuse, anxiety, self-injury, compulsive behavior, sleep problems, and aggression. She has expertise in behavior, the mother-infant relationship, the neurobiology of addiction, and child development. Dr. Wood is a post-doctoral trainee at Oregon Health & Science University studying under the mentorship of Drs. Elinor L. Sullivan, Joel T. Nigg, and Hanna C. Gustafsson. She is currently involved in identifying risk factors for poor mental and physiological health among pregnant women and their offspring.

Additional Authors

  • Hanna C. Gustafsson - Oregon Health & Science University Department of Psychiatry

  • Joel T. Nigg - Oregon Health & Science University Department of Psychiatry

  • Elinor L. Sullivan - Oregon Health & Science University Department of Psychiatry, Oregon National Primate Research Center Division of Neuroscience

Michele Stites, Ed.D.

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Click HERE to access Michele's abstract.

"“It just doesn’t work: Parents’ views about distance learning for young children with special needs"

Affiliation: University of Maryland Baltimore County


Dr. Michele Stites is an associate professor in the Department of Education at UMBC where she serves as the program director for Early Childhood Education and teaches courses in mathematics and special education. She holds a doctorate of education from the George Washington University and was classroom teacher for ten years (PK-5 and special education). Prior to coming to UMBC she served as the Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) Specialist for Anne Arundel County Public Schools. Dr. Stites’ has published over 20 scholarly articles and frequently presents at professional conferences. Recently, her work has been published in the Conversation, Early Education and Development, and the Journal of Early Childhood Research. She also an author of the book Families, Schools, and Communities: Building Partnerships for Educating Children. Dr. Stites’ research focuses on mathematics instruction for young children with and without disabilities, inclusive classrooms, and teacher education. In addition to her research and teaching, she holds an elected position with Association of Maryland Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMMTE) and serves on the advisory board for the Maryland Early Childhood Leadership Program (MECLP).

Additional Authors

  • Susan Sonnenschein - University of Maryland Baltimore County

  • Julie Grossman - Prince George's County Public Schools

Rachel Pride, MPH

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Click HERE to access Rachel's abstract.

"Neurodevelopmental differences in infants exposed to SARS-CoV-2 in utero: Preliminary findings from the ACEND Study"

Affiliation: Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Psychiatry


Rachel Pride, MPH is a maternal and child health researcher working on the Brain health Begins Before Birth (B4) initiative at Mass General Hospital, a group of studies related to in utero and early-life risk and protective factors influencing child brain development. In addition to her work at MGH, Rachel has also assisted with research and evaluation projects with the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, The New York Times Magazine, and Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. Rachel's research and professional interests include birth justice; substance use harm reduction; and disparities in reproductive health care access and utilization, as well as harnessing clinical education as a point of intervention. Rachel is a graduate of the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health where she focused in Population and Family Health, and she attended DePaul University in Chicago for her BS in Neuroscience.

Additional Authors

  • Jannely Villarreal - MGH Department of Psychiatry

  • Erin Dunn, ScD, MPH - MGH Department of Psychiatry, MGH Center for Genomic Medicine

  • Rakesh Karmacharya, MD, PhD - MGH Department of Psychiatry, MGH Center for Genomic Medicine

  • Julie Levison, MD, MPH - MGH Department of Medicine

  • Paul Lerou, MD - Mass General Hospital for Children, MGH Neonatology and Newborn Medicine

  • Andrea Edlow, MD, MSc - MGH Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

  • Josh Roffman, MD, MMSc - MGH Department of Psychiatry

Karen G. Martinez-Gonzalez 
MD, M.Sc.

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"Findings from the Puerto Rico COVGEN Hub"

Affiliation: University of Puerto Rico (UPR) Department of Psychiatry


Karen G. Martinez, MD, MSc is a child and adolescent psychiatrist in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She is an Associate Professor at the University of Puerto Rico where she directs the Center for the Study and Treatment of Fear and Anxiety and is the Chair of the Department of Psychiatry. She also completed a Post-Doctoral Master’s in Clinical and Translational Research in 2006 and is now the Principal Investigator (R25MD007607) and Director of this program. She is also the Principal Investigator (R21MD013652) of a grant studying the epigenetic and microbial profile of prenatal stress related to Hurricane María. She is the president of the Association for Clinical and Translational Science (ACTS) and was appointed to the Puerto Rico COVID-19 Medical Task Force by the Governor.

Additional Authors

  • Marianela Rivera-Reynaldo - UPR Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology

  • Zilkia Rivera-Orraca - UPR Department of Pediatrics

  • Gian Ramos Monserrate - UPR Department of Psychiatry

Click HERE to access Karen's abstract.


Elysia Larson, Sc.D., MPH

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Click HERE to access Elysia's abstract.

"Doulas provide needed emotional support during the perinatal period"

Affiliation: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center / Harvard Medical School


Dr. Larson’s research interests focus on improving health system quality and responsiveness in both low- and middle-income countries and North America. She uses epidemiologic and econometric methods to measure quality of healthcare and evaluate health system interventions and reforms. Her areas of expertise include implementation science methods, primary data collection/field research, and quality of care.


Dr. Larson’s work is at the intersection of the health system and the community. Two of her current studies focus on improving care provided by BIDMC and affiliated health centers. The first study is a community-based participatory research project that assesses women’s preferences for doula care, identifies pathways through which doulas may ameliorate maternal mental health, and develops a research agenda at the intersection of doulas, racial disparities, and maternal mental health. The second project combines health system quality improvement interventions (AIM bundles) with community-linked initiatives (doula support) in an NIH-funded project (PI: Amutah-Onukagha).

Additional Authors

  • Ronald M. Cornely - Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

  • Ebunoluwa Falade - Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

  • Laura E. Dodge - Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center / Harvard Medical School

  • Caroline Ezekwesili - Boston University School of Public Health

  • Christina Gebel - Boston University School of Public Health

  • Tajh Ferguson - Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

  • Nancy Byatt - University of Massachusetts Medical School

Renee Tristano, BSPH

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Click HERE to access Renee's abstract.

"Investigating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on very low birthweight infants in southeast Louisiana NICUs"

Affiliation: Tulane University School of Medicine

Renee Tristano (she, her, hers) is a clinical research coordinator for the New Orleans Express Yourself Project, a quality improvement collaborative which aims to increase breastfeeding rates for very low birth weight infants through its work with eight neonatal intensive care units in southeast Louisiana. Renee graduated from Tulane University in May of 2021 with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health and ultimately aspires to have a career in the healthcare field as a medical doctor. Her areas of interest include reducing racial and ethnic health disparities, investigating the roles of early life adversity and resilience in child development and long-term health outcomes, and using preventive care to support the health and wellness of underserved populations.

Additional Authors

  • Sofia Cabrera - Tulane University School of Medicine

  • Stacy S. Drury - Tulane University School of Medicine

Gerry Giesbrescht, Ph.D.

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Click HERE to access Gerry's abstract.

"Stress susceptibility and resilience in the Canadian Pregnancy During the COVID-19 Pandemic study"

Affiliation: University of Calgary

Dr. Giesbrecht is a registered Clinical Psychologist in the province of Alberta and Associate Professor in the Departments of Paediatrics and Community Health Sciences at the University of Calgary. His research program focuses on the psychobiology of stress, and especially on the effects of in utero and early life stress on child development. He is currently studying the effects of risk and resilience factors, such as adverse childhood experiences, nutrition, temperament, and the gut microbiota on children’s neurodevelopment and mental health outcomes. The overall objectives of his research program are to identify the mechanisms by which early life exposure to stress becomes biologically embedded in children’s development, to identify risk and resilience factors that modify the effects of early life stress exposure on children’s development, and to develop effective intervention and prevention strategies to prevent or reduce the effects of early life stress exposure on children’s development.

Additional Authors

  • Catherine Lebel - University of Calgary

  • Lianne Tomfohr-Madsen - University of Calgary

Morgan Firestein, Ph.D.

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Click HERE to access Morgan's abstract.

"Maternal SARS CoV-2 infection during pregnancy and infant neurodevelopment at 8-11 months of age

Affiliation: Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Dr. Firestein is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center. In collaboration with the Departments of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Pediatrics, her research spans the prenatal through early childhood periods to identify prenatal determinants of child neurodevelopmental outcomes. She studies how the placenta adapts in response to maternal cues and acts as a fetal barrier against maladaptive maternal physiological processes. An overarching goal of her research is to integrate the fields of psychiatry, obstetrics, and pediatrics to improve identification of and early intervention for individuals at neuropsychiatric risk.

Additional Authors

  • Yunzhe Hu - Columbia University Irving Medical Center

  • Lauren Shuffrey - Columbia University Irving Medical Center

  • Jennifer Barbosa - Columbia University Irving Medical Center

  • Violet Hott - Columbia University Irving Medical Center

  • Catherine Bianco - Columbia University Irving Medical Center

  • Cynthia Rodriguez - Columbia University Irving Medical Center, New York State Psychiatric Institute

  • Sabrina Hyman - Columbia University Irving Medical Center

  • Maha Hussain - Columbia University Irving Medical Center

  • Mary Bence - Columbia University Irving Medical Center

  • Melanie Tejeda Romero - Columbia University Irving Medical Center

  • Helen Tzul Lopez - Columbia University Irving Medical Center

  • Grace Smotrich - Columbia University Irving Medical Center

  • Mia Kyler - Columbia University Irving Medical Center

  • Kally O'Reily - Columbia University Irving Medical Center, New York State Psychiatric Institute

  • William Fifer - Columbia University Irving Medical Center

  • Catherine Monk - Columbia University Irving Medical Center

  • Dani Dumitriu - Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Tzipi Horowitz-Kraus, Ph.D.

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Click HERE to access Tzipi's abstract.

"Learning in COVID-19 era: Is reading from a screen similar to reading from a printed paper? An electroencephalograph study"

Affiliation: Technion - Israel

Tzipi Horowitz-Kraus, PhD is Assistant Professor of Neuroscience in the Faculty of Education in Science and Technology and the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering, Director of the Educational Neuroimaging Center (ENIC), recipient of an Endowed Chair of Excellency, and an Alon scholar at the Technion – Israeli Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel. She also is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics in the College of Medicine, University of Cincinnati and the Scientific Director of the Reading and Literacy Discovery Center in the Department of General and Community Pediatrics at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. Dr. Horowitz-Kraus is the principle investigator for several Pediatric Neuroimaging Research projects funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to advance an understanding of neural circuits supporting executive functions and reading abilities in the typically and atypically developing brain. Dr Horowitz-Kraus is a pioneer in pointing at the role of cognitive control during reading and language processing and highlighting the neurobiological correlates for these abilities. Her research utilizes neuroimaging tools to characterize the effects of nature and nurture on the developing brain in children.

Additional Authors

  • Michal Zivan - Technion

  • Sasson Vaknin - Technion

  • Nimrod Peleg -Technion


Stacy S. Drury, MD, Ph.D.

Tulane University School of Medicine
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry



Dani Dumitriu MD, Ph.D.

Columbia University Irving Medical Center
Department of Psychiatry and Pediatrics



Mia Mclean, Ph.D.

BC Children's Hospital Research Institute
University of British Columbia



William (Bill) Fifer, Ph.D.

Columbia University Medical Center
New York State Psychiatric Institute



Click HERE to view accepted infographics and learn about infographic presenters.


"How will international alliance in response to a global event advance science, practice, to policy about children and families?"

Moderated by

Amy Elliot, Ph.D.

Avera Research Institute Center for Pediatric & Community Research

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