KL2 Scholar Awarded K23 Award

Dr. Jeannie Visootsak is an ACTSI MSCR/KL2 graduate and was awarded the NIH K23 Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award for the project Neurodevelopmental Impact of Congenital Heart Defects in Down Syndrome. Dr. Visootsak's goal for this research is to optimize the neurodevelopmental outcomes of children with Down syndrome (DS) and congenital heart defect (CHD) and, eventually, with other DS-associated medical conditions.

Down syndrome is the most common genetic cause of mental retardation, with an incidence of 1 in 733 live births. Nearly half of all children with DS are born with a congenital heart defect. As these children increasingly survive cardiac surgery, characterization of their early developmental trajectories is crucial for designing early interventions to maximize individual potential. As a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician committed to enhancing the quality of life for individuals with DS, this research project dovetails seamlessly into the research arm of the Down Syndrome Center, with its infrastructure built on 18 years of population-based DS research. VIDEO

Dr. Visootsak, Assistant Professor in Human Genetics and Pediatrics, is the Medical Director of the Down Syndrome and Fragile X Syndrome Clinics. She received her bachelor's degree from University of Southern California and MD from UCLA School of Medicine. She completed her Pediatric training and then a fellowship in Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, UCLA School of Medicine. She has been awarded the Emory Egleston Children's Research Center grant, the National Down Syndrome Society Charles J. Epstein Research Award to conduct research in Down syndrome, and recently won first place at the Great American Baking Contest-Atlanta for her green tea almond cheesecake.