Despite a resume full of her own achievements in pediatric research, Diana W. Bianchi, M.D., takes the most pride in the accomplishments of the scientists she has mentored over the years.
She’ll soon have the opportunity to foster the work of many more as she starts her new role as the director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).Dr. Bianchi
“I’ve been a professor and clinician scientist for many years, and this is really a wonderful opportunity to be able to give back at a national level,” Dr. Bianchi said. “There’s so many challenges now in protecting clinician scientists and advocating for research, and I just really wanted to be able to be part of the conversation and to shape some of the strategy.”
Dr. Bianchi, who is board certified in pediatrics, genetics and neonatal-perinatal medicine, serves as founding executive director of the Mother Infant Research Institute at Tufts Medical Center and vice chair for pediatric research at Floating Hospital for Children. She also is the Natalie V. Zucker Professor of Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology at Tufts University School of Medicine and editor-in-chief of Prenatal Diagnosis.
Since medical school, Dr. Bianchi’s work has focused on noninvasive prenatal testing. Earlier this year, she won the Maureen Andrew Mentor Award from the Society for Pediatric Research, and in 2015, the Academy awarded her the Neonatal Landmark Award.
“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,” National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., said in a news release.
Clifford W. Bogue, M.D., FAAP, chair of the AAP Committee on Pediatric Research, knows Dr. Bianchi through their work with the Society for Pediatric Research and called her “an excellent choice” to lead NICHD.
“I really was impressed with her demeanor, her leadership and her ability to collaborate and find consensus on the various issues that we faced as we tried to support pediatric research and pediatric researchers in the country,” Dr. Bogue said.
He hopes she can find ways to expand that support and also promote new technologies for treating children.
Dr. Bianchi, who takes the reins Oct. 31, said her goals include raising the payline for NICHD researchers and encouraging innovation.
“To be able to advocate for research to improve the health of the populations I’ve cared for my entire life, that being infants, children, pregnant women, people with disabilities, it’s just a very special opportunity,” she said.