By ELLEN GOLDBAUM
Published March 22, 2023
A UB physician who specializes in caring for newborns will receive the Physician of the Year Award from The Western New York Perinatal Bereavement Network Inc. (WNYPBN).
Praveen K. Chandrasekharan, associate professor of pediatrics in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB and a neonatologist with UBMD Pediatrics, will be recognized at the organization’s annual gala event on March 24.
Chandrasekharan is being honored for his work as both a clinician at John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital and a researcher at the Jacobs School. The citation notes that his research “allows him to study factors which may impact viable and successful newborn pregnancy and delivery and prevention of neonatal demise.”
The organization cites his translational research on neonatal resuscitation and placental transfusion, which improves outcomes in a newborn who isn’t crying or exhibiting healthy response by providing cardiopulmonary resuscitation while also providing extra blood from the placenta before the umbilical cord is cut. This work was the subject of an “editor’s highlight” and podcast in the journal Pediatric Research.
Chandrasekharan explains that everyone who works in the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, understands they are working with the most vulnerable patients and that infant mortality, unfortunately, is part of that reality.
That understanding took on new meaning when, in his first year of fellowship at UB, Chandrasekharan and his wife, Munmun Rawat, assistant professor of pediatrics in the Jacobs School, who also happens to be a neonatologist with UBMD Pediatrics, lost their first child to miscarriage.
“Most of the time as a physician you’re not on the other side,” he says, “so you understand by knowledge empirically, but practically experiencing those feelings as a parent in the NICU helps you understand even more what a parent’s fears are. Since we had that loss, it makes you better able to help other parents because you know what it means to go through it.”
The experience also gave him a sense of the importance of an organization like the WNYPBN, noting that the organization’s support for him and his wife was a welcome surprise.
In its citation, the WNYPBN notes that Chandrasekharan’s clinical position in the NICU “has fostered further interest in this field as he supports bereaved parents of Western New York with both antenatal and postnatal loss with the expectation of decreasing these morbidities.” The citation states he is being recognized for his support of bereaved families, which he demonstrates through his research and his clinical work.
“To get this award and to be appreciated in such a manner is a great honor, and it makes me very grateful,” he says. “I am pleased and humbled at the same time.”
Chandrasekharan is currently funded with an R01 grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the NIH. He mentors fellows, residents and medical students in translational and clinical research at the Jacobs School.
His neonatology fellows are continuing the translational work on neonatal resuscitation that they began under his supervision, with support from funders ranging from the American Academy of Pediatrics Neonatal Resuscitation Program to the ZOLL Foundation. They have also been invited to present their research at meetings of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Society of Pediatric Research, European and Japanese Pediatric Society.
Chandrasekharan also provides clinical services at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital.