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Mestan Lab - Fetal programming

The Mestan lab studies the fetal and early origins of childhood diseases, through the comprehensive investigation of cord blood and placental biospecimens linked to maternal and infant outcomes. We seek to understand the complex mechanisms by which events and exposures during pregnancy lead to adverse neonatal outcomes, to identify predictive markers, and to develop therapies that will prevent and treat childhood diseases. Specifically, our lab is currently studying how changes in stem and progenitor cells in cord blood and tissues, coupled with placental vascular dysfunction, leads to neonatal chronic cardiopulmonary diseases such as bronchopulmonary dysplasia and pulmonary hypertension. By understanding such mechanisms of fetal programming, we can help develop promising treatments to restore and protect the developing lungs in critically ill newborn infants.

Current research projects

Project title: Evaluation of Stem and Progenitor Cells from Umbilical Cord Blood and Tissues for Therapeutic Use in Premature Infants.

Description: The goals of this project are to develop a research biobank of umbilical cord blood and tissues, and to evaluate the cellular composition, hematopoietic potential, and expansion of cord blood and tissue-derived stem and progenitor cells.

Project title: The Role of Placental Maternal Vascular Underperfusion in Neonatal Pulmonary Hypertension.

Description: The goal of this project is to elucidate the mechanism by which placental vascular disease leads to the pulmonary vascular disease through investigation of mouse models of hyperoxia-induced lung injury combined with in vitro studies of cord blood-derived fetal monocytes.


  1. Mestan KK, Check J, Minturn L, Yallapragada S, Farrow KN, Liu X, Su E, Porta N, Gotteiner N, Ernst LM. Placental Pathologic Changes of Maternal Vascular Underperfusion in Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia and Pulmonary Hypertension, Placenta 2014 Aug; 35(8): 570-4. PMCID4119480.
  2. Su EJ, Xin H, Yin P, Dyson M, Coon J, Farrow KN, Mestan KK, Ernst LM. Impaired fetoplacental angiogenesis in growth-restricted fetuses with abnormal umbilical artery Doppler velocimetry is mediated by aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator (ARNT). J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2015 Jan; 100(1): E30-40.
  3. Bharat A, Bhorade SM, Morales-Nebreda L, Soberanes S, Ridge K, Mestan KK, Perlman H, Budinger GS, Misharin AV. Flow cytometry reveals similarities between lung macrophages in human and mice. American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology, 2015 Aug; Epub ahead of print. PMID26274047.
  4. Yallapragada S, Mestan KK, Palac HL, Porta NF, Gotteiner NL, Hamvas A, Grobman WA, Ernst LM. Placental villous vascularity is decreased in premature infants with bronchopulmonary dysplasia-associated pulmonary hypertension. Pediatric Developmental Pathology 2015 Sept; Epub ahead of print PMID26366786.
  5. Mestan KK, Gotteiner N, Porta N, Grobman W, Su E, Ernst LM. Cord Blood Biomarkers of Placental Maternal Vascular Underperfusion Predict Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia-Associated Pulmonary Hypertension, Journal of Pediatrics 2017 Feb [Epub ahead of print] PMID28162769 (Journal In Process).
  6. Mithal LB, Palac HL, Yogev R, Ernst LM, Mestan KK. Cord Blood Acute Phase Reactants Predict Early Onset Neonatal Sepsis in Preterm Infants, PLoS One 2017 Jan; 12(1): e0168677. PMCID: PMC5207723.

Laboratory members

Principal Investigator: Karen Mestan, MD, MSCI
Lab Manager: Robert Birkett, BS
Clinical Research Nurse: Juanita Saqibuddin, RN, BSN
Research Nurse: Kelli Stephens
Neonatology Fellow: Andrew Franklin, MD
Neonatology Fellow: Abhineet Sharma

Contact information

Karen Mestan, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine; Attending Physician, Lurie Children's, Division of Neonatology
Department Office: 312.227.4190
Office: 312.227.5283

Email: Karen Mestan