Welcome to the Developing Brain Institute
Fetal Research

Welcome to the Developing Brain Institute

Neonatal Research

Welcome to the Developing Brain Institute

Infant/Toddler Research

Welcome to the Developing Brain Institute



(Mothers and Parents Overcoming
Worry & Enhancing Resilience)

Toolkits for parents & clinicians

New Studies

Our Institute at a Glance

"We are developing advanced MRI techniques to examine the structure, connectivity, and metabolism of the brain.."

- Catherine Limperopoulos, Ph.D.
The Developing Brain Institute, directed by Catherine Limperopoulos, Ph.D., is housed in the department of Diagnostic Imaging and Radiology and affiliated with the Fetal and Transitional Medicine and Newborn Medicine Programs at Children’s National Hospital. Our research focuses on the developing brain, in utero, after birth and through preschool.
We are developing advanced MRI techniques to examine the structure, connectivity, and metabolism of the brain in ways that cannot be done with conventional MRI studies. It is our long-term goal to be able to identify babies with impaired brain growth as soon as possible, so that the proper interventions and clinical planning can take place.

Project RESCUE stands for Reducing Elevated Stress from COVID-19 Exposure, and most of the study interventions can be done from the comfort of your home.

In this research study, our team will leverage its mastery of sophisticated magnetic resonance imaging studies to identify the risks of COVID-19-related maternal psychological distress changing how your baby’s brain develops during pregnancy and after birth. This important study aims to answer many pressing questions. With your help, we’ll conduct multiple MR imaging studies.
We’ll perform clinical, genetic, environmental, physiological, behavioral and neuropsychiatric evaluations starting during pregnancy and continuing through the time your child is a preschooler. Because your health and your infant’s well-being are our No. 1 priority, we are working with community partners to weave a comprehensive safety net that strengthens maternal mental health, boosts parental resiliency and enriches infants’ early environment to offset harms experienced in the womb.

Children’s National Hospital on June 30, 2020, announced a transformational $36 million investment from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation.

This is one of the largest awards in the hospital’s history - to provide families with greater access to mental health care and community resources. The Clark Parent & Child Network pairs clinical innovation with community partnerships to support underserved pregnant and postpartum women and children up to age 3.
It will bridge a gap between prenatal care and early childhood development with a focus on mental health.

International Symposium on the Fetal Brain (ISFB)

Every year, Children's National Hospital hosts world-renowned experts in the fields of maternal-prenatal medicine, developmental neuroscience, neurogenetics, prenatal and neonatal neurology and imaging, in advancing fetal brain understanding at the International Symposium on the Fetal Brain in Washington, D.C. Presentations are made by a panel of world-renowned prenatal medicine experts during the symposium.
It has unfortunately become clear that we need to cancel the 2020 International Symposium on the Fetal Brain which was scheduled for September 24 and 25. While this is a great disappointment to us all, we are absolutely committed to continuing with this exciting annual meeting in 2021.

Children’s National serves as magnetic resonance image coordinating center.

Thanks to its unparalleled imaging expertise, Children’s National Hospital has been invited to participate in a groundbreaking, multi-million dollar study to determine how being exposed to opioids in the womb impacts newborns’ long-term brain development. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an estimated 10.3 million U.S. people aged 12 and older misused opioids like heroin in 2018.
This component of the NIH’s massive Helping to End Addiction Long-Term Initiative (HEAL) will enroll pregnant women from four U.S. regions struck hard by the opioid crisis, following these women and their children for years to gauge opioids’ imprint on children’s brains.


We are on a mission to develop the most advanced MRI
techniques that examine the developing fetal brain
and save countless lives.

Contact Us


Education and resources for families and NICU team.

Contact Us


Early intervention services can help infants and toddlers
with disabilities or delays to learn many key skills
and catch up in their development.

Contact Us


Intervening at the earliest opportunity gives children
the best chance to succeed in school and in life.

Contact Us

Latest News View All News

National Maternal & Infant Health 2021 Pre-Summit Video
Facebook | 11 Sept 2021
Staff & volunteers share insights on resilience amid COVID19 pandemic
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Fetal brain scans may forecast autism traits in toddlers
Spectrum News | 7 May 2021
Folded and curved brains tend to show autism-linked behaviors
Read More

Socioeconomics linked to brain development
Verywell Family | 14 April 2021
Expectant moms have the power to change their lives.
Read More

Children's National awarded $4.2M by PCORI.
Children's National | 6 April 2021
Award supports DC mothers and infants.
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Social determinants impact fetal brain
Patient Engagement HIT | 31 March 2021
Low socioeconomic status leads to stress & fetal brain.
Read More
Socioeconomics linked to brain development
PR Newswire | 29 March 2021
Low parental socioeconomic status during pregnancy alters early fetal brain development
Read More

PCORI funds new research
PR Newswire | 16 March 2021
PCORI Board approves $48.5 million to fund new research studies
Read More
Mental distress linked to altered cognitive & motor skills
Read More

Maternal anxiety affects the fetal brain
EurekAlert! | 7 Dec
Anxiety in gestating mothers affects brain development
Read More

Stress during pregnancy may harm baby's brain
CNN | 7 Dec
Stress can affect the developing brain
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Depresión y ansiedad en embarazadas
CNN Español | 7 Dec
Estrés durante el embarazo puede afectar el cerebro del bebé en el vientre
Read More

Clark Foundation | Webinar
clarkparentchildhealth.org | 1 Oct
Innovations in research and practice and working in partnership to help D.C. parents and children.
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Clark Foundation | Pre-summit video
pscp.tv | 9 Sept
Clark Foundation funding can lead to improved health outcomes.
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NBC News | Pregnant in a pandemic
NBC News | 16 Aug
Stress among pregnant women has tripled since the start of the coronavirus.
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Washington Post Live | Maternal Health in America
Washington Post Live | 30 Jun
The health of mothers and infants is top of mind for advocates.
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When pregnant moms are stressed, babies' suffer
EurekAlert | 13 Jan
65% of moms of fetuses with heart conditions are stressed.
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Preterm Infants Need Optimized Nutrition
Medical Research | 18 May
Preterm Infants Need Optimized Nutrition For Maximal Brain Growth.
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Early lipids boost brain growth for vulnerable micro-preemies
Science Daily | 27 April
Dietary lipids provide a much-needed brain boost.
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Safeguarding Fetal Brain Health in Pregnancies Complicated by CHD
Innovation District | 1 August
We have received a Thrasher Research Fund early career award.
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