Yao Wu, Ph.D.

Research Faculty (Asst. Prof)

Yao Wu, Ph.D., is a research faculty (assistant professor) whose research interests include analyzing fetal and neonatal brain MRI images; understanding brain development in preterm infants and babies with congenital heart disease (CHD); evaluating the effects of prenatal maternal psychological distress on fetal and neonatal brain development; and developing methods to better support pregnant women to manage stress, anxiety and depression. Dr. Wu’s academic training and research experience have provided her with an excellent background in human brain image analysis. As an undergraduate student, she gained knowledge in computer science, image processing, human anatomy and psychology. During her Ph.D. studies at Southern Medical University, she conducted research on medical image analysis, developing automatic methods to segment brain tumors and prostate cancer in medical images, as well as using MR images to predict CT images, which is clinically desired for dose planning in MR‐based radiation therapy and attenuation correction in PET/MR. In the second year of her Ph.D. study, Dr. Wu studied at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she developed novel registration methods for infant brain MR images. Her current research at Children’s National Hospital is informed by her predoctoral and doctoral trainings. After joining the Developing Brain Institute at Children's National, her research has focused on analyzing fetal and neonatal brain MRI images, and evaluating the impact of prenatal maternal psychological distress on brain development in healthy and CHD fetuses as well as on long-term neurodevelopment in infants. She has presented research from both her Ph.D. and postdoc studies at many prestigious national conferences and has published in top-tier, peer reviewed journals.

Address: 111 Michigan Ave NW, Washington, DC 20010
Email: fetalbrain@childrensnational.org
Department: MRI Lab

Recent Publications & Presentations

2022 | April
Wu Y, Espinosa KM, Barnett SD, Kapse A, Quistorff JL, Lopez C, Andescavage N, Pradhan S, Lu YC, Kapse K, Henderson D, Vezina G, Wessel D, du Plessis AJ, Limperopoulos C.
Association of elevated maternal psychological distress, altered fetal brain, and offspring cognitive and social-emotional outcomes at 18 months. JAMA Netw Open. 2022 Apr 1;5(4):e229244. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.9244. PMID: 35486403; PMCID: PMC9055453. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35486403/
Wu Y, Lu YC, Kapse K, Jacobs M, Andescavage N, Donofrio MT, Lopez C, Quistorff JL, Vezina G, Krishnan A, du Plessis AJ, Limperopoulos C
In utero MRI identifies impaired second trimester subplate growth in fetuses with congenital heart disease
Cereb Cortex. 2021 Oct 28:bhab386. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhab386. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34882775 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34882775/
Espinosa KM, Julian M, Wu Y, Lopez C, Donofrio MT, Krishnan A, Goudar S, Bowers S, Douglas-Barnett S, Limperopoulos C, Le HN
"The Mental Health Piece is Huge": perspectives on developing a prenatal maternal psychological intervention for congenital heart disease
Cardiol Young. 2021 Sep 30:1-8. doi: 10.1017/S1047951121004030. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34588092. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34588092/
Wu Y, Andescavage N, Lopez C, Quistorff JL, Donofrio MT, du Plessis AJ, Limperopoulos C.
Maternal mental distress and cortisol levels in pregnancies with congenital heart disease. Cardiol Young. 2021 Aug 31:1-5. doi: 10.1017/S1047951121003504. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34462025. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34462025/
Lu YC, Kapse K, Andersen N, Quistorff J, Lopez C, Fry A, Cheng J, Andescavage N, Wu Y, Espinosa K, Vezina G, du Plessis A, Limperopoulos C.
Association between socioeconomic status and in utero fetal brain development. JAMA Network Open. Published 2021, Mar 1;4(3):e213526. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.3526. PMID: 33779746. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33779746/
Wu Y, Limperopoulos C.
Pregnancy stress, anxiety, and depression sequela on neonatal brain development-reply.
JAMA Pediatrics. 2020 Jun 20. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.1079. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics
Wu Y, Stoodley C, Brossard-Racine M, Kapse K, Vezina G, Murnick J, du Plessis, AJ, Limperopoulos C.
Altered local cerebellar and brainstem development in preterm infants.
Neuroimage. 2020 Jun;213:116702. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2020.116702. Epub 2020 Mar 5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32147366/
Wu Y, Lu YC, Jacobs M, Pradhan S, Kapse K, Zhao L, Andescavage N, Vezina G, du Plessis A, Limperopoulos C.
Association of prenatal maternal psychological distress with fetal brain growth, metabolism, and cortical maturation.
JAMA Network Open. 2020 Jan 29;3(1):e1919940. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.19940. PMC6991285 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31995213/
Wu Y, Kapse K, Jacobs M, Andescavage N, Donofrio MT, Krishnan A, Vezina G, Wessel D, du Plessis A, Limperopoulos C.
Association of maternal psychological distress with in utero brain development in fetuses with congenital heart disease.
JAMA Pediatrics. 2020 Jan 13;174(3):e195316. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.5316 PMCID: PMC6990726 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31930365/