Barbara Schmidt, MD, FRCP, MSc

Neonatologist, CHOP Newborn Care at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and researcher

Schmidt was recruited to come to CHOP in 2007 from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, where she had built a stellar reputation in researching the most effective treatments for newborns. Last year, she was given the Order of Canada — the highest civilian award in that country — in recognition of her decades of “advancing the care of critically ill newborn infants in Canada and abroad.” For example, she led the Caffeine for Apnea of Prematurity (CAP) trial, an international, multicenter, placebo-controlled randomized study that showed short- and long-term benefits of giving premature infants caffeine.

Breakthrough moment

“Neonatologists used caffeine to treat apnea of prematurity since small and short-term studies had shown that it improved the regularity of breathing. But when I looked for a systematic review, I saw how flimsy the evidence really was. It had not been studied for safety in the NICU and beyond, and there was growing evidence of adverse side effects on the developing brain in animal studies. I felt it was important to design a large trial to prove the safety of the drug.”

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