Staff Spotlight – Christina Cifra, MD, MS

Dr. Cifra is Clinical Assistant Professor, and has been in the Division of Critical Care since 2014.

My husband, Erik, is a sociologist and teaches at the university. He is also my collaborator on research studies involving large databases and requiring coding skills to crunch numbers. We have two children, Hank, 3 years and Tilly, 9 months old. Oh, and we have two cats – Izzy and Hannah.

In my free time I spend time with my kids. It’s very hard to have hobbies now since my children are young and I am early in my career. I do still get a lot of leisure reading done though not as much as before (I used to read around 3 books a month just for fun). I catch up with family and friends, near and far. And there’s always stuff that needs to be done around the house… very domestic stuff.

This is corny, but I am thankful everyday that I am a pediatric intensivist. My mother was also a pediatric intensivist who pioneered pediatric critical care in the Philippines, and following in her footsteps have been such an honor. I do think I have the best job ever. For funsies though, I would certainly love to be the NY Times 52 Places Traveler – that would be amazing.

In terms of most fascinating place I’ve been, Baltimore is an education. Fascinating in that it taught me a lot about American cities coming as a new immigrant. Iowa is also a special place and I am learning a lot, this time about rural America.

My favorite meal is bacon with sunny-side up eggs and garlic fried rice for breakfast. This is a Filipino treat! Hands down, best meal ever. My husband and I eat this at night too when we’re too lazy to cook. Favorite restaurants: Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore, Clinton St. Social Club here in town.

It’s so hard to pick a favorite book or movie! How about I just tell you about the last 3 books I read? FYI I almost always read non-fiction. 1. Fashion Climbing by Bill Cunningham – awesome autobiography of a beloved NYC institution 2. Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport – I’ve been on a productivity kick lately 3. Thanks, Obama by David Litt – funny and poignant memoir by one of Obama’s speechwriters.

Fun fact: I used to volunteer at an anarchist bookshop/coffeehouse in Baltimore (Red Emma’s, named after Emma Goldman). It was a great way to meet all sorts of different people. I met my husband through friends I met at the bookshop. I had a grand old time in that place!

Staff Spotlight – Mark Olson, PA-C

Mark has been a Physician Assistant in Pediatric Cardiology for 10 years.

I predominantly work in pediatric electrophysiology providing support for pacemakers, implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), electrophysiology studies and ablations, and arrhythmia clinics. I have worked for 10 years at UIHC with all of it in pediatric cardiology. The first several years I worked in the pediatric catheterization lab where I still help from time to time.

I have been married to my wife, Tiffany, for 16 years. We met in college at Brigham Young University but I am originally from Iowa. She taught sixth grade for a few years but now substitute teaches in the Iowa City elementary schools. We have five (5) children ranging in age from 5 to 14 years old.

We love to travel, even with all the kids :). I love reading, especially boring stuff. We are at the point that we get to attend sport and performance activities that our children participate in and we really enjoy it. Recently, I shoveled a lot of snow.

I feel like I have my dream job. I work with a lot of people I enjoy and our division is very supportive in my professional development and just in general. I get a lot of satisfaction from the fact that many of the patients in pediatric cardiology and electrophysiology have a problem that can be “fixed” and they can return to normal or nearly normal activities.

The most fascinating place I’ve ever lived is I lived in Brazil for two years as a missionary.

Favorite book and move: Book: Ender’s Game; Movie: Jurassic Park, Back to the Future, and Zombieland.

If I had 3 wishes, they would be to have a magic power to secretly pay off other people’s debt; have faster than light travel actually be possible (not break causality) and have ships that can regularly do it; and ensure the whole world lives in communities that are free and protected by a constitution that guarantees their rights.

Fun facts:

  • I have proven twice that I can very happily live off a Wig & Pen Union Jack Chicago Style pizza for a week while my wife and children are visiting grandma and grandpa.
  • I have the worst badge picture out there. My badge broke after several years of use and had to be replaced. My new badge picture was taken on the first day of someone’s job in the badge office. I sat down and she immediately took the picture while I was getting ready. I asked her if it looked “ok” and she said it did. I got up to look at it but she had already started printing it. I saw the picture on the screen and said it looked terrible and I wanted a new one. At that point, the new badge had printed and she told me she had to charge me $20 for a new badge. I challenge you to find a worse picture. I have been told I need to get it replaced. As of a short while ago, it began to show up as my Voalte picture and now I get comments about it all the time which I think are hilarious :). I am apparently a little stubborn, as I refuse to pay for another picture.

Staff Spotlight – Stefanie Pirkl, MPA, SPHR

Stefanie has been the Human Resources Director for the Department since August 2015.

I provide leadership to the human resources team that supports the Department of Pediatrics and UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

I was born and raised in north central Iowa. I grew up on a small family farm with my parents and three siblings. I met my husband, Adam, in undergrad and we have been married for 10 wonderful years. We have since been blessed with four children, two boys and two girls: Marcus (8), Ty (6), McKenzie (4) and Tatum (8 months).

In my free time I enjoy spending quality time with family and friends. We enjoy game nights, movie nights, playing sports, and spending time outdoors as a family. We live on a farm west of Iowa City, so we also get to enjoy some quality time doing chores together too. We raise a small cow-calf herd and crops as well.

Growing up, the original Willy Wonka movie was among the favorites for my siblings and me. Creating an environment where everything is edible and delicious was something I could only dream about. Operating a candy store is about as close as I might come to this dream. What interests me most is being in a fun, vibrant environment and seeing the happiness it can bring to children (and adults alike)! And being in close proximity to chocolate wouldn’t be so bad either.

I was fortunate to have many opportunities to travel abroad as part of my undergraduate and graduate programs. One of the most fascinating places I have visited is Stuttgart, Germany; where I had the opportunity to learn about some amazing programs that make it such a great place to live.

Favorite meal or restaurant? I wish I could discriminate a little more, but I tend to enjoy it all. I typically want to enjoy what I eat – sort of that “live to eat” versus “eat to live”. One of my favorite treats is my Grandmother’s pumpkin pie. I have been known to eat an entire pie on Thanksgiving.

Favorite book or movie? Top Gun. Great movie. Even better soundtrack.

Fun fact: By the age of 23, I had visited as many countries in the world as states in the United States. With our growing family, we are focusing more on stateside travels:).

Pediatrics Research Day Poster Session Award Winners

Congratulations to the following award winners for their posters at last Friday’s Pediatrics Research Day on April 5, 2019.

  • Basic Poster Winners
    • Camilla Hippee Measles Virus Exits Primary Human Airway Epithelial Sheets by Infectious Center Sloughing
    • Amy Stanford Human beta defensing-2 significantly decreases intestinal injury in experimental necrotizing enterocolitis.
  • Clinical Poster Winners
    • Jared Peterson Neurocognitive Function in Pediatric Brain Tumor Survivors
    • Matthew Solomon Pediatric Chronic Kidney Disease is Associated with Abnormal White Matter Integrity on Diffusion Tensor Imaging.

Congratulations to all participants and attendees for another successful Pediatrics Research Day!

University Benefits Office Hours at UIHC

Have a question about/for University Benefits? The University Benefits Office has open hours at the UIHC every month. The times for the month of April are below:

  • Wednesday, April 10
    • 10am – 12:30pm, C500-1 GH (5th floor near elevator B).
    • 2pm – 4pm, C500-1 GH (5th floor near elevator B).
  • Saturday, April 13
    • 7pm – 10 pm, Marketplace Dining Room
  • Wednesday, April 24
    • 2pm – 4pm, E178 GH, (1st floor near elevator AA)
    • 7pm – 10 pm, Marketplace Dining Room
  • Saturday, April 27
    • 6:30 – 9:30am, Fountain Dining Room

A flyer to post in your area can also be found here.

Drs. Ashwath and Misurac Named Medical Directors of the PSC.

The Stead Family Department of Pediatrics is pleased to announce new medical directors for the Pediatric Specialty Clinic. Dr. Ravi Ashwath will be the new Medical Director, and Dr. Jason Misurac will be the Associate Medical Director. These roles will be effective as of today, April 1, 2019.

Dr. Ashwath completed his MD at Mysore Medical College in India, pediatric internship and residency at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, NY, fellowship in pediatric cardiology at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, and a fellowship in Advanced Imaging from Boston Children’s Hospital. Dr. Ashwath practiced at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital for almost 13 years prior to joining Iowa in 2017. Dr. Ashwath has been the Imaging Director in Pediatric Cardiology and directs the cardiac MRI imaging. He is also the Program Director of cardiology fellowship program.

Dr. Misurac completed his MD at Indiana University School of Medicine, pediatric residency and pediatric nephrology fellowship at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. Since coming to Iowa in 2015 Dr. Misurac has been very active clinically, both here at the hospital and at outreach clinics in Cedar Falls and Johnston.

Please welcome Drs. Ashwath and Misurac into their new roles. We would also like to thank Dr. Warren Bishop who has served as the Medical Director of the Pediatric Specialty Clinic since 2014. His guidance has been crucial to expanding pediatric specialty services within the Department and around the state, and he has always been a true champion for improving the healthcare for children and their families.

Drs. Bell, Colaizy, and Rysavy Publishes in JAMA Pediatrics

Congratulations to Dr. Bell, Dr. Colaizy, and Dr. Rysavy for their most recent article in JAMA Pediatrics!

Brumbaugh JE, Hansen NI, Bell EF, Sridhar A, Carlo WA, Hintz SR, Vohr BR, Colaizy TT, Duncan AF, Wyckoff MH, Baack ML, Rysavy MA, DeMauro SB, Stoll BJ, Das A, Higgins RD, for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network. Outcomes of Extremely Preterm Infants With Birth Weight Less Than 400 g. JAMA Pediatr. Published online March 25, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.0180.

Conclusions and Relevance Infants born with a birth weight less than 400 g are at high risk of mortality and significant morbidity. Although 21% of infants survived to 18 to 26 months’ corrected age with active treatment, neurodevelopment impairment was common among survivors