- Early career investigator
Thomas Hooven, MD is a neonatologist and principal investigator of a microbiology laboratory focused on newborn infectious diseases. He came to Pittsburgh from Columbia University, where he completed his pediatrics and subspecialty training, and also served as Chief Pediatric Resident. A former fellow in the NIH-funded Pediatric Scientist Development Program, his research is centered on improving our understanding of perinatal bacterial infections. A current focus is on group B Streptococcus (GBS), which is a leading cause of infectious complications during the neonatal period. The lab is also developing advanced bioinformatic methods to predict and prevent necrotizing enterocolitis, a devastating intestinal disease of prematurity, mediated in part by abnormal bacterial colonization of the intestines. Questions that his research program aims to address include: Why are newborn babies at dramatically increased risk of acquiring certain bacterial infections? What are the cellular mechanisms by which GBS avoids destruction by the immune system? Are there common features that link GBS infections to other infectious diseases frequently encountered in the NICU? Can machine learning approaches predict complex, multifactorial neonatal diseases from a limited, sparse dataset? The Hooven lab’s work is geared toward making discoveries that can be translated from the laboratory to the bedside, with the hope of eventually decreasing the burden of infectious complications for all babies and their families. He has ongoing NIH funding in the form of K08 and R21 awards from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and also receives research support from i4Kids, The Children's Trust, and the RK Mellon Institute for Pediatric Research.