November 8, 2022

Catherine Spong, MD

Catherine Spong, MD, serves as the Professor and Chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Chief, Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine; Paul C. MacDonald Distinguished Chair in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Dr. Spong received her MD from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1991. After serving as Chief Resident in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, she began her career at National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) as a Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellow, including clinical work at Georgetown University. Then, she became a Clinical Associate and Senior Staff Fellow at the National Institutes of Health and the NICHD’s intramural research program, where she directed a lab, the Unit on Perinatal and Developmental Neurobiology, focusing on neuroprotective peptides and fetal development utilizing models of fetal alcohol syndrome and Down syndrome.

In 2000, she joined NICHD’s extramural program and had a 23-year career where she served in many capacities including as Deputy Director, Acting Director, Associate Director for Extramural Research, Director of the Division of Extramural Research, and Chief of the Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch.

Among Dr. Spong’s areas of expertise are maternal and child health, emphasizing prematurity, fetal complications, and improving child outcomes. One of her major research interests has been the developing fetus. She holds several patents for neuroprotective agents that help prevent fetal injury. Other research interests include improving the understanding of stillbirth, fetal surgery for myelomeningocele, zika in pregnancy, and the human placenta. During her tenure at NICHD, she launched the Human Placenta Project. She is a passionate advocate for inclusion in research for underrepresented groups.

She has received numerous teaching and professional awards including the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine Lifetime Achievement Award, the UMKC Alumnus of the Year Award, numerous National Institutes of Health Director’s Awards, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Distinguished Service Award, and a Surgeon General’s Certificate of Appreciation for her work on prematurity.

Dr. Spong has served on a number of professional and federal boards including the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine, the Reproductive Scientist Development Program, The Federal Interagency Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children, the Muscular Dystrophy Coordinating Committee, the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, the Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children, The Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, the Health and Human Services Working Group on health Weight in Pregnancy, and the Russian G-8 Infant Mortality Initiative. She was a member of the HHS Delegation to Brazil to coordinate efforts to combat zika, led by Ambassador Jimmy Kolker. She was the Chair of the Department of Health and Human Services Federal Task Force on Research Specific to Pregnant Women and Lactating Women.

Dr. Spong is board-certified in maternal-fetal medicine and obstetrics and gynecology. She is an Editor of William’s Obstetrics, Management of High Risk Pregnancy, Protocols of High Risk Pregnancy, and Stillbirth: Prediction, Prevention and Management. She is Editor-in-Chief of Contemporary ObGyn, the most widely disseminated and read publication by practitioners. She has published more than 300 peer-reviewed papers, has an h-index of 71, with over 24,490 citations, and been featured on national television and radio, including The CBS Early Show, the Diane Rehm Show, NPR’s All Things Considered, CNN, and Voice of America, discussing women’s health and pregnancy topics.