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Nationally Renowned OB-GYN Physician-Scientist and Fetal Medicine Expert, Irina Burd, MD, PhD, Named New Chair of the UM School of Medicine Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences

July 19, 2022

Dr. Burd is Founding Director of the Integrated Research Center for Fetal Medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine; Has Published Extensively on Fetal Brain Development and High-Risk Obstetrics

Irina Burd, MD, PhDUniversity of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, announced today that Irina Burd, MD, PhD, a nationally-and internationally-recognized physician-scientist and academic leader who is currently Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics, and the Founding Director of the Integrated Research Center for Fetal Medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine (JHM), will become the next Chair of the UMSOM’s Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences, following a national search. She will begin in her new role, October 17, 2022.

E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBADr. Burd, who also holds a joint appointment at JHM as Professor of Neurology, is an award-winning physician-scientist with expertise in fetal brain development; fetal cardiology; high-risk obstetrics; general gynecology and obstetrics; and women’s reproductive health. 

“We enthusiastically welcome Dr. Burd to the University of Maryland School of Medicine,” said Dean Reece, who is the Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, UM, Baltimore and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor. Dr. Burd is a dynamic and widely respected leader with a tremendous record of success in her academic pursuits as well as her leadership in maternal-fetal medicine. Indeed, she is what we often refer to as a ‘triple threat’—a physician-scientist who has exhibited excellence in research, clinical care, and education. In particular, her accomplishments in leading the Integrated Research Center for Fetal Medicine at JHM, and her major clinical and translational research in fetal medicine and fetal neurology, make her an ideal fit for UMSOM’s strengths and leadership in these areas. I am confident that she will advance our Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences to a new level of excellence.”

Mark T. Gladwin, MDMark T. Gladwin, MD, who will begin as Dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine on August 1, added, "Dr. Burd represents the very best in academic medicine leadership. She has a longstanding and successful commitment to clinical excellence in obstetrics and service to the community. Her success in leading the physician-scientist development programs and OB-GYN fellowship training programs at JHM have impacted educational excellence in the field. Serving as Director of the Integrative Research Center for Fetal Medicine, and Director of Research in the Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine at JHM, she has demonstrated her ability to lead a significant research enterprise. As an investigator, her own research programs have explored the effect of maternal intra-uterine placental inflammation in pregnancy outcomes, supported by continuous NIH RO1 funding. I look forward to Dr. Burd joining the UMSOM leadership team!"

Dr. Burd’s Academic Leadership in Maternal-Fetal Medicine

Dr. Burd has made significant contributions to scholarship in fetal medicine and fetal neurology with more than 120 publications. In particular, her cross-disciplinary work is exemplified through her Directorship of the Integrated Research Center for Fetal Medicine at JHU’s School of Medicine. She brought together a team of collaborating faculty in Obstetrics, General Pediatrics, Pediatric Neurology, Environmental Sciences, Pediatric Critical Care, and Pediatric Infectious Diseases, and has collaborated in research with JHU’s School of Public Health. In addition to basic science work supported by two NIH R01 grants, she expanded her research program to translational and clinical work (supported by NIH R21 and U01 grants), and served as co-investigator on multiple NIH R01s.

Her current total research funds are $3.2 million. Over the course of her career she has secured over $20 million in NIH, foundation, and philanthropic funding for her work. Her research specifically focuses on how exposure to infections and other sources of inflammation during pregnancy can impact fetal programming, events occurring during critical points of pregnancy that may cause permanent effects on the fetus and the infant long after birth. She is seeking to determine whether inflammation affects neurons in the fetal brain and whether it causes epigenetic changes that increase the risk of mental illness and behavioral disorders like autism. She has worked clinically at Johns Hopkins Hospital and Howard County Hospital, and was able to expand the Center’s research mission to Howard County Hospital.

Bert W. O’Malley, MDBert W. O'Malley, MD, President and CEO, University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), said: “Obstetrics and gynecology is vital to UMMC’s mission and our unwavering commitment to advancing women’s health. I am thrilled that Dr. Burd will be at the helm of this important department, bringing her vision and expertise integrating clinical care, research, and education to shape the future of our wide spectrum of care for women across the region."

Dr. Burd’s National Leadership

Irina Burd, MD, PhDDr. Burd is active in the Society of Maternal Fetal Medicine (SMFM) and Society of Reproductive Investigations (SRI). Within SMFM, she was the organizing director of the Prematurity Scientific Forum, organized and co-moderated the State of Science Symposium, and is part of the planning committee for the SMFM 2022 First-Year Fellows Retreat. Within SRI, she currently chairs CME Membership and Nominations committees. She was the Program Director for the international annual meeting (Boston, MA in July of 2021) as well as currently serves as a member of SRI Council. She now serves as the Past President of the Perinatal Research Society (PRS) and the President of the American Society of Reproductive Immunology (ASRI). Since 2016, for five years, she served as the Chair of the NIH Obstetrics and Maternal Fetal Biology Study Section (CHHD-B).

Dr. Burd is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Ikaria Research Award from the Perinatal Research Society, a research award from the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology/American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Foundation; the Thomas R. Boggs Jr. Research Award from the Philadelphia Perinatal Society; the Passano Foundation Clinician Scientist Award, SRI President’s Achievement Awar; and ASRI Distinguished Service Award.

Christine Lau, MD, MBA“I would like to personally congratulate Dr. Burd on this appointment,” said Christine L. Lau, MD, MBA, the Dr. Robert W. Buxton Chair of Surgery, who headed the OB-GYN chair national search committee. “We are delighted with this tremendous outcome, as we continue our momentum in attracting a strong and diverse pool of candidates for major leadership positions at the UMSOM.”

Dr. Burd earned her undergraduate degree from Rutgers University. She completed the combined M.D./Ph.D. Degree program at Rutgers University-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. She completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and performed a fellowship in maternal-fetal medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Burd joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 2011 and has risen through the ranks to full Professor. She was born in Ukraine, and speaks English, Russian, and Ukranian.

"I am excited to join the University of Maryland family, and to continue to lead the efforts to further its national and international reputation in Obstetrics and Gynecology,” said Dr. Burd. “I am also excited for the opportunity to work at an institution with ties across the state of Maryland. I believe there are opportunities across the state, to improve quality and safety initiatives, and to attract the patient population for specialized care through telemedicine as well as through service lines. Lastly, and most importantly, the prospect of developing the next generation of academic clinicians, clinician-scientists, and scientists pursuing the dream of making reproductive health our priority, as well as leading the incredible group of existing faculty members, would be both personally and professionally rewarding.”

Department of OB-GYN Advances Under Dr. Christopher Harman’s Leadership

Dr. Burd will succeed Christopher Harman, MD, who served as Chair of the Department for 12 years, as Interim Chair from 2010 to 2012 and as Permanent Chair from 2012 to present. He will remain on the faculty as a senior faculty member with expertise in maternal-fetal medicine in the UMSOM Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences.

Under Dr. Harman’s leadership, the Department advanced significantly in research, clinical care, and education, and is internationally known for its work in fetal medicine and biology, and fetal therapy. The Department is now ranked #9 among all 192 medical schools in the U.S.

In clinical care, the Department now includes several divisions, including:

  • Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM): Provides a full spectrum of care of the fetal patient and the unborn baby’s family, including evaluation and treatment of fetal abnormalities, within a world-class clinical and research service.
  • General OB/GYN: Specializes in general women’s medical care, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders of the female reproductive system, and care for pregnant women.
  • Midwifery: Provides highly trained obstetrical care and support by nurse midwifery to women throughout pregnancy, labor, and childbirth, and during the period after a baby’s birth. Nurse midwifery also provide routine and preventive gynecological care for women from adolescence through menopause.
  • Gynecologic Oncology: Provides a multidisciplinary approach to care for cancers of the reproductive tract such as uterine/endometrial, vaginal, and vulvar cancer. Patients receive comprehensive care for premalignant conditions, complex gynecologic problems, and gynecologic cancers.
  • Urologic Gynecology (Continence and Pelvic Health): Provides complete diagnostic evaluation for women who suffer from urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapses, and pelvic floor disorders.

Christopher Harman, MDIn addition, the Fetal Heart Center, part of the Center for Advanced Fetal Care at the University of Maryland Medical Center, is a major referral center for the region, and the leading edge of the nationally known Congenital Heart Program at UMMC. At the Center for Advanced Fetal Care, thousands of life-saving procedures (medical and surgical) have been performed while the fetus is still in utero, drawing patients from more than a dozen states.

More recently, the Complex OB Surgery Program now provides intensive care for women with dangerously abnormal placentas, referred from many high-risk services across the mid-Atlantic. With a full complement of GYN Oncology and Urogynecology subspecialists, and exceptionally multifaceted OB-GYN generalists and faculty midwives, the Department cares for women of West Baltimore, the State of Maryland, the region, and the nation.

In clinical research, the Department's reputation for innovation in complex ultrasound evaluation, fetal anomalies, intrauterine growth restriction, iso-immunization disease and many other fetal disorders, is widely known. This work has generated over a hundred scientific reports, and pioneered techniques used in fetal assessment around the world. Dr. Loren Thompson’s research is investigating how the fetus adapts to low oxygen levels (hypoxic stress) -- due to exposure to cigarette smoke or other maternal factors. The Department’s Division of Applied Perinatal Research includes the Center for Birth Defects Research (Directed by Dr. Peixin Yang, co-Directed by Dr. Reece) and the Placental physiology lab of Dr. Eugene D. Albrecht, as well the groundbreaking work of this Division has propelled the Department into the Top Ten in the nation in Blue Ridge OB-GYN ranking, based on NIH funding.

Medical Student education in OB-GYN is comprehensive, and despite the hesitations of the pandemic, continues to inspire record numbers of graduates to apply for residency in the specialty. The Maryland OB-GYN Residency Training Program is sought after by top graduates from across the country. With the outstanding combination of patient acuity, unique clinical opportunities, and research in every aspect of Women’s Health, this upper-echelon program is always in demand. The Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellowship program at UMSOM builds on the strengths of fetal therapy, ultrasound innovation, and the unique collaboration between basic science and clinical science.

Recent initiatives in the Department include the Program in Diversity; Equity and Women’s Empowerment; Family Planning; advanced faculty genetics counsellors; and Substance Use in Pregnancy.

“It is a pleasure to welcome Dr. Burd to our family,” said Dr. Harman. “She will be a valuable addition to an outstanding group, and her leadership will open new vistas in many directions. Her personal strengths in fetal physiology and perinatal research will find a nurturing home at the UMSOM.  In addition, the positive, energetic, motivated, and inquiring nature of our team will ensure this transition is smooth and successful.”

Dean Reece commented: “On behalf of the entire UMSOM community, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to Dr. Harman for his years of service and the extraodinary impact he has had on the Department. His wisdom in all areas of patient care and scholarship, in creating the next generation of physician-scientists has been invaluable.  We are most pleased that he will continue as a Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences. At the same time, we warmly welcome Dr. Burd to the UMSOM, and feel confident, based on her background and life's work, that she will advance the department to the next level of excellence."

About the University of Maryland School of Medicine

Now in its third century, the University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 as the first public medical school in the United States. It continues today as one of the fastest growing, top-tier biomedical research enterprises in the world -- with 46 academic departments, centers, institutes, and programs, and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians, scientists, and allied health professionals, including members of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and a distinguished two-time winner of the Albert E. Lasker Award in Medical Research.  With an operating budget of more than $1.3 billion, the School of Medicine works closely in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide research-intensive, academic and clinically based care for nearly 2 million patients each year. The School of Medicine has nearly $600 million in extramural funding, with most of its academic departments highly ranked among all medical schools in the nation in research funding.  As one of the seven professional schools that make up the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine has a total population of nearly 9,000 faculty and staff, including 2,500 students, trainees, residents, and fellows. The combined School of Medicine and Medical System (“University of Maryland Medicine”) has an annual budget of over $6 billion and an economic impact of nearly $20 billion on the state and local community. The School of Medicine, which ranks as the 8th highest among public medical schools in research productivity (according to the Association of American Medical Colleges profile) is an innovator in translational medicine, with 606 active patents and 52 start-up companies.  In the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking of the Best Medical Schools, published in 2021, the UM School of Medicine is ranked #9 among the 92 public medical schools in the U.S., and in the top 15 percent (#27) of all 192 public and private U.S. medical schools.  The School of Medicine works locally, nationally, and globally, with research and treatment facilities in 36 countries around the world. Visit


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