Neonatal Research Institute Team

Led by research director Dr. Anup Katheria, a clinical scientist funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Sharp Neonatal Research Institute's (NRI) multidisciplinary team includes physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, research staff and data analysts. This team of experts works closely with Sharp HealthCare Foundation toward a shared goal of improving the outcomes of at-risk newborns.

Combined with Sharp Mary Birch's specialized units for high-risk pregnancies and neonatal intensive care, the NRI helps give the most fragile of newborns the best possible start in life.

Meet the Team

Dr. Anup Katheria


Dr. Katheria received his undergraduate degree from the University of California Los Angeles. He went on to receive his medical degree from Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. He completed his residency in pediatrics at Children's Hospital of Orange County and in neonatology at University of California San Diego. He has recently been appointed a member of the Society for Pediatric Research and assistant clinical professor at Loma Linda University. Dr. Katheria developed the Neonatal Research Institute with the goal of performing clinical trials designed to determine which therapies improve the care of our newborns. Read Dr. Katheria's publications.

  Dr. Anup Katheria

Dr. Neil Finer

Senior Research Consultant

Dr. Finer received his medical degree from University of Toronto, completed a rotating internship at Wellesley Hospital in Toronto and his residency at I.W.K. Children's Hospital in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He went on to complete a fellowship at Children's Hospital Medical Centre at the Harvard School of Medicine in Boston. Dr. Finer has led and designed a number of single- and multi-site clinical trials and is considered to be one of the world's experts in the field of neonatal resuscitation. He was the lead investigator for the SUPPORT trial, one of the largest multicentered trials in extremely premature babies performed to date. He has recently retired from UCSD as the division chief of neonatology, and now is a professor emeritus. As one of the more accomplished leaders in the field of neonatology, Dr. Finer has been instrumental as the NRI's senior research consultant. Read Dr. Finer's publications.

  Dr. Neil Finer

Dr. Paul Wozniak

Medical Director, Sharp HealthCare

Dr. Wozniak received his undergraduate degree from John Carroll University. He went on to receive his medical degree from Strich School of Medicine, Loyola University of Chicago. He completed his residency in pediatrics at the University of Chicago Hospital & Clinics and his fellowship in neonatology at the University of California at San Diego. Dr. Wozniak is an attending neonatologist and current board member of Sharp Memorial Hospital. Dr. Wozniak has more than 30 years of neonatal expertise and his dedication to improving neonatal care and long-term outcomes was the impetus for starting the NRI. Read Dr. Wozniak's publications.

  Dr. Paul Wozniak

Dr. Larry Cousins

Perinatal Liaison

Dr. Cousins is an American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology-certified physician in maternal-fetal medicine, specializing in high-risk obstetrics and fetal ultrasound. He has more than 30 years of experience in perinatal care, much of which focuses on gestational diabetes during pregnancy. He is a member of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Diabetes Association, California Medical Association and the California Perinatal Association, among others. Dr. Cousins received his medical degree from Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., and completed his fellowship in maternal-fetal medicine at the Harbor General/UCLA Medical Center. He previously served as the director of maternal-fetal medicine at Sharp Mary Birch for 19 years and is currently serving on the Obstetrics/Gynecology Supervisory Committee. He is currently a co-investigator for the PREMOD cord milking study in preterm infants and is the perinatal liaison for the NRI. Read Dr. Cousins's publications.

  Dr. Larry Cousins

Dr. Mary Harbert

Co-director, Neurological Intensive Care for Newborns Program

Dr. Harbert received her undergraduate and medical degrees from University of Washington in Seattle. She did her pediatrics residency at Schneider Children's Hospital (now Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York) in New Hyde Park, N.Y., and her child neurology fellowship at University of California San Diego, where she continues as a member of the faculty. She has also had additional training in neonatal neurology from University of California San Francisco, and serves as co-director of the Sharp Mary Birch Neurological Intensive Care for Newborns (NICN) program with Dr. Maynard Rasmussen. Dr. Harbert was named a Hartwell Investigator by the Hartwell Foundation in 2013 for her work in detection of candidates for therapeutic hypothermia. She is funded by the Hartwell Foundation and the Gerber Foundation.

  Dr. Mary Harbert

Kathy Arnell, RN

Research Coordinator

Kathy Arnell, RN, neonatal research RN at Sharp Mary Birch, is coordinator and co-investigator of the research program at the Sharp Mary Birch neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). She received her degree in nursing from Utah State University/Weber State University. She has participated in many National Institute of Child Health and Human Development trials, industry-sponsored studies and fostered collaboration with academic institutions in topics such as hypothermia therapy, continuous EEG monitoring, respiratory management and pharmacological practices. She has worked in neonatology for more than 30 years, both as an advanced life support nurse attending high-risk deliveries to resuscitate and stabilize newborns and as neonatal resuscitation program instructor. Kathy has extensive neonatal and perinatal trial experience and has been critical to the success of the research program in the NICU for the past 13 years. Read Kathy Arnell's research activities.

  Kathy Arnell

Wade Rich, RCP

Research Coordinator

Wade Rich, RCP, clinical research coordinator of the neonatology department at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns, received his degree in respiratory therapy at California College for Respiratory Care in San Diego and his bachelor's of science in health science from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He has managed numerous clinical trials and has previously been the lead coordinator for a Neonatal Research Network randomized controlled trial of a respiratory intervention in preterm infants. In 2013, he was recognized as the Neonatal Pediatric Practitioner of the Year by the American Association of Respiratory Care (AARC). He is also the AARC representative to the American Academy of Pediatrics Neonatal Resuscitation Program Instructor Development Task Force. Wade has extensive experience in coordinating large multicenter and single-center studies, and is the lead author on the antenatal consent trial of the SUPPORT study. Read Wade Rich's publications.

  Wade Rich

Deborah Petruzzelli, RN, BSN

Lead Clinical Research Specialist

Deborah Petruzzelli, RN, BSN, lead clinical research specialist at the NRI, oversees the growth and operations of the Institute. She has been a neonatal nurse for more than 30 years and has a broad range of experience within the specialty, including clinical, education, leadership and research roles. She received her nursing degree from Olivet University in Chicago. Her experience at the University of Colorado Neonatal Clinical Research Center includes studies related to early postnatal intravenous nutrition of the extremely low birth weight infant, neonatal applications of pulse oximetry and treatment of patent ductus arteriosus.

  Deborah Petruzzelli

Randy Nopasri

Research Cardiac Sonographer

Randy Nopasri graduated from the Grossmont College Cardiovascular Technologies Program in 2009. He has been performing cardiac ultrasounds on babies and adults for more than five years, including cardiac and vascular ultrasound. Over the past year he has performed more than 100 neonatal ultrasounds for research studies at the NRI.

  Randy Noprasi

Jason Sauberan, PharmD

Research Pharmacist

Jason Sauberan has more than 10 years of experience as a neonatal-perinatal clinical pharmacist in both the private and academic settings. His research interests include drugs in breastmilk, neonatal parenteral nutrition, anti-infective therapy and medication safety. He is assistant author of the National Library of Medicine's LactMed database for drugs and lactation, contributing editor of Nelson's Pediatric Antimicrobial Therapy, contributor to the American Academy of Pediatrics Red Book and to Principles and Practices of Pediatric Infectious Disease and is on the Scientific Advisory Board to the Mother to Baby California organization. He is also an assistant clinical professor of pharmacy at the UCSD Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Read Dr. Sauberan's publications.

  Jason Sauberan

Debra Dennington, RCP

Research Coordinator

Debra Dennington has more than 24 years of experience in neonatal respiratory therapy, including respiratory management of the neonate, hypothermia therapy, continuous EEG monitoring and high-risk deliveries. She also is an instructor for respiratory therapy students, medical residents and neonatology fellows, and is also a neonatal resuscitation program instructor. She earned her respiratory of science degree at Grossmont Community College. She has participated in numerous clinical trials. Read Debra Dennington's publications.

  Debra Dennington

Melissa Brown, RCP

Research Coordinator

Melissa Brown received her degree in respiratory therapy from Grossmont College and her bachelor's of science in respiratory care from the University of Kansas. She has more than 24 years of experience in neonatal respiratory care and in clinical and laboratory research as a primary investigator, subinvestigator, study coordinator and as a bedside research clinician. In 2002, the American Association of Respiratory Care recognized her as the neonatal pediatric practitioner of the year. She is a neonatal resuscitation program instructor and an instructor with respiratory therapy students. Her research interests include nasal cpap, mechanical ventilation and specialty gas therapy. Read Melissa Brown's publications.

  Melissa Brown

For More Neonatal Research Institute Clinical Trials Information
To learn more about the NICU at Sharp Mary Birch, visit Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Sharp Mary Birch . For more information about the NRI or to learn more about our clinical trials, send us an email or call 858-939-4175.