Piper Fellow devotes work to maternal-child health

November 28, 2011 5:45 AM

Maureen King

Growing up in Peru in the 1980s, Dr. Paola Maurtua-Neumann was an eyewitness to one of the world’s worst maternal and child healthcare systems. Moved by the experience, she is dedicating her career to stopping the spread of infectious diseases from Peruvian mothers to their infants.


Dr. Paola Maurtua-Neumann

Dr. Paola Maurtua-Neumann, this year’s Piper Fellow, dedicates her career to stopping the spread of infectious diseases from mothers to babies in Peru. (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)

“International research is very important since even small interventions can have an impact on a population with limited resources,” says Maurtua-Neumann, the 2011–12 Dauphinot D. Piper International Medicine and Health Fellow at the Tulane University School of Medicine.

Created in 2006, the yearlong fellowship program gives doctors the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of its namesake. After Dauphinot “Derek” Piper graduated from Tulane medical school in 1999, he traveled to Central America and southeast Asia to tackle global health issues. He died in 2006, not long after a brain tumor diagnosis, and friends and family established the Piper Fellowship to support doctors working in international health.

Last summer, Maurtua-Neumann took her expertise to Lima, Peru, where she is setting up a project to assess the mother-to-child transmission of neonatal pathogens. She also is part of a team developing a test to diagnose neonatal sepsis, a blood infection that occurs in infants.

Martua-Neumann currently is working at Tulane and Children’s Hospital in New Orleans, where she is a Tulane University/LSU Pediatric Infectious Disease Fellow. She plans to return to Lima to continue her relief work.

In 2007, Anjali Niyogi, the first Piper Fellow, also chose Peru for her research on cervical cancer. The broad scope of the Piper Fellowship develops a wide range of skills, she said.

“In this regard, the fellowship far surpasses others with similar objectives,” says Niyogi, an assistant professor of general internal medicine and pediatrics at Tulane.

Information on donating to the Piper Fellowship, is available here, or by calling 888-265-7576.

Maureen King is a writer in the Office of Development.

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