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World-Renowned Fetal Cardiologist to join the Texas Fetal Center at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital

(August15, 2013)

Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital is pleased to announce that Helena Gardiner, M.D., Ph.D., will join the Texas Fetal Center as co-director of the Fetal Cardiology Program. Specializing in the care of unborn babies with congenital heart disease and in the smooth transition from care during pregnancy to perinatal care and cardiac surgery, Gardiner will serve as a professor in the department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences and the division of Pediatric Cardiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School. Gardiner will work alongside Gurur Biliciler-Denktas, M.D., assistant professor of pediatric cardiology, as co-director of the Program.

"We are honored and thrilled to welcome Dr. Gardiner to the world-class team of affiliated physicians at the Texas Fetal Center," said Susie Distefano, CEO of Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital. "She brings with her more than three decades of international experience in the field of fetal medicine and we are excited to be able to offer her unique, highly specialized level of expertise to our pediatric patients."

Gardiner has collaborated in translational research in noninvasive and interventional fetal cardiovascular work and has been recognized for her work on fetal vascular programming in monochromatic twins, fetal growth restriction and the use of percutaneous fetal valvuloplasty. Her recent translational interests include noninvasive outcomes, interventional fetal cardiovascular and neuro-developmental outcomes and novel aspects of imaging the fetal heart early in gestation, as well as the functional assessment and childhood outcomes following fetal surgery to open the aortic valve.

Following her graduation from medical school in 1982, Gardiner went on to train in pediatrics and neonatal medicine in the United Kingdom and the Bahamas. She was awarded a Children's Research Fellowship in 1988 and an M.D. in 1992 from Bristol University for her thesis on the novel use of ultrasound to examine the neonatal hip. After training and obtaining accreditation in pediatric cardiology in the U.K., she was awarded a Medical Research Council Visiting Science Fellowship at Lund University in Sweden, where she studied vascular programming of the fetal circulation and, in 2002, also received a Ph.D. in Medicine for her investigations on fetal vascular programming. Gardiner held honorary attending positions at the Royal Brompton Hospital and the Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital, both in London. After being appointed senior lecturer at Imperial College London in 1997, she was promoted to director of their perinatal cardiology program in 2008, a position she held until relocating to Houston this summer.

In 1999, Gardiner founded the U.K. charity, Tiny Tickers, with the aim of improving screening of congenital heart defects before birth and in the first year of life. Since its inception, the program has educated physicians and sonographers with the goal of improving the professional standards applied to training, screening, diagnosis, and care for babies with congenital heart defects. The program has also raised community awareness regarding the impact of undetected congenital heart defects and the associated risks of delayed diagnosis. With the arrival of Gardiner, the Texas Fetal Center now plans to establish an active Tiny Tickers training program in the Greater Houston area.