The Baylor College of Medicine Section of Neonatology was established in 1957 by Dr. Murdina Desmond. As first head of the newborn section, Dr. Desmond laid the groundwork and fostered its growth to the world-class neonatal care program it is today.
After World War II, when Dr. Murdina Desmond joined Baylor, the College was one of only two buildings in the Texas Medical Center. The Department of Pediatrics consisted of four faculty members and two residents. In 1950, Baylor affiliated with what was the former county hospital, Jefferson Davis Hospital, and a newborn service was established.
Under Dr. Desmond's leadership, the service grew rapidly during the baby-boom years of the 1950s and 1960s. At the Jefferson Davis Hospital, her research activities described unique aspects of congenital and epidemic bacterial infections of the neonate, the effects of maternal disease on the newborn, and her pioneering work involving neurologic assessment. The latter work resulted in grant awards from the Hartford Foundation, beginning in 1960, to establish a transitional care nursery. In this new environment, she performed her classic studies of newborn behavior and morbidity in the hours immediately after birth. In 1967, the Children's Bureau established a program for high-risk maternal-infant care, which included an intensive care unit and follow-up clinics.
Dr. Desmond transferred her activities to Texas Children's Hospital in 1972 to head the new Developmental Pediatrics Center. From 1972 to 1986, the leadership of the Newborn Section was under the able direction of Dr. Arnold "Jack" Rudolph (1918–1995), a beloved medical educator and an internationally recognized expert in neonatology. In 1961, Dr. Rudolph established the Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine Fellowship Program—one of the first such programs in the United States.
The Section of Neonatology has a long history of successful leadership. See a listing of our present and past section heads:
- K. Suresh Gautham, M.D.
Head, Section of Neonatology, 2015-Present
- Stephen Welty, M.D.
Head, Section of Neonatology, 2010–2015
- Ann R. Stark, M.D.
Head, Section of Neonatology, 2005-2010
- Leonard E. Weisman, M.D.
Head, Section of Neonatology, 1995-2005
- Thomas N. Hansen, M.D.
Head, Section of Neonatology, 1987-1995
- Arnold J. Rudolph, MBBCh
Head, Section of Neonatology, 1972-1986
- Murdina M. Desmond, M.D.
Head, Section of Neonatology, 1957-1972