Michael A. Belfort, M.D., Ph.D., an internationally recognized expert in maternal-fetal medicine and fetal intervention, has been named Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine and Obstetrician and Gynecologist-in-Chief at Texas Children's Hospital. Belfort's appointment is effective Jan. 1, 2011.

Belfort will be instrumental in shaping a new era at Texas Children's as it enters the final year of construction on its $575 million maternity facility and expands into obstetrical and gynecological care to establish one of the nation's premier centers for women's, fetal and newborn health. With nearly three decades of practice focused on obstetrics, gynecology and maternal-fetal medicine, Belfort most recently served as director of Perinatal Research, Fetal Therapy and Obstetric Telemedicine at HCA Healthcare in Nashville, TN and as a professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Utah School of Medicine. An accomplished researcher and educator, Belfort will continue his focus on maternal and fetal medicine research at BCM, as well as expand the College's current research initiatives. He will direct the College's well-established medical education program and grow the areas of specialty training.

"Dr. Belfort's outstanding medical achievements and his passion for the care of mothers and their unborn children make him an exemplary choice to help Texas Children's achieve its vision of offering a full continuum of care to women and babies," said Mark A. Wallace, president and CEO of Texas Children's.

At BCM, Belfort will lead a distinguished academic department encompassing the full range of obstetric and gynecologic practice, an active research enterprise and growing medical education program with 55 faculty, 48 residents, three medical board approved fellowships and more than $2 million in National Institutes of Health funding. He will oversee and expand the College's programs at Ben Taub General Hospital and the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center, in addition to the Texas Children's program. Belfort succeeds Dr. Dale Brown, Jr., who served as interim chair at BCM and as Texas Children's first Obstetrician-in-Chief since 2006.

This appointment marks Belfort's return to the College and to Houston. From 1994 through 1997 he served as director of labor and delivery and as director of obstetric intensive care at Ben Taub General Hospital, as well as an associate professor in the divisions of maternal-fetal medicine, hypertension and anesthesiology at BCM. His teaching experience also includes serving as an adjunct clinical professor at Yale University School of Medicine where he worked with Yale faculty in the development of their Fetal Intervention Program.

"Dr. Belfort will play an important role in expanding our research efforts and our medical training program in obstetrics and gynecology," said Dr. Paul Klotman, president and CEO of BCM. "He is well-known as an exceptional educator and will be an outstanding leader for our trainees."

A native of South Africa, Belfort received his medical degree (MBBCH) at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, a Doctorate in Medicine (MD) at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and his Ph.D. at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. He completed two residencies in obstetrics and gynecology (one in Cape Town and one at BCM), trained in anesthesiology in South Africa, and did his fellowship in maternal fetal medicine at BCM.

Belfort is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and maternal-fetal medicine by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He also holds obstetrics and gynecology specialist qualifications in South Africa, the United Kingdom and Canada. He has received numerous professional awards for his contributions to research, teaching and medical practice. Belfort has been an active member of professional societies all over the world and has written more than 175 scientific articles and textbook chapters, as well as presented more than 350 abstracts and poster presentations. He is an author/editor of several textbooks, including "Hypertension in Pregnancy," "Obstetric Clinical Algorithms, Preeclampsia" and "Critical Care Obstetrics."

"I look forward to being part of this exciting new era at Texas Children's and to working with so many distinguished colleagues at Baylor College of Medicine and throughout the Houston community. It is a privilege to be part of this visionary program for women, fetal and newborn healthcare," said Belfort. "I am honored to follow Dr. Dale Brown, who was integral in placing us on this bold path to the future."

Upon opening in 2011, the Texas Children's new facility will offer women a complete range of obstetric and gynecologic services, focusing on family-centered maternity care, beginning before conception and continuing after delivery, and on high-risk births. Within a beautiful and soothing setting, the facility will have a 90-bed capacity and be able to accommodate more than 5,000 births per year. The building will include the advanced care of Level II and Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) with private rooms, Texas Children's Fetal Center, a state-of-the-art family fertility program offering assisted reproduction services, as well as BCM and private practice medical offices. It will connect to the hospital's current pediatric care facilities, West Tower and Clinical Care Center, via an iconic circular sky bridge. For more information: http://www.vision.texaschildrens.org/maternity_center.html.