New ob-gyn chair hits the ground running

February 1, 2011

Dr. Michael Belfort
Dr. Michael Belfort

Dr. Michael Belfort has only been at Baylor College of Medicine a few weeks, but he already has big plans to strengthen the department of obstetrics and gynecology.

"I am looking at significant expansion of the department, both on the clinical and research sides," said Belfort, chair and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at BCM. "Our existing strong collaborations with other departments and organizations will be key to our future successes."

Belfort will also serve as obstetrician and gynecologist-in-chief at Texas Children's Hospital, and will work closely with the department of pediatrics and the division of neonatology within that department.

"We are building a center that will offer the best in maternal and fetal care," said Belfort of the under-construction Texas Children's Pavilion for Women, a state-of- the-art hospital for women and newborns scheduled to open in two phases in late 2011 and 2012. "We are going to have a unique critical care component, enabling us to better care for the sickest of sick mothers and a private room NICU to care for our babies. Our program will be unique in that not only will we offer the most advanced obstetric care for the mothers, we have designed the Fetal Center to allow us immediate access to all of the pediatric consultants our fetal patients may need as soon as they are born. We are incredibly fortunate to have the best pediatric sub-specialists – anesthesiologists, surgeons, cardiologists, radiologists, neurosurgeons, urologists and neonatologists in the country with us."

Program expansion

On Jan. 1, Dr. Belfort assumed the duties in his new roles and he has hit the ground running with a vision to expand existing clinical and research programs and to develop others in critical areas such as postpartum hemorrhage and preeclampsia.

"We are going to assemble a multi-disciplinary team to look after women with these conditions," said Belfort. "In addition to having the skills and necessary facilities, you need back-up services to help diagnosis and manage pre- and postoperative care." Belfort said that these resources will be centered at the new Texas Children's Pavilion for Women. "We have designed this hospital to specifically deal with critically ill pregnant women with purpose designed rooms and operating room functionality.

Research

He said there will also be an important emphasis on research. "We are active in setting up a research network nationally and internationally to improve maternal fetal health," said Belfort. "In line with President Klotman's vision of international collaboration, our department is looking to establish and strengthen our ties with a number of sites in India, Africa and China."

Personally, Belfort will bring two labs over, one of which will be housed at the Texas Children's Feigin Center, and the other at the Pavilion for Women.

"One will be a basic science vascular physiology lab," said Belfort. "The other will focus on clinical measures of brain-blood perfusion in pregnancy."

Community resource

Belfort also expressed a desire to strengthen the department as a community and global resource. "I want to carry the BCM name out into the community and the rest of the world and help any other center that might need us."

Belfort said with the already strong support of Dr. Paul Klotman, president and CEO of BCM, Mark A. Wallace, president and CEO of Texas Children's Hospital, Dr. Mark Kline, physician-in-chief at Texas Children's, and Dr. Charles Fraser, surgeon-in-chief at Texas Children's, this goal is very possible.

"I am very excited about what the future holds for the department," said Belfort.

Belfort, a native of South Africa, is an internationally renowned expert in maternal fetal medicine.

He comes to BCM from the University of Utah School of Medicine, where he served as a professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and from HCA Health Care in Nashville, Tenn., where he served as director of perinatal research, fetal therapy and obstetric telemedicine.

This new position marks Belfort's return to BCM. From 1994 to 1997, he served as director of labor and delivery and as director of obstetric intensive care at Ben Taub General Hospital. He held appointments in obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine and anesthesiology.