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Karen Hendricks-Munoz, MD, MPH

Interim Physician-in-Chief of CHoR, Interim Chair of the Department of Pediatrics, Professor and chief, Inaugural William Tate Graham Professor of Neonatal Medicine

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Neonatal continuing care program, Neonatal medicine

Board Certifications

Pediatrics, Neonatology


Children's Pavilion
1000 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219
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VCU Medical Center Critical Care Hospital
1213 E. Clay Street
Richmond, VA 23219
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Areas of interest

Neonatal intensive care
Pulmonary disease
Neuro-developmental outcomes
Developmental care
Family-centered care
Health care education
Diversity and inclusion


Dr. Karen Hendricks-Munoz, Inaugural William Tate Graham Professor of Pediatrics with tenure, is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine and Section of Neurodevelopment, Eastern Society of Pediatric Research and inductee to the American Pediatric Society (APS), the most prestigious academic honor from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. Hendricks-Munoz is the Chair of the Division of Neonatal Medicine and the Director of the Neonatal Perinatal Fellowship Training Program.  She is a standing member of the NIH Study Section KNOD (Kidney, Nutrition, Obesity and Diabetes) and am member of the AAP Council on Quality Improvement and Patient Safety (COQIPS) and APS Committee on Diversity and Inclusion. She is co-founder of the CHOR Neonatal Continuing Care Program and founder and Director of the CHOR JACKS Summer Scholars Undergraduate and Medical School Research and Mentorship Program. Dr. Hendricks-Munoz is Deputy Director of the VCU Center on Health Disparities, past co-chair and current member of the VCU School of Medicine Faculty Promotion and Tenure committee and a faculty mentor member of the iExcel Mentorship Program for Undergraduates at VCU.

Clinical scholarship and research interests include psychosocial dynamics that impact the health of infants including parenting, developmental and family centered care, developing tools to improve high risk infant health outcome and environmental factors (micro- nutrition; macro-NICU, management) that influence metabolome, inflammatory cytokines and lipidomic microbial cross-talk to affect normal lung and neurological development and function. This body of work has been supported by national funding including March of Dimes, NIH and national foundations.

Dr. Hendricks-Munoz serves clinically as attending faculty at the Children's Hospital of Richmond (CHoR) level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Neonatal Continuing Care Program Regional Neonatal Follow-up Program as well as overall medical director at the Chippenham Hospital and Johnston-Willis (CJW) Hospital Newborn and Neonatal Intensive Care and Newborn Services.


My research group has been fortunate to combine basic and translational approaches to inflammation and angiogenesis (including BPD and ROP) to address pulmonary, eye and neurological diseases. We have focused on developing multi-disciplinary teams to target biomarkers of health, address nutritional and microbial repertoires that optimize health and recovery. We use participation in clinical trials and investigator-initiated clinical and translational studies in collaboration with the Schools of Engineering, Computer Science and Center on Biological Complexities to promote discoveries from bench to bedside.

Pathogenesis and microbial influence for gut, lung and neurologic health. My research focuses on determining the microbial interactions with pathogenetic mechanisms of pulmonary, gut and neurologic inflammation, and translating these data to develop biomarkers of health and disease and nutritional microbial health patterns to decrease and influence necrotizing enterocolitis, chronic lung disease and neuro development in high risk infants. I have previously investigated the role stress and skin to skin in modulating oral microbial development in the preterm and influence on overall health outcome. I am now investigating the modulating role of mothers and donor milk as well as nutrient additives in the evolution of microbial signatures that associate with optimal growth and function. The ultimate goal is to develop standardized and individualized nutritional therapies to decrease or prevent inflammatory lung diseases and stunted growth with associated impact on neurodevelopmental delay in children. I use a variety of pre-clinical rodent models as well as human samples for these investigations and translational studies. I collaborate and a member of the oversight committee of the MOMSPI microbial registry that contains a Core for the collection of maternal and infant tissues and other samples of patients to understand the underpinnings of the human microbiome in health and disease. This facility is shared by many other investigators at Virginia Commonwealth University as well as collaborators at other academic centers in the US. I am part of an active group at the University involved in clinical trials in neonatal disease.

Inflammation and environmental microbial influence on lung and neurological disease
The second major focus in my laboratory is the study of the microbial responses to cellular and molecular effects on neurodevelopment induced by environmental exposures, drugs of addition, marijuana, cigarette smoke and diesel exhaust particles. Specifically, we are investigating the role these agents on altered microbiome and inflammatory cytokines and lipid mediators (resolvins) in modulating long term neuropathology. This research aims to understand the pathogenesis of inflammation, its link to environmental exposures at crucial fetal development to develop new therapeutic strategies to improve lung and neurodevelopment in affected infants. We have a mouse pre-clinical diesel inhalation system and human sample specimen to facilitate novel studies on biomarkers and the role of the microbiome repertoire development on lipid molecules in human lung and neuro inflammation. Currently we use novel collaborative technologies including lipidomic and metabolomics to identify dysregulated pathways.

Research/Teaching Expertise

  • 2018-present: Standing Member NIH Study Section Reviewer, KNOD, Kidney, Nutrition, Obesity and Diabetes Study Section Certified Instruction of basic and advanced cardiac life support: 1998-2000
  • 2018-present: CODIE-APS- member Committee on Diversity, Inclusion and Equity, Am Pediatric Society
  • 2015-2016: NIH Study Section, Infectious Diseases, Reproductive Health and Asthma/ Pulmonary Conditions (IRAP), ad hoc 2014
  • 2014-present: Neonatal Fellowship Program Director Neonatal Training Program Virginia Commonwealth University
  • 2009-2012: Reviewer, Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA)-Maternal and Child Health Research Program Review Committee.
    • 2006-present: AAP Measurement subcommittee of the AAP Steering Committee on Quality Improvement and Management (SCOQIM) - renamed Council on Quality Improvement and Patient Safety (COQIPS) in 2013
  • 2005-2012: Chair, Committee on Education, Manhattan Regional Perinatal Forum
  • 1999-present: Founder and Director of the JCE (now JACKS) Neonatology Summer Scholars Program at NYU for Undergraduate and Medical students now at CHOR since 2012
  • 1990-2012: Seminars in Neonatal Medicine to residents community physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners at the New York University
  • 1990-2012: Neonatal Fellowship Program Director and Founder of Neonatal Training Program New York University
  • 1990-2012: Mentor: New York University Fellowship Program and MD/PhD Mentor Committee: Mentoring Fellows and MD/PhD students, NYU
  • 1984-1988: Mentor: University of Rochester Fellowship Program and MD/PhD Mentor Committee: Mentoring MD/PhD students, University of Rochester


Medical School Yale Medical School
Residency Yale New Haven Hospital
Fellowship University of Rochester, Strong Memorial Hospital

Research interests

Health impact of microbiome,Vascular development and function,Impact of environment on infant,Short and long-term health,Kangaroo mother care: Effects on infant and mother


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  • Specialty: Neonatal Medicine Pediatric Neonatal Continuing Care Progra

Board Certifications

Clinical Interests

  • Neonatal intensive care
  • Pulmonary disease
  • Neuro-developmental outcomes
  • Developmental care
  • Family-centered care
  • Health care education
  • Diversity and inclusion

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