BBCH Scholarship Academy Founder and Advisor

Mary Ottolini, MD, MPH, MEd

Mary Ottolini, MD, MPH, MEd

Mary Ottolini, MD, MPH, MEd is the George W. Hallett MD Chair of Pediatrics at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center, a Tufts University Professor of Pediatrics, and the founder and advisor of the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital Scholarship Academy. In her role as the Chair of Pediatrics she oversees the academic and clinical work of pediatric faculty at the BBCH and the MaineHealth Children’s Health Service Line.

Prior to joining Maine Medical Center, Dr. Ottolini was most recently the Vice Chair of Education at Children’s National Hospital where she supervised over 1000 trainees annually in developing expertise in pediatrics across the spectrum of learners from medical students to sub-specialty fellows and faculty. While in the Washington DC area, she also led a practice-based research network comprised of primary care pediatricians in the area.

Through her scholarship, Dr. Ottolini is a nationally recognized expert in medical education with particular expertise in eLearning. During her 30 year career as a medical educator she has presented numerous workshops and original research in medical education at national meetings. She has published book chapters, review articles, and original educational research in peer-reviewed journals. She has served as the Education Chair for the Academic Pediatric Association (APA) and as the APA President. Dr. Ottolini was awarded the prestigious Pediatric Academic Society’s (PAS) Ray Helfer award three times for the most outstanding educational research study presented at the annual PAS meeting as well as the APA’s Teaching Program Award four times for educational programs she helped develop and implement. Dr. Ottolini was awarded the Parker Palmer Courage to Lead Award by the ACGME in 2016 for outstanding Graduate Medical Education leadership as the Designated Institutional Official at Children’s National Hospital and Lifetime Achievement Award for Medical Student Education Leadership from the Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics in 2017.  In 2019 she was awarded the Pediatric Hospital Medicine LifeTime Achievement Award.  In 2020 she was named an inaugural member of the National Academy of Distinguished Educators in Pediatrics and a MITE Academy Master Educator.

In addition to earning a Medical Degree and Master’s Degree in Public Health, she completed a Master’s Degree in Medical Education from the George Washington University Graduate School of Education.

Scholarship areas of interest: the use of technology to innovate the learning process – including eLearning and simulation with augmented reality

BBCH Scholarship Academy Directors

Alexa Craig, MD, MSc, MS

Alexa Craig, MD, MSc, MS

Alexa Craig, MD, MSc, MS is a Neonatal and Pediatric Neurologist at Maine Medical Center and Maine Medical Partners, a clinical researcher, and the Director of the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital Scholarship Academy. A New England native, she attended the University of Vermont College of Medicine for her medical degree followed by two years of pediatric residency at Maine Medical Center and a residency in Child Neurology at Washington University and Seattle Children’s Hospital. Dr. Craig did an additional year of fellowship in Neonatal Neurology at the University of Washington and St. Louis Children’s Hospital. In 2012, Dr. Craig returned home to Maine Medical Center to start her Neonatal Neurology Program and academic career. Following her return to MMC, she was the recipient of a KL2 career development award through the Tufts University College of Medicine and obtained a Master’s degree in Clinical and Translational Research.

In 2021, Dr. Craig, MD was funded as the lead scientist on Project 4 of the COBRE in Acute Care Research & Rural Disparities supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institutes of Health. This project aims to assess use of telemedicine for the assessment of neonatal encephalopathy in tertiary care centers in Maine and Vermont as well as community hospitals in Maine and New Hampshire.

Dr. Craig’s clinical interest are in the areas of Neonatal Neurocritical Care, specifically neuroprotective treatments such as therapeutic hypothermia and employing telemedicine to eliminate outcome disparities for rural-born newborns. In the outpatient setting, Dr. Craig started the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital Cerebral Palsy Program and is working to improve neurodevelopmental follow up for neonates cared for in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Scholarship Areas of Interest: Neuroprotective treatments including therapeutic hypothermia, the use of telemedicine to eliminate outcome disparities for rural-born newborns

Project Name: The effect of antenatal opioid exposure on newborn head circumference

Laura Faherty, MD, MPH, MSHP

Laura Faherty, MD, MPH, MSHP

Laura Faherty, MD, MPH, MSHP is the Associate Director of the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital Scholarship Academy and an attending physician in the MMP Pediatric Clinic at Maine Medical Center. Outside of her work at Maine Medical Center, Dr. Faherty is a physician policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Boston University School of Medicine, and a professor of policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Dr. Faherty attended Emory University for both her MD and MPH in global epidemiology. She then completed her residency and chief residency in pediatrics at Boston Medical Center and Boston Children’s Hospital. She also received her MS in health policy research from the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Faherty’s clinical interests include caring for families affected by substance use and families who have come to Maine from all over the world. She enjoys thinking about systemic solutions to challenges her patients are facing that affect their health and wellbeing. Her research focuses on maternal-child health and public health emergency preparedness and response, both in U.S. and non-U.S. settings. Her current work addresses COVID-19 testing in K-12 schools; equitable COVID-19 vaccine delivery; policy responses to opioid use in pregnancy; and behavioral health surveillance in the disaster context. Her research has been funded by NIH, CDC, The Rockefeller Foundation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others.

Dr. Faherty lives in the Portland area with her husband and two young daughters.

Scholarship Areas of Interest: maternal-child health, pandemic preparedness and response

BBCH Scholarship Academy Coordinator

Sarah Gabrielson, MPH, BSN RN

Sarah Gabrielson, MPH, BSN RN

Sarah Gabrielson, MPH, BSN RN is the Children’s Health Research Navigator at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital and MaineHealth Children’s Health Service Line. In this role she creates educational resources for the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital Scholarship Academy; coordinates groups including the Children’s Health Service Line Access and Equity Special Interest Group; manages the selection process for BBCH SA membership and Faculty Resident Scholarship Program awards; and provides direct support for half of the BBCH SA members’ scholarship projects.

In previous clinical roles, Ms. Gabrielson has worked as a registered nurse with pediatric patients and their families along the continuum of care from inpatient to home health and school-based settings. Inspired to learn more about the social determinants of health she observed through her work as a pediatric home health nurse, Ms. Gabrielson earned a Master’s of Public Health degree from the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service in 2019. Her other recent work experience includes participation in the tracking and evaluation team of the Northern New England Clinical and Translational Research Network and as a researcher on a statewide epidemiological study of maternal opioid use disorder. Her recent qualitative research study of rural primary care clinician engagement in research has also given her insight into the factors that may support clinician-led research in Children’s Health at MMC and MaineHealth.

Sarah is an active member of some of the scholarship projects that she supports. She has been a team member in retrospective research on the association of neonatal head circumference with opioid exposure; neonatal resuscitation simulation and telesimulation-related educational research projects; and retrospective research and quality improvement projects on the identification and response to Adverse Childhood Experiences and associated clinical conditions.

Scholarship Areas of Interest: Ms. Gabrielson is passionate about contributing to scholarship to improve care team well-being, patient outcomes, health equity, and population health. Sarah especially enjoys supporting study design; teaching about data collection options and tools; and editing abstracts, posters and manuscripts. She finds something of interest to her in almost all scholarship ideas that you share with her – that is why she loves her job!

Children's Health Research Coordinator

Leah Marie Seften, BS

Leah Marie Seften, BS

Leah Marie Seften, BS is a Children’s Health Research Coordinator at Maine Medical Center. In her role she supports various scholarship projects for members of the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital Scholarship Academy. Additionally, she supports Dr. Alexa Craig’s Acute Care Research & Rural Disparities COBRE project on telemedicine for assessment of neonatal encephalopathy and Drs. Melendi and Zanno on their Acute Care COBRE Pilot Project. Prior to joining the Department of Pediatrics at Maine Medical Center, Leah Marie worked for the MaineHealth Institute for Research Clinical Trials Office supporting studies related to neurology and Covid-19.

Leah Marie received her Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience from Saint Michael’s College where she was awarded a national fellowship for positive engagement, “Dialoguing Across Differences”. Leah subsequently worked at Brigham and Women’s Hospital Department of Neurosurgery and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute Department of Neuro-oncology as a Clinical Research Coordinator coordinating clinical trials for the neuro-oncology, stroke, and spine divisions.

Outside of work, Leah volunteers as a Bereavement Facilitator for the Center for Grieving Children and loves to run, bike, and paddleboard with her dog.

Scholarship Areas of Interest: Clinical trials, oncolytic viruses, neuroplasticity, and grief

BBCH SA Steering Committee

Aaron Weiss, DO

Aaron Weiss, DO

Aaron Weiss, DO is a pediatric hematologist-oncologist the Maine Children’s Cancer Program at Maine Medical Center and a member of the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital Scholarship Academy steering committee.

Dr. Weiss graduated from the University of Rochester in 1994 and subsequently earned his medical degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1999. He completed a pediatric emphasis internship at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine/Albert Einstein Medical Center in 2000 followed by a pediatric residency at the AI duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, DE in 2003. He then went on to complete a pediatric hematology-oncology fellowship at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN in 2006. He subsequently spent six years as an attending pediatric hematologist-oncologist at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey/University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Jersey Shore University Medical Center.

Dr. Weiss has particular interest in sarcomas, particularly improving outcomes for patients with these disease types. He has co-authored a number of publications on this subject and is currently involved in conducting clinical trials both locally and nationally in the fields of desmoid tumor and soft tissue sarcoma. He is the Vice-Chair of the Soft Tissue Sarcoma Committee and Associate Vice-Chair of the Adolescent and Young Adult Committee of the Children’s Oncology Group.

Scholarship Areas of Interest: desmoid tumor and soft tissue sarcoma, clinical trials

Abby Fleisch, MD, MPH

Abby Fleisch, MD, MPH

Abby Fleisch, MD, MPH is an environmental health researcher at CORE, a pediatric endocrinologist at Maine Medical Center, and a member of the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital Scholarship Academy steering committee. She is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine and an Adjunct Associate Professor of Environmental Health at Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Fleisch received her undergraduate and medical degrees from Northwestern University. She completed residency in pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital/Boston Medical Center and fellowship in endocrinology at Boston Children’s Hospital. She participated in the Harvard-wide pediatric health services research fellowship and received a Masters of Public Health from Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. After serving on faculty at Boston Children’s Hospital for 3 years, she joined MMC in 2016.

Dr. Fleisch’s research is focused on the extent to which early life exposures to environmental toxicants such as air pollution and household chemicals are associated with childhood obesity and bone health. Dr. Fleisch is the principal investigator of an Outstanding New Environmental Scientist R01 award from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. She received the Academic Pediatric Association Michael Shannon Research Award in 2012 and an Endocrine Society Early Career Investigator Award in 2016.

Dr. Fleisch is a peer mentor for the Harvard Medical School-Harvard Catalyst Grant Review and Support Program and an affiliated faculty member and advisor to the New England Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit. She sees endocrinology patients at the Pediatric Subspecialty Clinic at MMC.

Scholarship Areas of Interest: childhood obesity, bone health, early life environmental exposures

Anne Marie (Ana) Cairns, DO, FAAP, FACP

Anne Marie (Ana) Cairns, DO, FAAP, FACP

Ana Cairns DO, FAAP, FACP is a Tufts University Professor of Pediatrics, an Attending Physician in Pediatric Pulmonology at Maine Medical Partners Pediatric Specialty Care, and a member of the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital Scholarship Academy steering committee. Dr. Cairns came to MMC in 1995, after residency and fellowship and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, to found the Division of Pediatric Pulmonology. Dr. Cairns served as the Division Director of Pediatric Pulmonology until 2012. She continues to serve as the MMC Cystic Fibrosis Center Director and oversees the Affiliate Cystic Fibrosis Center at Northern Light in Bangor, Maine.

In collaboration with Dr. Jonathan Zuckerman, Dr. Cairns has qualified for grant funding from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutics Development Network (TDN) since 1987. Through the TDN she has been principal investigator on over 35 cystic fibrosis trials including the recent trial for Trikafta which has changed the face of care for people with CF. She has received multiple awards for projects in cystic fibrosis quality improvement and serves on the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Center Committee overseeing the accreditation of cystic fibrosis programs across the country.

Scholarship Areas of Interest: participating in multi-center cystic fibrosis therapeutic studies, quality improvement initiatives to bring our Cystic Fibrosis Center to one of the top ten in the country

Brian Youth, MD

Brian Youth, MD

Brian Youth, MD is the Program Director of the Maine Medical Center Pediatric Residency Program, a primary care pediatrician at Maine Medical Partners Westbrook Pediatrics, an EPIC Physician Leader, and a member of the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital Scholarship Academy steering committee.

Dr. Youth graduated from the Brown University School of Medicine as part of the Dartmouth-Brown Program in 1992, and completed his Residency and Chief Residency at the University of Minnesota Hospital and Clinics in 1996. He joined MMC and MMP in 1996 and has called Maine home ever since. He was the medical director of the newborn nursery from 2000-2020, has been the pediatric residency director since 2004, and has been an EPIC physician builder and clinical lead since 2011. Dr. Youth finds great satisfaction in working with residents and medical students through his leadership role in the residency program as well as through serving as a continuity clinic preceptor at the Pediatric Clinic at MMC.

Dr. Youth lives in Scarborough with his wife, Jane, and is the father of three sons. He enjoys hiking, cycling, cooking and all things food related in and around Maine.

Scholarship Areas of Interest: newborn medicine, the use of electronic health records to improve care, quality improvement, and medical education

Project Name: Evaluation of point of care testing for glucose management in asymptomatic neonates at risk of hypoglycemia