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Ana G. Cristancho, MD, PhD
Ana G. Cristancho
Assistant Professor

Dr. Cristancho is a child neurologist specializing in Fetal and Neonatal Neurology. Her research focuses on understanding the mechanisms that regulate the extent of disabilities some kids have after prenatal and neonatal brain injury. Her goal is to help develop novel therapeutic interventions.



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Dr. Cristancho is an assistant professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Neurology at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. She was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and grew up in South Florida. She graduated from the University of Miami with a dual major in Biology and Philosophy. She completed her MD and PhD at the Perelman School of Medicine in the University of Pennsylvania. Her PhD was completed in the lab of Dr. Mitchell Lazar in Cell and Molecular Biology, studying transcription factors regulating adipocyte differentiation and acquiring expertise in biochemistry, molecular biology, and bioinformatics.

Dr. Cristancho completed her pediatrics and child neurology training at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. During her clinical training, she became interested in understanding why children affected by similar prenatal and perinatal injuries could have such a broad spectrum of developmental outcomes. Clinically, Dr. Cristancho specializes in Fetal and Neonatal Neurology. She completed her post-doctoral studies with Dr. Eric Marsh to develop and characterize clinically relevant models of neurodevelopmental brain injury. These were highly collaborative efforts with input from people with specializations in Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Psychiatry, Neonatology, Radiology, and Pathology.

Dr. Cristancho's primary interest is in studying how normal brain development is disrupted by acquired brain injuries that are the most common causes of neurodevelopmental disability worldwide. Her team focuses on the role of epigenome dysregulation accounting for long-term brain injury because many epigenetic regulators cause neurogenetic forms of neurodevelopmental disorders and are also amenable to many therapeutic interventions.

Among her notable career achievements so far, Dr. Cristancho received the following:

  • Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Award Finalist
  • Alavi-Dabiri Post-Doctoral Fellowship Award
  • Meg Olivia Barkman Teaching Award
  • Marc A. Dichter Award for Excellence in Translational Research

Education and Training

BS, University of Miami (Biology and Philosophy), 2004

PhD, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, 2011

MD, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, 2013

Residency, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (General Pediatrics), 2015

Residency, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (Child Neurology), 2018

Titles and Academic Titles

Assistant Professor

Professional Memberships

American Academy of Pediatrics, 2013-

American Academy of Neurology, 2016-

American Neurological Association, 2016-

Child Neurology Society, 2018-

Newborn Brain Society, 2020-

Society for Pediatric Research, 2020-

Professional Awards

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Research Training Program Scholar, 2000-2004

Gilliam Fellow, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 2006-2011

Balduin Lucke Memorial Prize for superior research on any problem in any field of experimental medicine and biology, 2011

American Academy of Neurology Award for Excellence in Clinical Neurology, 2013

Jessica A. Panzer “Good Catch” Award for Contribution to Clinical Care, 2017

Chief Resident, CHOP Child Neurology, 2017-2018

American Academy of Neurology Enhanced Resident Leadership Scholarship for Child Neurology, 2018

Marc A. Dichter Award for Excellence in Translational Research, 2018

Meg Olivia Barkman Teaching Award, 2018

Alavi-Dabiri Post-Doctoral Fellowship Award, 2021

Publication Highlights

Cristancho AG, Gadra EG, Samba IM, Zhao C, Ouyang M, Magnitsky S, Huang H, Viaene A, Anderson SA, Marsh ED. Deficits in seizure threshold and other behaviors in adult mice without gross neuroanatomic injury after late gestation transient prenatal hypoxia. Developmental Neuroscience. 2022 Mar; PMID: 35279653
Yardeni T, Cristancho AG, McCoy AJ, Schaefer PM, McManus MJ, Marsh ED, Wallace DC. An mtDNA mutant mouse demonstrates that mitochondrial deficiency can result in autism endophenotypes. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Feb; 118(6): e2021429118. PubMed PMID: 33536343
Joseph DJ, Von Deinmling M, Hasegawa Y, Cristancho AG, Ahrens-Nicklas RC, Rogers SL, Risbud R, McCoy AJ, Marsh ED. Postnatal Arx transcriptional activity regulates functional network properties of PV interneurons. iScience. 2020 Dec; 24(1): 101999. PubMed PMID: 33490907
Cristancho, AG, Marsh, ED. Epigenetics Modifiers: Potential Hub for Understanding and Treating Neurodevelopmental Disorders from Hypoxic Injury. J Neurodev Disord. 2020 Dec; 12(1): 37. PubMed PMID: 33327934
Tian G*, Cristancho AG*, Dubbs HA, Liu GT, Cowan NJ, Goldberg EM. A patient with lissencephaly, developmental delay, and infantile spasms, due to de novo heterozygous mutation of KIF2A. Mol Genet Genomic Med. 2016 Sep; 4(6): 599–603. PubMed PMID: 27896282 *co-first authors

Active Grants/Contracts

Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Award
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
July 2022 – June 2026
Cell type-specific epigenetic regulators of prenatal hypoxic brain injury
PI: Cristancho

Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award (K08)
April 2022 - March 2027
Global epigenetic regulation of prenatal hypoxic brain injury
PI: Cristancho