In This Section

Karen M. Puopolo, MD, PhD
Karen M. Puopolo
Chief, Section on Newborn Medicine, CHOP Newborn Care at Pennsylvania Hospital

Dr. Puopolo helped lead the research team that developed and validated multivariate prediction models for neonatal early-onset sepsis risk assessment. Her current research addresses the impacts of maternal immunity, perinatal antibiotic exposure, and neonatal infection on infant and childhood health.



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Dr. Puopolo began her neonatal research career investigating mechanisms of virulence in Group B Streptococcus. Her research now focuses on neonatal sepsis epidemiology and risk assessment. She is funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study the impact of neonatal antibiotic exposures on the newborn and early childhood microbiome, and on infant and early childhood health. Dr. Puopolo's achievements include these research highlights:

  • Co-led the collaborative team that developed and validated the multivariate prediction models that form the Neonatal Early-Onset Sepsis Calculator
  • Lead author for revised American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for management of early-onset sepsis among term and preterm infants
  • Lead author for revised national guidelines for prevention of perinatal Group B Streptococcal disease
  • Faculty member for Vermont-Oxford Network quality collaborative, Choosing Antibiotics Wisely.”

Dr. Puopolo received her undergraduate degree in physics from Yale University, and subsequently MD and PhD degrees from the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. She completed Pediatric residency and Neonatal-Perinatal fellowship training at Boston Children’s Hospital. Dr. Puopolo was on the faculty of Harvard Medical School from 2000 - 2014 where she was a physician and laboratory-based researcher at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Channing Laboratory.

Dr. Puopolo lives in Swarthmore, Pennyslvania, with her husband and their four children.

Education and Training

BS, Yale University (Physics and Applied Physics), 1985

MD, Tufts University (Medicine), 1993

PhD, Tufts University (Cellular and Molecular Physiology), 1993

Internship, Boston Children's Hospital (Pediatrics), 1994

Residency, Boston Children's Hospital (Pediatrics), 1997

Fellowship, Boston Children's Hospital (Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine), 2000

Titles and Academic Titles

Chief, Section on Newborn Medicine, CHOP Newborn Care at Pennsylvania Hospital

Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

Attending Physician, Division of Neonatology, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Professional Memberships

Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society, 1992-

Massachusetts Medical Society, 1985-

American Academy of Pediatrics, 1993-

Society for Pediatric Research, 2006-

Section on Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, American Academy of Pediatrics, 2013-

Committee on Fetus and Newborn, American Academy of Pediatrics, 2014-

American Pediatric Society, 2016-

Editorial Board member, NeoReviews, 2013-2019

Editorial Board member, Pediatrics, 2020-

Vermont-Oxford Network faculty member, 2016-

Professional Awards

Sydney S. Gellis Award in Pediatrics, 1993

Top 10 New Findings in Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Infectious Diseases Society of America, 2005

Merton R. Bernfeld Award in Mentoring, 2007

Partners in Excellence Award, 2011

Continuous Process Improvement Program Alumni Excellence Award, 2013

UPHS Quality and Patient Safety Award, 2015

UPHS Quality and Patient Safety Award, 2016

UPHS Quality and Patient Safety Award, 2018

UPHS Quality and Patient Safety Award, 2019

Publication Highlights

Active Grants/Contracts

Analyses of the Effect of Cesarean Delivery on Weight Gain

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • 2019-2020
  • The purpose of this study is to determine the impact of cesarean section delivery on the rate of weight gain in the first five years after birth.
  • PI: Puopolo, KM

Maternal and Neonatal Group B Streptococcus Seroepidemiology

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • 2019-2021
  • The purpose of this study is to determine the proportion of pregnant American women who have naturally occurring, serotype-specific antibody to Group B Streptococcus.
  • PI: Puopolo, KM

Perinatal COVID-19 in the United States: Surveillance and Epidemiology

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • 2020-2021
  • This study will utilize a national perinatal COVID-19 registry to describe maternal and newborn demographic and clinical characteristics associated with maternal COVID-19 at the time of birth.
  • PI: Puopolo, KM

SARS-CoV-2 Seroepidemiology Among Pregnant Women and Newborns in Philadelphia

  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (Foerderer Award)
  • 2020-2021
  • This internally funded pilot grant will assess overall seroprevalence among the women giving birth in two maternity centers in Philadelphia and specifically will estimate the placental transfer.
  • PI: Puopolo, KM

Early Life Antibiotics, Gut Microbiome Development, and Risk of Childhood Obesity

  • The objective of this study is to assemble and follow longitudinally a large, diverse birth cohort to determine the relationship between (1) antibiotic exposure and gut microbiome development; (2) antibiotic exposure and weight gain/adiposity; (3) and microbiome development and weight gain/adiposity.
  • PI: Gerber, JS

Links of Interest

Neonatal Early - Onset Sepsis Calculator

Collaborating Centers:

Other Associated Research Centers:

  • CHOP/PENN Perinatal Infectious Disease
  • Clinical Futures