About Us

Our Researchers


Daniel Rubens, Associate Professor Dept of Anesthesia, Seattle Children's Hospital; University of Washington School of Medicine

Daniel Rubens, MD is Board Certified in Anesthesia and an Associate Professor and Transplant Director for Anesthesia at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Daniel began practicing medicine in 1999 as an Assistant Professor. He also has instigated and been involved in animal and epidemiological research for the past ten years. During that research, he has witnessed infants in his clinical practice suffer respiratory compromise and cardiac arrest which led to his interest in SIDS and the physiology around the syndrome. Dr. Daniel Rubens’ research has indicated that problems with hearing and the inner ear may be strongly associated with SIDS. Working without funding, Rubens and his colleagues originally studied an archive of newborn hearing tests from the state

of Rhode Island, comparing the hearing test results of babies who later died of SIDS with otherwise similar children who survived. They found that the babies who later died had lower hearing levels in the right ear. Rubens proposes that delicate vestibular cells in the inner ear are damaged during the birthing process. He suggests that these cells (well known for their role in maintaining balance), are additionally responsible for transmitting information that regulates breathing and arousal when an infant is exposed to a suffocating environment. His newest study, published in a journal called Neuroscience, identified in an animal model that inner ear dysfunction resulted in an inability to wake up and move away when exposed to suffocating gas mixtures. Rubens explains that all babies can move into positions that restrict their breathing while asleep. Those with hearing impairment in at least one ear don’t have the automatic survival mechanism to rouse and reposition themselves.

Jan-Marino Ramirez, PhD; Director, Center for Integrative Brain Research Seattle Children’s Research Institute; Professor, Neurological Surgery, Pediatrics, Physiology and Biophysics, University of Washington School of Medicine

Dr. Nino Ramirez is internationally known for his work in neuronal control of breathing. He joined the Seattle Children’s Research Institute in 2008, where he established the Center for Integrative Brain Research (CIBR). He is currently the Director of CIBR and Professor for Neurological Surgery and Pediatrics, and Adjunct Professor for Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Washington (Seattle). He serves as the Associate Director for the Center on Health Development and Disability (CHDD) at the University of Washington and is Co-Director for the Neurodevelopmental Research Consortium (NDRC).

Before coming to Seattle, he spent 12 years at the University of Chicago, where he was Chairman and Professor of the Department of Anatomy in the Pritzker School of Medicine. Professor Ramirez has published more than 100 peer-reviewed publications. He received his doctorate in Neuroscience from the University of Regensburg in Germany, and is a member of the Society of Neuroscience, the American Physiological Society and the American Epilepsy Society. He is on the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Rett Syndrome Foundation, and on the Scientific Board of the German Rett Syndrome Foundation. The Ramirez lab investigates the neuronal mechanisms that lead to a variety of neurological disorders, which provides the foundation for potential cures for breathing disorders in Rett Syndrome, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), epilepsy and other neurological disorders.

Professor Peter Fleming CBE; FRSA PhD; MB ChB; FRCP (London); FRCP (Canada); FRCPCH

After undergraduate training in Bristol and postgraduate training in paediatrics at the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, London, and the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Professor Fleming returned to Bristol in 1978. Since then he has worked in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at St Michaels Hospital and the Children’s Sleep and Developmental Physiology Laboratory at Bristol Children’s Hospital. From 1982-2012, he led the service for children on long term ventilatory support for the Southwest of England. Since January 2013, he has worked primarily in research and teaching.

Professor Fleming’s research has included extensive studies of normal physiological development of infants and children, both in the laboratory and community setting, and over the past 25 years has led several large-scale epidemiological studies on factors that contribute to unexpected deaths in infants and children. These studies were amongst the first to identify the importance of infant’s sleeping position, heavy wrapping, exposure to tobacco smoke and other features of the sleep environment as contributory factors to unexpected death in infancy. He was the lead clinician in the UK “Back to Sleep” Campaign in 1991, which led to a dramatic fall in the numbers of infants dying suddenly and unexpectedly. This work is estimated to have saved over 15,000 infants’ lives in the UK, and over 100,000 worldwide.

Marta C Cohen, MD, FRCPath, DMJ (Pathology); Diploma in Medical Education; Consultant Pediatric and Perinatal Pathologist at Sheffield Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield, UK.

She is also the Head of Department and an Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Sheffield. She has a deep interest in Pediatric forensic pathology which led her to undertake further training in this discipline. Marta’s MD Thesis focused on Sudden Unexpected Infant Death.

Marta Cohen has published more than 120 papers in peer-reviewed journals and numerous book chapters, mainly addressing various

aspects of the Pediatric autopsy and of sudden infant death. She is a keen researcher and is frequently invited to lecture at international conferences and courses. She recently co-edited the books: Pediatric and Perinatal Autopsy Manual and Essentials of Surgical Pediatric Pathology (Cambridge University Press).

Marta Cohen is the current President of the International Paediatric Pathology Association (IPPA), an organisation representing the Pediatric pathology societies from all continents; the Director of the IPPA Pediatric Pathology Post Graduate Course and the past Chair of the Paediatric Pathology Working Group of the European Society of Pathology.

Travis Allen, CRNA Research Investigator Board Certification CRNA Nurse Anesthetist; Medical/Professional School University of Phoenix, San Diego California State University Fullerton, Pasadena; Nurse Anesthetist

Travis came to Children’s as a full-time clinician, but soon became interested in research and started working with Daniel Rubens in the lab on his days off. He’s excited about their discovery linking the inner ear to respiratory control and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The possibility that infants could be screened at birth to avoid the devastating consequences of SIDS encourages him to work hard to help children and their families.