Faculty Feature: Zachary Vesoulis, MD

Faculty Features

Zach Vesoulis was born in Cleveland, Ohio during years which qualify him for membership in the “Oregon Trail Generation.” He was fortunate to have a childhood free of Facebook, iPhones, and Twitter, instead spending his time outside learning photography and how not to crash his mountain bike. His family later moved to Hudson, a suburb of Cleveland, where he mastered the twin challenges of how to drive in real snow and cheer on professional sports teams with sub 0.500 winning averages.

He then headed south to Miami University, where he studied Microbiology and Psychology and met Meredith, who he would later marry; a so-called “Miami Merger.” After college he and Meredith ventured to Columbus where he followed in his father’s footsteps to become a physician, graduating from The Ohio State University, although he took a decidedly different tact into Pediatrics (as opposed to Pathology).

As would be his generational destiny, he and Meredith loaded their Conestoga wagon (a Honda Fit) with supplies (a lot of textbooks from medical school and some clothes) and their animals (three cats) and headed west to St. Louis where he would begin his residency in Pediatrics. He then had the opportunity to fast-track into the Neonatal/Perinatal Medicine fellowship program, which he completed in 2014.

During these formative years he was incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by excellent mentors who helped to guide and shape his developing career including F. Sessions Cole, Joseph Culver, Terrie Inder, Amit Mathur, and Jeff Neil. Under the guidance of Drs. Inder and Neil, he got his first real exposure to clinical research and had the opportunity to work on an exciting project examining seizures in preterm infants. His interest piqued, he embarked on a career in research, one which he never would have anticipated at the start of his residency.

After fellowship he joined the faculty and he and Dr. Mathur have spent the intervening years developing the WU Neonatal Neurology and Physiology Research Lab. Together, along with a team of fellows, they create new software algorithms to process and analyze measurements of physiology (including heart rate, pulse oximetry, blood pressure, and cerebral oximetry) to understand the function (and dysfunction) of cardiovascular physiology and the mechanisms behind brain injury in pre-term and term infants.

To support his work, Dr. Vesoulis was fortunate to receive the KL2 Career Development Award and several pilot grants. As a part of the KL2 program, he is working towards a master’s degree in clinical investigation. He recently received a project grant from the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation to support the next step of investigation into the mechanism of white matter injury in preterm infants, with the long term goal of changing the approach to oxygen and ventilator management for the prevention of this potentially devastating condition.

In his time away from work, Dr. Vesoulis greatly enjoys travelling with Meredith and their son Luke. It has taken a while to get back to the level of activities in the pre-child era (backpacking in the Andes, biking the Loire, exploring castles in the mountains of Portugal), but Luke recently proved his capabilities on a trip to the Grand Canyon and will meet his first real challenge when the whole family travels to Iceland this Summer.

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