Panelli Appointed as NIH/NICHD Women's Reproductive Health Research (WRHR) Scholar

The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology is excited to announce our latest Women’s Reproductive Health Research (WRHR) scholar, Danielle Panelli, MD. The WRHR program is funded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Stanford is one of 15 program sites nationally that offers this program to up-and-coming physician-scientists. Through the WRHR program, the selected junior faculty scholar has the opportunity to increase their basic, translational, and/or clinical research capacity through training, education, and mentorship for up to 5 years. 

Panelli is a familiar face in the department. In 2018, she began a Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellowship at Stanford. Her areas of interest have focused on the translational relationship between maternal mental health, cellular aging, and maternal morbidity. During her fellowship, she has published 3 articles, 1 book chapter, and has 5 papers under review. She was selected for the MCHRI Master’s Tuition Program award and will be starting a Master’s in Epidemiology and Clinical Research at Stanford in the fall. 

Dr. Paul Blumenthal, recruitment officer for our WRHR program commented, “We are thrilled to select Dr. Panelli as our WRHR Scholar this year. The field of candidates was highly competitive, but her proposal and overall plan stood out due to the truly innovative line of investigation, the multiple potential spin-offs, and the long-term viability of her concept from both the scientific and funding perspectives. I look forward to Dr. Panelli’s emergence as a mature and independent investigator.”

Panelli’s journey started at the University of California, Santa Barbara where as an undergrad, she worked as a teaching assistant for Organic Chemistry and Genetics. In 2009, she graduated with a degree in Biochemistry and was awarded the university’s Colville Dearborn Award for achieving the highest academic performance in all of science and mathematics. She then attended the University of California, San Diego for medical school, where she obtained NIH funding to conduct her own randomized-control trial comparing medical devices to secure fetal monitors during labor.  

Panelli completed her residency at the integrated program in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School.  During that time, her interests focused on answering clinical questions arising during labor, particularly for high risk pregnancies. She received an Expanding the Boundaries Grant from Harvard for her research and completed several publications during residency, including one she first-authored in Obstetrics & Gynecology evaluating clinical factors associated with presentation change of a second twin after vaginal delivery of the first. She received the SMFM Award for Excellence in Obstetrics during her chief year. 

Now as a WHRH scholar, she intends to explore how maternal mental health affects biological mechanisms that impact perinatal outcomes. Specifically, she will be investigating cellular aging in pregnancy. The first step in this process will be to characterize cellular aging in pregnancy, then to identify whether any interventions can leverage cellular aging to improve maternal mental health and pregnancy outcomes. 

“I am honored to have been selected as a WRHR scholar at Stanford. During my time as a fellow in Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Stanford, I have been fortunate to experience firsthand the incredible mentorship of our faculty and the fruitful opportunities for collaboration across departments which abound here,” Panelli shares. “This supportive, collaborative, and inquisitive environment provides the ideal framework for me to build the foundation of my longitudinal research arc as a WRHR scholar. Ultimately, my career goal as a clinician scientist is to identify successful wellness interventions that are effective in improving mental health and also translate to biologic pathways that affect maternal and child health across the lifespan.”

The WRHR at Stanford Program bridges clinical care with excellence in basic, clinical and translational research to address the national shortage of qualified investigators in this discipline. The Program includes a structured training plan of sufficient duration to achieve independence; individualized didactic education based on skills, competencies, and needs; extensive team-based mentoring; hands-on research; and protected time with immersion in a vibrant research community. Each Scholar will have a multidisciplinary mentor team as well as access to a wealth of resources and the rigorous reproductive research infrastructure of the Ob/Gyn Department and beyond. Learn more about the WRHR program.