NEC Society Expands Scientific Advisory Council

The NEC Society is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the incidence of neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis. Founded in 2014 by a mother who lost her son to NEC, the NEC Society brings together diverse clinicians, investigators, family-patient advocates and other stakeholders to better prevent and treat this devastating disease.

The NEC Society’s Scientific Advisory Council serves as the organization’s core scientific leadership team, working alongside the organization’s board of directors, to:

  • Make key organizational decisions
  • Seek and secure funding
  • Develop, approve, and implement projects and materials
  • Advise the overall advancement of the organization

The NEC Society’s Scientific Advisory Council is comprised of renowned champions for necrotizing enterocolitis research, prevention and improved outcomes. The Scientific Advisory Council works in direct partnership with the family-patient advocates who lead the organization, resulting in an unparalleled ability to effect change. 

The NEC Society is thrilled to expand the Scientific Advisory Council and welcome three additional council members. Dr. Gail E. Besner, Dr. Troy A. Markel and Dr. Mark Underwood join this distinguished group of NEC Society council members:

  • Steven Abrams, MD, University of Texas at Austin
  • Michael Caplan, MD, Northshore University Health System
  • Elizabeth Cristofalo, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins Hospital
  • Samir K. Gadepalli, MD, MBA, University of Michigan
  • Sheila M. Gephart, PhD, RN, University of Arizona
  • Amy Hair, MD, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s Hospital
  • Jae Kim, MD, PhD, University of California, San Diego
  • Steven J. Mcelroy, MD, University of Iowa
  • Alexander Penn, PhD, US Army Institute of Surgical Research
  • Richard Ehrenkranz, MD, Yale

The NEC Society is honored to introduce you to our newest council members! We are incredibly grateful for their commitment to preventing and treating necrotizing enterocolitis, and look forward to our work together. Please join us in welcoming, Dr. Gail E. Besner, Dr. Troy A. Markel and Dr. Mark Underwood to the NEC Society’s Scientific Advisory Council!

Gail E. Besner, MD, Nationwide Children’s Hospital Besner Photo
As a surgeon and scientist, Dr. Besner joined Nationwide Children’s Hospital and The Ohio State University in 1991 upon completion of her pediatric surgical training. She holds the H. William Clatworthy, Jr. Chair in Surgery and is the Chief of Pediatric Surgery at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. She was the Program Director of the Pediatric Surgery Residency Training Program for many years, and now serves as the Associate Program Director. In 1991, Dr. Besner established a basic science research laboratory in pediatric surgery at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and has served as the Director of Pediatric Surgical Research since. Dr. Besner’s research has received continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health for the past 22 years. Her research focuses on identifying novel therapeutic strategies to protect the intestines from necrotizing enterocolitis including the use of probiotics, stem cells and a growth factors, as well as the production of tissue engineered intestine. Dr. Besner has made important contributions in both the clinical and basic science arenas. She is the author of more than 170 articles and has delivered over 450 local, national and international presentations. She was the lead surgeon for the successful separation of three sets of conjoined twins at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the first set (pygopagus) from Liberia, Africa, the second set (thoraco-omphalopagus) from Central Ohio, and the third set (pygopagus) from Uganda, Africa.

Troy A. Markel, MD, FACS, FAAP, Indiana University Markel Troy_43 5x7
Dr. Troy Markel is a native of Pennsylvania and attended the University of Delaware for his undergraduate education. He obtained a B.A. in Biology and minored in chemistry and psychology. He then attended Penn State University College of Medicine in Hershey, Pennsylvania for his medical training. Following medical school, he attended Indiana University for his general surgery residency and pediatric surgery fellowship. He has an interest in basic science research and has a laboratory dedicated to stem cell biology and its applications for treating necrotizing enterocolitis. His clinical interests include neonatal surgery, short bowel syndrome, and extracorporeal circulatory support.

Mark Underwood, MD, University of California, Davis Underwood1
Dr. Underwood received his undergraduate degree in Italian from Brigham Young University, his MD from Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, did his pediatric residency at UCLA, and then practiced general pediatrics in Montana and New Zealand for 13 years. He then came to UC Davis where he received fellowship training in neonatology. He has been on the faculty at UC Davis since 2006 and has been the chief of neonatology since 2014. He has received grant support from the Children’s Miracle Network and the National Institutes of Health for his research which is focused on prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis through human milk feeding and administration of probiotics.  


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