Catherine Spong, M.D.

  • Paul C. MacDonald Distinguished Chair in Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology - Maternal Fetal Medicine


Catherine Y. Spong, M.D., is Professor and Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. She also serves as Chief of the Department’s Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine. Dr. Spong specializes in prematurity, fetal complications, and improving outcomes in children. Her clinical responsibilities are in the Parkland Health and Hospital System.

Dr. Spong received her M.D. from the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) in 1991. After serving as Chief Resident in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, she began her career at National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) as a Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellow, including clinical work at Georgetown University. Then, she became a Clinical Associate and Senior Staff Fellow at the National Institutes of Health and the NICHD’s intramural research program, where she directed a lab, the Unit on Perinatal and Developmental Neurobiology, focusing on neuroprotective peptides and fetal development utilizing models of fetal alcohol syndrome and Down syndrome.

In 2000, she joined NICHD’s extramural program and had a 23- year career where she served in many capacities including as NICHD’s Deputy Director, Acting Director, Associate Director for Extramural Research and Director of the Division of Extramural Research, and Chief of the Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch. She was the Chair of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Federal Task Force on Research Specific to Pregnant Women and Lactating Women.

Among Dr. Spong's areas of expertise are maternal and child health, emphasizing prematurity, fetal complications, and improving child outcomes. One of her major research interests has been the developing fetus. She holds several patents for neuroprotective agents that help prevent fetal injury. Other research interests include improving the understanding of stillbirth, fetal surgery for myelomeningocele, Zika in pregnancy, and the human placenta. During her tenure at NICHD, she launched the Human Placenta Project. She is a passionate advocate for inclusion in research for underrepresented groups.

Dr. Spong is board-certified in maternal-fetal medicine and obstetrics and gynecology. She is an Editor of William’s Obstetrics, Management of High Risk Pregnancy, Protocols of High Risk Pregnancy, and Stillbirth: Prediction, Prevention and Management. She has received numerous research awards, including the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine Achievement Award, the UMKC Alumnus of the Year Award, several NIH Director’s Awards, and a Surgeon General’s Certificate of Appreciation for her work on prematurity. She has published more than 270 peer-reviewed papers and been featured on national television and radio, including The CBS Early Show, the Diane Rehm Show, NPR’s All Things Considered, CNN, and Voice of America, discussing women’s health and pregnancy topics.

Education & Training
  • Fellowship - MedStar Georgetown University Hospital (1995-1998), Maternal Fetal Medicine
  • Residency - Harbor UCLA Medical Center (1991-1995), Obstetrics & Gynecology
  • Medical School - University of Missouri Kansas City School of Medicine (1985-1991)
Books & Publications