Catherine Spong, M.D.

  • Paul C. MacDonald Distinguished Chair in Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology - Maternal Fetal Medicine
  • Fetal complications
  • Improving outcomes in children


Catherine Y. Spong, M.D., is a Professor and the Paul C. MacDonald Distinguished Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. A specialist in prematurity, fetal complications, and improving outcomes in children, Dr. Spong’s clinical responsibilities include high-risk labor and delivery, the antepartum unit, the extended-care unit, and obstetric and gynecologic sonography.

Dr. Spong earned her medical and undergraduate degrees in biology and chemistry at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. After serving as Chief Resident in obstetrics and gynecology at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, she began her career at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) as a Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellow, including clinical work at Georgetown University. She then became a Clinical Associate and Senior Staff Fellow at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) 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.

During her 23-year career at the NICHD and the NIH, Dr. Spong served in many capacities, including as NICHD's Acting Director, Deputy Director, Associate Director for Extramural Research, Director of the Division of Extramural Research, and Chief of the Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch. She also served as Chair of the Department of Health and Human Services Federal Task Force on Research Specific to Pregnant Women and Lactating Women.

In 2018, she joined the UT Southwestern faculty as Chief of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and Vice Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

One of Dr. Spong's major research interests has been the developing fetus. She holds several patents for neuroprotective agents that help prevent fetal injury. She also has extensive expertise in clinical and translational research, leading the NICHD’s Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network – a multicenter network focused on trials in obstetrics. She launched and directed initiatives to understand the human placenta, genomics of preterm birth, stillbirth, adverse pregnancy and neonatal outcomes, and fetal surgery trials. She is a passionate advocate for inclusion of underrepresented groups in research.

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 300 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)
Professional Associations & Affiliations
  • American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  • American Gynecological and Obstetrical Society
  • American Medical Association
  • Bellevue Obstetrical and Gynecological Society
  • Perinatal Research Society
  • Society for Gynecologic Investigation
  • Society for Neuroscience
  • Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine
Honors & Awards
  • Paul C. MacDonald Distinguished Chair in Obstetrics and Gynecology 2021, UT Southwestern Medical Center
  • Top Doctors Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist 2021, Texas Magazine
  • Texas Super Doctors list 2021, Texas Monthly
  • Gillette Professorship in Obstetrics and Gynecology 2020, UT Southwestern Medical Center
  • Rose & Isador Forman Visiting Professor 2020, Temple University
  • Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award 2019, Marquis Who's Who
  • Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society 2019, University of Missouri-Kansas City Medical School
  • Distinguished Service Award 2019, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Director’s Award, (2018, 2010, 2008, 2007, 2005, 2003) National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
  • Hall of Fame 2018, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  • National Institutes of Health Director’s Award, (2018, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2004) National Institutes of Health
  • Lifetime Achievement Award 2018, Marquis Who's Who
  • Paul A. Harper Lecture 2016, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Top Obstetricians and Gynecologists in the Leading Physicians of the World 2016, International Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  • America’s Top Obstetricians & Gynecologists, (2014, 2013, 2010) Consumers’ Research Council of America
  • Alumna of the Year 2012, University of Missouri-Kansas City
  • Trial of the Year 2012, Society for Clinical Trials
  • Lifetime Achievement Award 2008, Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine
  • Certificate of Appreciation 2008, United States Surgeon General
  • George E Stevens Outstanding Teacher Award 1996, Georgetown University
Books & Publications
  • Developing fetus
  • Fetal complications
  • Fetal surgery for myelomeningocele
  • Human placenta
  • Improving child outcomes
  • Inclusion of underrepresented groups in evidence-based research
  • Maternal and child health
  • Neuroprotective agents that help prevent fetal injury
  • Prematurity
  • Stillbirth
  • Zika in pregnancy

Clinical Focus

  • Fetal complications
  • Improving outcomes in children
  • Prematurity

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