Rachel Leon, M.D., Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at UT Southwestern Medical Center. She joined the UT Southwestern faculty in 2019.

Dr. Leon completed medical and graduate school at West Virginia University School of Medicine, followed by a residency in pediatrics and a fellowship in neonatal-perinatal medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine/Riley Hospital for Children.

As a scientist, Dr. Leon is interested in neuroplacentology, an emerging field focused on placental connections to fetal health.


Other Post Graduate Training
West Virginia University School of Medicine (2013)
Graduate School
West Virginia University School of Medicine (2013)
Medical School
West Virginia University School of Medicine (2013)
Indiana University School of Medicine/Riley Hospital for Children (2016), Pediatrics
Indiana University School of Medicine/Riley Hospital for Children (2019), Neonatal-perinatal Medicine

Research Interest

  • Connections between neonatal cerebral blood flow/ autoregulation, placental pathology, and brain development.
  • Neuroprotection and neurodevelopmental outcomes in neonates with congenital heart disease, stroke, HIE, and prematurity.
  • Placental connections to fetal health, and specifically, placental influences on fetal brain development, a new field called neuroplacentology.
  • Using advanced magnetic resonance imaging techniques and analysis, she is investigating placental perfusion and oxygenation, and how this vital organ supports fetal brain development.


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

Wavelet-based neurovascular coupling can predict brain abnormalities in neonatal encephalopathy.
Das Y, Leon RL, Liu H, Kota S, Liu Y, Wang X, Zhang R, Chalak LF, Neuroimage Clin 2021 Oct 32 102856
Intravoxel incoherent motion MR imaging analysis for diagnosis of placenta accrete spectrum disorders: A pilot feasibility study.
León RL, Brown BP, Persohn SA, Norris CD, Steinhardt NP, Lin C, Territo PR, Magn Reson Imaging 2021 Jul 80 26-32
Neuroplacentology in congenital heart disease: placental connections to neurodevelopmental outcomes.
Leon RL, Mir IN, Herrera CL, Sharma K, Spong CY, Twickler DM, Chalak LF, Pediatr Res 2021 Apr
Therapeutic Hypothermia in Transport Permits Earlier Treatment Regardless of Transfer Distance.
Leon RL, Krause KE, Sides RS, Koch MB, Trautman MS, Mietzsch U, Am J Perinatol 2020 Oct
A retrospective segmentation analysis of placental volume by magnetic resonance imaging from first trimester to term gestation.
León RL, Li KT, Brown BP, Pediatr Radiol 2018 12 48 13 1936-1944
Cyanosis and Stroke due to Functional Cor Triatriatum Dexter in a Neonate.
León RL, Zaban NB, Schamberger MS, Ho CY, Mietzsch U, Neonatology 2018 113 3 231-234
Bryostatin improves survival and reduces ischemic brain injury in aged rats after acute ischemic stroke.
Tan Z, Turner RC, Leon RL, Li X, Hongpaisan J, Zheng W, Logsdon AF, Naser ZJ, Alkon DL, Rosen CL, Huber JD, Stroke 2013 Dec 44 12 3490-7
Worsened outcome from middle cerebral artery occlusion in aged rats receiving 17?-estradiol.
Leon RL, Li X, Huber JD, Rosen CL, Endocrinology 2012 Jul 153 7 3386-93
Potential age-dependent effects of estrogen on neural injury.
Leon RL, Huber JD, Rosen CL, Am. J. Pathol. 2011 Jun 178 6 2450-60
Pathophysiology of the vascular wall and its relevance for cerebrovascular disorders in aged rodents.
Popa-Wagner A, Pirici D, Petcu EB, Mogoanta L, Buga AM, Rosen CL, Leon R, Huber J, Curr Neurovasc Res 2010 Aug 7 3 251-67

Honors & Awards

  • UT-FOCUS Award
    UT Southwestern Medical Center (2021)
  • Nalepa Fellowship Award Finalist
    Indiana University Dept. of Pediatrics (2019)
  • Joyce Victoria McRobbie Pediatric Fellowship Award
    Indiana University Dept. Pediatrics (2017)
  • Presentation/Travel Award
    E.J. Van Liere Memorial Convocation (2010)
  • Scholarship, T32 Behavioral and Biomedical Sciences Training Grant
    West Virginia University (2009)
  • Travel Award
    American Academy of Neurology (2007)
  • Beta Beta Beta Biology Honor Society
  • Departmental Honors, Biology Department
    Guilford College (2005)
  • High Honors, Bachelor of Science Degree
    Guilford College (2005)
  • Poster Award
    Meredith College Undergraduate Research Conference (2005)
  • Women in Science Scholarship
    GlaxoSmithKline (2003-2005)
  • Honors Program Scholarship
    Guilford College (2001-2005)

Professional Associations/Affiliations

  • American Academy of Pediatrics (2013)
  • American Medical Association (2009)
  • Cardiac Neurodevelopment Outcomes Collaborative and Developing Brain SIG (2020)
  • Children's Hospitals neonatal Consortium Cardiac Focus Group (2020)
  • Conquering CHD (2021)
  • International Society for Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism (2020)
  • Newborn Brain Society (2021)
  • Society for Pediatric Research (2018)
  • Texas Pediatric Society (2020)
  • Trainees and Early Career Neonatologists, Member (2016)