A photo of Loren Peña.

Loren DM Pena, MD, PhD

  • Clinical Geneticist, Division of Human Genetics
  • Associate Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics
I’m always glad to apply my knowledge and experience to partner with families in their diagnostic journey and to be able to provide hope in the form of promising treatments for patients affected with rare disorders.



I love the energy and forthrightness of interacting with children. I do my best to offer hope to families who are looking for a diagnosis or a treatment for their child. As a clinical geneticist, I work with children who have rare and orphan diseases, lysosomal storage disorders and metabolic disorders. I also work in neurogenetics and gene discovery.

I’m always glad to apply my knowledge and experience to partner with families in their diagnostic journey and to be able to provide hope in the form of promising treatments for patients affected with rare disorders.

I participated in the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-supported Medical Scientist Training Program at Northwestern University, where I received my PhD in cancer genetics in 2002 and my MD in 2004. I am trained and board certified in general pediatrics and clinical genetics.

My mantra is “it’s not over till it’s over.” I use my genomics experience to apply every tool at my disposal, in both the clinical and research areas, to reach a diagnosis. I developed the Post Exome Clinic at Cincinnati Children’s as a model for the evaluation of patients who have had extensive evaluations yet remain undiagnosed.

I am also interested in skeletal dysplasias. I’m a member of the Skeletal Dysplasias Center at Cincinnati Children's, where I collaborate with orthopaedics, radiology, and endocrinology to evaluate, diagnose and manage patients with these conditions.

In my research, I am the lead faculty member for clinical trials in genetics. I lead several clinical trials for rare conditions and in this way, I contribute to the field as we explore new candidate treatments. Leveraging genomic technology for diagnostics and exploring post-exome evaluations to improve the current diagnostic yield of exome and genome sequencing is another interest of mine.

Another area of research, which ties to development of new treatments, is characterizing the longitudinal history of new disorders, such as a new condition related to changes in the IRF2BPL gene. I described this new condition, NEDAMSS, as an investigator in the Undiagnosed Diseases Network at Duke University. I also maintain an interest in Shashi Pena syndrome, described in 2016 to be caused by mutations in the ASXL2 gene. I also collaborate on a multiinstitution registry for chromatin remodeling disorders.

When I’m not at work, hiking in the high desert of southern Utah is my happy place.

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A resource of lipidomics and metabolomics data from individuals with undiagnosed diseases. Kyle, JE; Stratton, KG; Zink, EM; Kim, YM; Bloodsworth, KJ; Monroe, ME; Bacino, CA; Hanchard, NA; Lewis, RA; Rosenfeld, JA; et al. Scientific data. 2021; 8.

Phenotypic expansion of CACNA1C-associated disorders to include isolated neurological manifestations. Rodan, LH; Spillmann, RC; Kurata, HT; Lamothe, SM; Maghera, J; Jamra, RA; Alkelai, A; Antonarakis, SE; Atallah, I; Bar-Yosef, O; et al. Genetics in Medicine. 2021; 23:1922-1932.

Cardiac responses in paediatric Pompe disease in the ADVANCE patient cohort. Byrne, BJ; Colan, SD; Kishnani, PS; Foster, MC; Sparks, SE; Gibson, JB; An Haack, K; Stockton, DW; Peña, LD M; Hahn, SH; et al. Cardiology in the Young. 2021; 1-10.

Defining the genotypic and phenotypic spectrum of X-linked MSL3-related disorder. Brunet, T; McWalter, K; Mayerhanser, K; Anbouba, GM; Armstrong-Javors, A; Bader, I; Baugh, E; Begtrup, A; Bupp, CP; Callewaert, BL; et al. Genetics in Medicine. 2021; 23:384-395.

Early infantile epileptic encephalopathy due to biallelic pathogenic variants in PIGQ: Report of seven new subjects and review of the literature. Johnstone, DL; Nguyen, TT M; Zambonin, J; Kernohan, KD; St-Denis, A; Baratang, NV; Hartley, T; Geraghty, MT; Richer, J; Majewski, J; et al. Journal of Inherited Metabolic Disease. 2020; 43:1321-1332.

GATAD2B-associated neurodevelopmental disorder (GAND): clinical and molecular insights into a NuRD-related disorder. Shieh, C; Jones, N; Vanle, B; Au, M; Huang, AY; Silva, AP G; Lee, H; Douine, ED; Otero, MG; Choi, A; et al. Genetics in Medicine. 2020; 22:878-888.

Partial Loss of USP9X Function Leads to a Male Neurodevelopmental and Behavioral Disorder Converging on Transforming Growth Factor β Signaling. Johnson, BV; Kumar, R; Oishi, S; Alexander, S; Kasherman, M; Vega, MS; Ivancevic, A; Gardner, A; Domingo, D; Corbett, M; et al. Biological Psychiatry. 2020; 87:100-112.

The genome empowerment scale: An assessment of parental empowerment in families with undiagnosed disease. McConkie-Rosell, A; Schoch, K; Sullivan, J; Cope, H; Spillmann, R; Palmer, CG S; Pena, L; Jiang, Y; Daniels, N; Walley, N; et al. Clinical Genetics. 2019; 96:521-531.

Clinical characteristics and genotypes in the ADVANCE baseline data set, a comprehensive cohort of US children and adolescents with Pompe disease. Kishnani, PS; Gibson, JB; Gambello, MJ; Hillman, R; Stockton, DW; Kronn, D; Leslie, ND; Pena, LD M; Tanpaiboon, P; Day, JW; et al. Genetics in Medicine. 2019; 21:2543-2551.

Pathogenic variants in USP7 cause a neurodevelopmental disorder with speech delays, altered behavior, and neurologic anomalies. Fountain, MD; Oleson, DS; Rech, ME; Segebrecht, L; Hunter, JV; McCarthy, JM; Lupo, PJ; Holtgrewe, M; Moran, R; Rosenfeld, JA; et al. Genetics in Medicine. 2019; 21:1797-1807.

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