Jose L. Peiro, MD, PhD, wants to see fetal medicine keep growing, expanding, and advancing. As both a clinician and researcher, he is driven to spread his expertise in the field with others. “My goals are to provide help to people with complex medical problems, and to share my knowledge with others,” Peiro said. “I have a lot of years of training and I want to transfer that experience to improve outcomes even more.”
Peiro started out in pediatric surgery after completing medical school in his hometown of Barcelona, Spain. An observership in fetal surgery brought him to the United States in 2001 where he studied at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. That’s when he first met Foong-Yen Lim, MD, and Aimen F. Shaaban, MD, both of whom he works with now in the Cincinnati Fetal Care Center.
“After working in pediatric surgery, I saw that many problems in the neonate came from the in utero period. When I discovered the possibility of intervening in utero before birth, there was no return,” Peiro said. “I became completely involved in the field. At the time, there were not too many people doing this type of thing, so I also saw it as a good field where I could innovate.”
An overseas opportunity
Back in Barcelona, Peiro helped to establish a strong program in fetal medicine and surgery. Then in 2013, a position opened up at the Cincinnati Fetal Care Center. “I saw it as a good opportunity because I know Cincinnati is an amazing place full of resources and good collaborations for clinical work and research,” he said.
Now he enjoys shared time both in the clinic and in the lab. On the clinical side, Peiro works with the Division of Pediatric General and Thoracic Surgery participating in general surgery clinic and calls. He also is a member of the congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) team where he treats children affected by CDH, and he manages babies who are on ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation).
As endoscopic fetal surgery director for the Cincinnati Fetal Care Center, Peiro performs both fetal surgeries and fetal counseling.
In his lab, he and his team are working on implementing novel techniques in fetoscopic surgery, as well as doing basic research with congenital malformations such as spina bifida, CDH and gastroschisis. “The aim of the lab is to understand congenital malformations and establish fetal therapies to improve prognosis,” Peiro explained. “We are doing a lot of research into technology and endoscopic approaches, designing new devices and new products.”
Researching the weak points in medicine
Innovation drives Peiro’s work. “I like to try new things to improve the outcomes even more,” he said. “Nothing is perfect in medicine. I aim to research the weak points and improve that in my lab.”
The decision to move from Spain to Cincinnati was one Peiro’s whole family had input on, including his wife, a pediatric nurse, and his two teenage sons. After three years here, Peiro said they have transitioned well and are enjoying Cincinnati, particularly their family trips to get Graeter’s ice cream. They are all looking forward to returning to Barcelona this summer to visit family and friends.
Peiro especially appreciates the teamwork and level of expertise among his coworkers in the Fetal Care Center. “I have good partners here who are very experienced,” he said. “I feel I am in the right place in terms of being with people who are collaborative and work as a team. It is wonderful when we can improve the outcome for our patients. Unfortunately we don’t have a solution for everyone, but we do have a solution for many of them.”