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The inspiration for Dr. McAdams' research derives from his clinical exposure to vulnerable newborns who have sustained brain injuries. McAdams' research focuses on investigating how pain and sedation medications commonly used in the neonatal intensive care unit can alter neurodevelopment. He is studying the effects of morphine and stress on levels of microRNAs, small non-coding RNA molecules that can regulate gene expression in the neonatal brain using a murine model. Additionally, he is studying the effects of dexmedetomidine, a selective alpha-2 adrenoceptor agonist that produces analgesic and sedative effects on neonatal brain development using a rat model. The goal of this work is to determine the potential neurodevelopmental impact of pain and sedation medicines to make sure these medicines are used in a safe and judicious manner in neonates. McAdams is also a strong advocate of improving care practices through the implementation of evidence-based practices with a current interest in advocating delayed cord clamping in newborns to optimize neurodevelopmental outcomes.
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