Laura Brown photo

Laura Brown MD

Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Neonatology, University of Colorado School of Medicine
  • Pediatric Perinatal Research (SOM)


Laura D. Brown, MD, received her BA from the University of Colorado Boulder and her MD from the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She is currently a neonatologist and sees patients at Children’s Hospital Colorado Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital NICU. She is a physician scientist who blends her basic science/translational research in fetal growth and metabolism with expertise in the clinical nutritional management of the preterm and intrauterine growth restricted (IUGR) neonate. Infants born with IUGR are at higher risk for morbidity and mortality immediately after birth; but equally as important, IUGR infants also are at higher risk for developing diabetes and heart disease in adulthood. Her work directly relates to the Ludeman Center goals because improving growth and nutrition in IUGR infants early in life will reduce the incidence for diabetes and heart disease later in life, for both men and women. 


Research + Funding 

Dr. Brown first became involved with the Ludeman Center when she received the K12 Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH) grant in 2008 to pursue her project, “Functional and Structural Adaptations of Fetal Skeletal Muscle to Nutrient and Anabolic Hormone Deficiencies Under Conditions of Placental Insufficiency and IUGR.” The project aimed to determine how the growth of skeletal muscle in the fetus is impacted by chronic restrictions in nutrients and oxygen from the placenta using an animal model of IUGR. With Ludeman Center support, she demonstrated that while skeletal muscle growth and development in the IUGR fetus was reduced to a greater degree than other organs in the fetal body, the muscle was still responsive to important fetal growth factors such as insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1). These novel discoveries showed that there is potential to recover muscle growth in the fetus affected by IUGR. She followed this work with Seed Grant funding from the Ludeman Center in 2012 with the project titled, “Stimulated Myoblast Proliferation in IUGR Fetuses.” Myoblasts are the future stem cells of muscle and are critical for optimizing muscle growth postnatally. She recognizes the center for providing funding opportunities, educational conferences, seminars and accessibility to a network of other scientists, both junior and senior, to establish collaborations and gain expertise.  She now is funded by the National Institutes of Health to continue her work in understanding how metabolic processes for growth in skeletal muscle are impacted by placental insufficiency. 

"The Ludeman Center is constantly providing support for those at the beginning of their research careers, and it has often been the center support that has enabled researchers to launch their careers and successfully obtain larger research grants, as was the case for me” Dr. Brown shares.   


Transforming Women’s Health 

Dr. Brown’s research goal continues to focus on understanding the basic biology of fetal muscle development and protein metabolism to optimize body composition and growth in infants born after exposure to pathological conditions in pregnancy, including IUGR. Her most recent novel discovery was that lower muscle mass in the IUGR fetus is due to a marked reduction in muscle protein synthesis rates, as opposed to increased protein breakdown rates. This finding is in contrast to what happens to muscle in adults who experience poor nutrition, where muscle protein breakdown rates increase. This key finding has shaped how we approach treatments to improve growth of the fetus during an IUGR pregnancy, as therapies must stimulate synthesis of proteins instead of preventing breakdown. It is her long-term goal to progress the research around women’s health, pregnancy health and the health of newborn babies.


Ludeman Family Center for Women's Health Research

CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center

12348 East Montview Boulevard

Mail Stop C-263

Aurora, CO 80045


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