Barbara Medoff-Cooper, PhD, RN, FAAN
“Our research on premature infants and feeding behaviors makes a difference in people’s lives. I am proud to help prepare the next generation of researchers.”
- PhD, Temple University, 1984
- MS, University of Maryland, 1972
- BSN, Trenton State College, 1970
innovation takes many forms. As a nurse scientist in the cardiac intensive care unit at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia I recognized that the care of infants was meeting the physiologic needs but not the developmental needs. With the collaboration with the new clinical specialist we created a new paradigm of care for infants post cardiac surgery- developmental care which we adapted from my experience in the NICU.
I have studied feeding behaviors as a proxy for neurologic integrity over the past 35 years. To add objectively to the measurement of feeding behaviors I have collaborated with engineers to develop a feeding device which we call the Neoneur. I am the co-owner of the patents and we are currently working to integrate this technology into clinical care.
My research has provided me the opportunity to work with families from all walks of life. One of the goals of my team has always been to sure that we enrolled the most at-risk families into our interventions to support them in care of their high risk infants. My team has served as advocates for homeless mothers, mothers living in extreme poverty and dealing with mental illness.
I am not longer teaching in the class room.
Dr. Medoff-Cooper’s pioneering research focused on infant development, feeding behaviors in high-risk infants, and infant temperament. Her innovations, most notably the Early Infancy Temperament Questionnaire and the NeoNur device, have changed the way clinicians care for premature and chronically ill infants, resulting in improved infant development progress and ability to feed and grow.
Nurse Researcher and Innovator
With funding from NIH, National Institute of Nursing Research, the Benjamin Franklin Partnership and professional organizations, Dr. Medoff-Cooper’s research has been recognized throughout the world for its impact on improving care of premature infants and infants born with complex congenital heart disease. The Early Infancy Temperament Questionnaire, introduced by Dr. Medoff-Cooper in the mid-1980s and copyrighted in 1990, helps parents and health care providers identify difficult babies and what factors may trigger excessive crying or sleeplessness. The questionnaire was the first assessment scale suited to infants younger than four months old.The NeoNur, which Dr. Medoff-Cooper developed with Jay Zemel, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Engineering at Penn, and patented in 2013, is a feeding device used to assess newborn sucking strength, number of sucks, and pauses in sucking.
Dr. Medoff-Cooper concluded that these feeding behaviors correlate to brain development and can signal the risk of failure to thrive. The device helps health care professionals identify and treat infants with dysfunctional feeding patterns, a condition seen not only in premature infants but also in newborns with congenital heart defects.Dr. Medoff-Cooper’s most recent research focused on infants with heart problems. In a recent study funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research, she reported that feeding issues in three-month-old infants with congenital heart defects are associated with poor neurological development at six and 12 months. With funding from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Dr. Medoff-Cooper continues to follow infants with heart issues in a study that incorporates virtual home care via computers.
I practiced as a pediatric nurse practitioner for over 40 years.
Opportunities to Learn and Collaborate at Penn Nursing
In addition to teaching research methods to doctoral and masters students, Dr. Medoff-Cooper mentors undergraduates, pre- and post-doctoral students, and she includes undergraduates in her research teams. She served as director of both the Biobehavioral Research Center and the Center for Nursing Research at Penn Nursing.
Selected Career Highlights
- Member, International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame
- Outstanding Nurse Research Award, Council for the Advancement of Nursing Science
- Clinical Nurse Scholar and Faculty Nurse Scholar, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
- Director’s Lecturer, National Institute of Nursing Research
- Fellow, American Academy of Nursing
- NSF ICorps Fellow in innovation