Kennedy Mdaki, PhD
Kennedy Mdaki, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow; 2014-2016

Dr. Mdaki joined the Baack lab in the fall of 2014 bringing enthusiasm, insight and a deeper knowledge of the bioenergetic research being performed in the lab. Dr. Mdaki has mastered primary cardiomyocyte isolation/culture, Seahorse extracellular flux analyses, oxidative injury assays and mitochondrial staining/tracking in live cells to determine real time metabolic changes in exposed offspring at various stages of cardiac development. His hard work has gained several prestigious awards including an American Physiologic Society Physiologic Bioenergetics –From Bench to Bedside Minority Travel Fellowship Award in September, 2015 and an American Heart Association Basic Cardiovascular Science (BCVS) Minority Travel Award in November 2015. Dr. Mdaki’s work in the Baack Lab (2014-2016) was been presented at many local, regional and national scientific meetings. He continues to study the role of mitochondria in health and disease in the Shi Lab of the Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX.


Ruthellen Anderson
MD/PhD student; SSOM-USD 2017

Elle helped the lab develop a new method to quantify mitophagy and cell death in cardiomyocytes using an FCCP challenge and live confocal imaging. Her work was presented during a platform presentation at the Pediatric Academic Society (PAS) meeting in San Diego, May 7, 2017.



Kyle Sabey, DO
Pediatric Resident; 2016

Dr. Sabey helped the Baack Lab understand how mitochondrial dynamism plays a role in cardiac health during a Research Elective through the USD-SSOM in 2016. Kyle’s work was recognized with the Jack Metcoff Award for Outstanding Resident or Fellow Presentation at the Midwest Society for Pediatrics meeting, Chicago, IL on September 23, 2016


Kade Klippenstein
Medical Student; 2015-2016 

Kade works with the Baack Lab to characterize the effects of maternal diabetes and a high-fat diet on fetal kidney development through the Scholarly Pathways program at the USD-SSOM (2015-2018). He presented his findings during a platform presentation at the 2015 Midwest Society for Pediatric Research meeting in Kansas City, MO.




Stacy Kern, MDStacy Kern, MD
Pediatric Resident; 2014-2015 

Dr. Kern rotated through Baack lab for several Research Electives during her Pediatric Residency at USD-SSOM. During her time she helped characterize cardiac lipid transport and storage in the developing fetal heart. Her work was awarded a mentored USD-SSOM Faculty Grant in 2014-2015 and was nationally recognized by a 2015 SPR Resident Research Award at the Pediatric Academic Society meeting in San Diego, CA in 2015. Dr. Kern transitioned to a Neonatal and Perinatal Fellowship at the University of Iowa in July 2015. 


Kate Branick

Kate Branick
Medical Student: 2014-2016

Kate also came to work with Dr. Baack and Lynn Paul, NNP through the Scholarly Pathways Program at USD-SSOM. Together they demonstrated short term benefits and cost savings after implementing a Pasteurized Donor Human Milk program at the Boekelheide NICU of Sanford Health. She presented this work locally and at the 2015-2016 Pediatric Academic Society Meeting in San Diego, CA and Baltimore, MD.



Brian Juber, MD
Brian Juber, MD
Medical Student; 2013-2015

Dr. Juber began working with Dr. Baack on the Mother’s Milk DHA Study in 2013. His work helped launch the study to determine the effects of counseling on DHA intake and breast milk levels over time. He presented this work at the 2015 Pediatric Academic Society Meeting in San Diego, CA. Dr. Juber won the Sanford School of Medicine of the University of South Dakota’s Outstanding Pediatric Medical Student Award in May 2015 and will be transitioning to a pediatric residency at Northwestern University, Chicago, IL in July 2015. He hopes to pursue a career in Neonatology.


Kyrsten Johnson, MD
Kyrsten Johnson, MD
Resident; 2015-2015

Dr. Johnson worked with the Baack lab through the USD-SSOM Pediatric Residency program in 2015. She characterized important molecular pathways of interest from cardiac gene array data using Ingenuity Pathway Analysis. Her work was presented locally and at the 2015 Pediatric Academic Society in San Diego, CA. Kyrsten transitioned to the University of Minnesota in 2015 where she begins her Pediatric practice.



Michelle Schimelpfenig, DO, MPh
Resident; 2013-2014

Dr. Shimelpfenig worked in the Baack Lab in 2013-2014 during her pediatric residency at the Sanford School of Medicine of the University of South Dakota. She characterized lipid deposition in the hearts of diabetes or high-fat exposed offspring which contributed to a publication in the American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology (2016). She presented her work locally, regionally (2013 Midwest Society for Pediatric Research, Minneapolis, MN) and nationally (2014 PAS, Vancouver, BC). After completing her Pediatrics residency, Dr. Schimelpfenig transitioned to Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the USD-SSOM in 2014.


Lucinda Weaver
Medical Student; 2013-2014

Program in 2013 where she helped develop and optimize primary cardiomyocyte isolation and Seahorse extracellular flux analyses. Her work was highlighted locally and regionally in a platform presentation at the 2014 Midwest Society for Pediatric Research in Minneapolis, MN. This project laid the groundwork for important findings that were published in the American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology (2016) and Plos One (2016).



Sarah Cole
Pediatric Resident

Dr. Cole completed a research elective in the Baack lab during 2013-2014 where she studied the effects of a maternal high-fat diet, alone and alongside late gestation diabetes on the developing fetal liver. Her work was presented at the 2014 Pediatric Research Society meeting in VanCouver, BC. Dr. Cole transitioned to a Pediatric Gastroenterology Fellowship at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukie in 2014.


Genevieve Bern - SURE ScholarGenevieve Bern
SURE Scholar

Genevieve is an undergraduate student with the Sanford Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE), a health disparities program for American Indian undergraduates. An enrolled member of the Native Village of Afognak, a federally-recognized Aleut tribe, Genevieve is currently pursuing a pre-medicine education and Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN.

Within the Baack Laboratory, Genevieve conducted fatty acid analysis by direct transesterification of red blood cell samples in order to further delineate the effects of late gestation hyperglycemia and a maternal high fat diet on neonatal fatty acid levels.


Mimi Chau, BAMimi Chau, BA
RISE- UP Scholar

Mimi was born in Denver, Colorado and received her degree in Human Biology and Anthropology from Stanford University.  She joined the Baack lab through her participation in the RISE-UP program, a CDC sponsored summer externship for recent graduates designed to increase diversity in the maternal and child healthcare fields.  She was integral in the initiation of a new clinical trial in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Sanford Children’s Hospital titled, “Bridging the Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) Gap: The Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation in Premature Infants”.  She plans to attend medical school in the summer of 2013.






Angela Poster



Angela Wachal’s poster presentation entitled “Fetal exposure to maternal gestational diabetes and high fat diet causes lipid deposition in cardiac tissue” received first place in the “It’s All About Science Festival” at Sanford Health on August 28, 2012.

Genevieve Poster


Genevieve Bern took first place in the Sanford Summer Research Poster Symposium presenting her work in a poster presentation entitled “Late Gestation Hyperglycemia and Maternal Diet Affects Neonatal Fatty Acid Profiles.”




Mimi Chau successfully submitted an IRB application, trained pharmacists, nurses and nurse practitioners in the hospital about our upcoming clinical trial entitled “Bridging the Docosahexaenoic (DHA) Gap: The Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation in Premature Infants”. She also presented her work to the CDC in Atlanta, GA.

Danielle Poster


Danielle Jensen, a PROMISE student from the Vitiello Lab, won first place in the student division at the “It’s All About Science Festival” while presenting her poster entitled “The Maternal Effects of Gestational Diabetes and High Fat Diet on Fetal Lung Development”. This collaborative project between the two labs allows molecular based study of how lipids cause lung disease in offspring born to pregnancies affected by diabetes or high fat diet.