Who We Are

Your Greatest Resource for Healthy Pregnancies

The Center for Better Beginning is one of North America’s foremost institutes for breakthrough research and education in maternal health and child development. Our team consists of world-renowned medical professionals and researchers who are at the top of their field and who are supported by a dedicated staff. Within UC San Diego’s Department of Pediatrics, our Center houses multiple programs that are actively generating research, disseminating knowledge, and engaging in public service. Healthy pregnancies and healthy babies are our priority and our passion.

Our Vision

To end preventable birth defects and other adverse pregnancy outcomes, and to improve pre- and postnatal outcomes for both the person who is pregnant and their baby.

Our Goal

To improve the health of all families through:

  • Innovative research that improves our knowledge of the causes of preventable birth defects and adverse pregnancy outcomes;
  • Clinical services that are state-of-the-art, comprehensive, and family-centered; and
  • Evidenced-based education that empowers the next generation of professionals and parents.

Learn More

  • History

    From Breaking Ground to Groundbreaking Discoveries

    When babies are born healthy, everyone thrives. The Center for Better Beginnings at UC San Diego has been organizing efforts since 1974 based on this vision of success. As a natural extension of the Department of Pediatrics, the Center’s history stems from early discoveries of how environmental factors can influence a baby’s development. Optimal prenatal care, the avoidance of harmful substances, and the prevention of illness in pregnancy requires improved healthcare and health practices, and we’re glad to be at the forefront of these activities through our illustrious past, groundbreaking present, and ambitious future.

    Learn more about these early discoveries and the many contributions made to the field by the esteemed Center for Better Beginnings team.

    Learn More

  • Leadership

    Experts Like No Other

    The Center for Better Beginnings leaders, Dr. Christina Chambers, Dr. Kenneth Lyons Jones, and Dr. Miguel del Campo, are involved in active clinical and epidemiological research programs at UC San Diego, and collaborate with scientists across the United States and internationally. They maintain a strong commitment to teaching at the undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral levels, and participate in many programs for trainees in the areas of pediatrics, dysmorphology, teratology, genetics, epidemiology, pharmacology and behavioral health. In addition, Dr. Jones sees patients at UCSD Pediatric Associates and Dr. del Campo at Rady Children’s Hospital FASD Clinic.

    Learn More

  • Publications & Funding

    Advancing the Margins of Knowledge

    At the heart of the Center for Better Beginnings is an active research program that helps improve and advance our understanding of the causes of preventable birth defects. Our partners in these efforts include other universities, government agencies, non-profit organizations, hospitals, health care providers, biomedical research institutions and pharmaceutical companies. Our work is getting noticed on campus, in the community and around the world.

    Learn More

  • Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee

    The Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee at the Center for Better Beginnings was established in October 2019. We support a team of faculty, staff and volunteers who are dedicated to reaching the goal of everyone having an equal opportunity to live healthier lives — no matter their background, socioeconomic status or current state of health.

    Statement of Purpose

    We are committed to leading efforts to build a more representative, equitable, and inclusive Center in order to strengthen the quality, relevance and impact of our research, programs and services.


    We seek to be respectful and compassionate with one another and our community.
    Initiating EDI conversations within our Center and the community we serve. Creating equitable and collaborative partnerships
    Fostering a space where people feel heard, accepted and valued. Creating a welcoming positive space.
    Growth & Improvement
    Constantly learning, staying open to change, supporting growth and removing barriers. Reviewing and informing policies and practices throughout our Center.

    Practice and encourage transparent communication within our Center and the community we serve.

    Unique Perspectives
    Appreciating and leveraging the diverse viewpoints and backgrounds of our Center members and clients. Recruiting, supporting and retaining diverse faculty, staff and clients.
    Quality Services
    Providing accessible, quality programs and services to our community.
    Evaluating and assessing progress towards our purpose statement and recognizing achievements and successes.

    Committee Members

    Amanda De Leon
    Ashleigh Blomfield Villarba, MA
    Ashley Swan
    Bianca Kermani
    Christina Chambers, PhD, MPH
    Cipactli Gutierrez
    Hiral Dave, MD, MAS
    Lillian Tureaud, MPH
    Lien Ha
    Martina Cotton
    Robert Felix


    Lillian Tureaud, MPH

    Lillian Tureaud, MPH
    Research and Program Administrator
    858.246.1743 | ltureaud@health.ucsd.edu

    Learn More