Leadership

  • Dr. Kenneth Lyons Jones, MD

    Dr. Kenneth Lyons Jones is the Chief of the Division of Dysmorphology & Teratology at the Department of Pediatrics at UCSD, Medical Director of the MotherToBaby California Pregnancy Health Information Line, and co-Director of the Center for Better Beginnings. He is a pediatrician by training, specializing in the identification and treatment of birth defects. He is actively involved in research, teaching, clinical work, and University and public service. He is considered the leading expert of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), as he was one of two doctors at the University of Washington who first identified FAS in the United States in 1973.

    Dr. Jones’ research has focused on the evaluation and diagnosis of birth defects, identifying the mechanisms of normal and abnormal fetal development, and the recognition of new environmental agents that cause birth defects. His work on the recognition of new human teratogens is primarily focused through MotherToBaby California, a counseling and research program funded in part by the State of California and monies received from the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS) as part of a cooperative agreement with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

    Dr. Jones has authored over 400 publications in scientific journals as well as several books, and is the author of the textbook titled Smith’s Recognizable Patterns of Human Malformation.


  • Dr. Christina D. Chambers, PhD, MPH

    Dr. Chambers is a Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, and Family and Preventative Medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, and co-Director of the Center for Better Beginnings. She is also Clinical Professor in the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at UCSD, Vice Chair of Clinical Research in the UCSD Department of Pediatrics, Director of the UCSD CTRI Center for Life Course Research, and Director of Clinical Research at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego.

    Dr. Chambers is a perinatal epidemiologist specializing in the area of environmental causes of adverse pregnancy outcomes, birth defects, and childhood disabilities, with a special focus on human teratogens (environmental agents that cause birth defects or other adverse prenatal outcomes). She is currently conducting research on the prevention of alcohol related birth defects, the safety in pregnancy of several new medications used for the treatment of maternal health conditions, and the safety of vaccines during pregnancy. Dr. Chambers serves as an advisor to national and international organizations such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO).


Academic Faculty

  • Dr. Miguel del Campo, MD, PhD

    Dr. Miguel del Campo is an Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. Dr. del Campo cares for patients with dysmorphologic, genetic, and teratologic conditions at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego and conducts clinical research projects in the Center for Better Beginnings at UCSD. His research interests include: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), limb defects and HOX signaling pathways, Williams syndrome, Autism, prenatal diagnosis through comparative genomic hybridization (CGH), Marfan syndrome and other connective tissue disorders.

    Dr. del Campo developed and implemented the first Telegenetics consultation service and research program at the Pompeu Fabra University in Spain and from 2002 to 2009 he coordinated Orphanet Spain funded by the European Commission and is currently Director of its Scientific Committee. He brings international acclaim to the Center and is fluent in Spanish, Catalan, English and French, as well as proficient in Italian and Portuguese.


  • Kristin Palmsten, ScD

    Dr. Palmsten is an Assistant Project Scientist in the Center for Better Beginnings at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Palmsten earned her Doctor of Science in 2013 from the Harvard School of Public Health; her training focused on pharmacoepidemiology, perinatal epidemiology, and epidemiologic methods. Dr. Palmsten is a recipient of a K99 Pathway to Independence Career Development Award from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and in 2015 she was awarded the UCSD Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Scholar Award. The Society for Epidemiologic Research awarded Dr. Palmsten the 2013 Abraham Lilienfeld Student Prize, which recognizes excellence in student research.

    Dr. Palmsten has published 24 articles in peer-reviewed journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, BMJ, Epidemiology, and Nature, and has presented research findings at national and international conferences. Dr. Palmsten’s career objective is to apply epidemiologic methods to solve real-world medication safety questions. She is particularly interested in medication safety in pregnancy.


  • Diana Simmes, MPH

    Diana Simmes is Academic Coordinator of the Institute for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Discovery (IFASDD) at the Center for Better Beginnings at UC San Diego. She serves as Secretary on the Executive Board for Southern California affiliate of the National Organization of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. She received her MPH from the Boston University School of Public Health with a concentration in Health Law.

    Ms. Simmes coordinates and provides fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) trainings throughout California, facilitates a monthly FASD parent support group, oversees FASD community outreach and education, and coordinates support services and referrals for children seen in the FASD clinic at UCSD/Rady Children’s Hospital.