Cindy Ortinau, MD
Cindy Ortinau is a St. Louis native who spent the first part of her childhood living in St. Louis City. Her family then moved to the suburb of Oakville where she attended Oakville Senior High School (yes, I know you fellow St. Louis natives were going to ask!). Cindy comes from a very large family and the majority of her relatives still live in St. Louis. So, if you know any Ortinau’s in the area, she is almost definitively related to them. Cindy’s father works as an electrician at Ameren and her mother works in retail. She is the oldest of four siblings. She has a brother who owns his own graphic design business and lives in Ohio with his wife and newborn twins, another brother who works in finance and lives in St. Louis with his wife and two sons who are five- and two-years-old, and a sister who is a postdoctoral student at Baylor.
Cindy was extraordinarily shy as a child and was always the “quiet one” in her classes. However, at home she was known to be quite bossy amongst her three younger siblings. Her parents will also tell you that she was a very active child who enjoyed jumping and flipping on the couch, which prompted them to put her in gymnastic classes. She fell in love with the sport, and although she competed throughout her childhood, she proved to be a much better coach than gymnast. She began coaching competitive gymnastics in high school and continued to do so throughout college/medical school. Cindy will tell you that if she had to choose any other career outside of medicine, she would definitely go back to coaching.
After high school, Cindy moved across the state to Kansas City, where she completed a 6-year combined BA/MD program at the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Medicine. She returned home to St. Louis for Pediatric Residency and Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine Fellowship here at Washington University/St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Throughout her medical training, she always thought of herself as a clinician and never considered the possibility of a research career. In fact, she actually dreaded completing the research portion of her fellowship. After seeking advice from many faculty members, she chose a mentor and a laboratory that would allow her to focus her fellowship research project on two clinical topics she was passionate about, congenital heart disease and neurological outcomes. Much to her surprise, she discovered a love for clinical research and quickly realized the importance of translating clinical questions into research questions to inform/change clinical practice. During this time, she also discovered another love, her husband Christopher McPherson, a clinical neonatal pharmacist here at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
After her fellowship, Cindy decided to do something she never thought she would – pursue a career as a clinical investigator. She has focused her research efforts on the application of magnetic resonance imaging to understand brain injury and brain development in the congenital heart disease population. In 2014, her and her husband moved to Boston where she joined the faculty at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and chose to shift her focus to fetal brain development in the cardiac population. While she formed invaluable collaborations and learned a ton about fetal imaging during her time in Boston, she was thrilled to be recruited back to Washington University this past September and once again call St. Louis home. Since rejoining the faculty, she has continued her existing collaborations on multi-site imaging studies with colleagues in New Zealand and Boston and is excited to be started a new fetal magnetic resonance imaging study here at Washington University. She is also thrilled to be a part of the newborn medicine faculty during a time when the neonatal intensive care unit is expanding and to have the privilege to work with extraordinary and wonderful colleagues in her Division. And, of course, she is ecstatic to live in Cardinals Nation again! When Cindy is not working on her research or in the NICU, she enjoys cooking, running/hiking, yoga, and reading.