Francis Sessions Cole, III, M.D.

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Professor of Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics
Executive Vice Chair, Department of Pediatrics
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Children's Health
Division Chief, Newborn Medicine
Park J. White, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics
Professor of Cell Biology and Physiology
Researcher, Pathobiology
Cell Biology & PhysiologySchool of MedicineAllergy, Immunology and Pulmonary MedicineNewborn Medicine


Clinical Interests

Genetic regulation of neonatal pulmonary surfactant deficiency has been suggested by studies of gender, genetic linkage, recurrent familial cases, targeted gene ablation in murine lineages, and by racial disparity in risk of neonatal respiratory distress syndrome. Successful fetal-neonatal pulmonary transition requires production of the pulmonary surfactant, a phospholipid-protein film that lines alveoli and maintains alveolar patency at end expiration. Our goal is to understand the genetic mechanisms that disrupt pulmonary surfactant metabolism and cause neonatal respiratory distress syndrome


  • BA, Amherst College1969
  • MD, Yale School of Medicine1973


  • Clinical Fellow in Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School1973 - 1974
  • Internship, Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School1973 - 1974
  • Residency, Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School1976 - 1978
  • Clinical Fellow in Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School1976 - 1978
  • Research Fellow in Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School1978 - 1980
  • Research Fellow, Neonatology and Cell Biology, the Joint Program in Neonatology, Brigham and Women's Hospital1978 - 1981

Licensure and Board Certification

  • 1973National Board of Medical Examiners, #134003
  • 1975MA
  • 1980American Board of Pediatrics #23915
  • 1983American Board of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine (#1141)
  • 1986MO


  • Alpha Omega Alpha, Yale University School of Medicine1973
  • M.D., cum laude, Yale University School of Medicine1973
  • 37th Annual Alpha Omega Alpha Lecturer, Washington University School of Medicine1990
  • Clinical Teacher of the Year Award, Washington University School of Medicine1993
  • Invited plenary session speaker, 14th European Congress of Perinatal Medicine, Helsinki, Finland1994
  • FDR Leadership Award from the March of Dimes (co-winner with Senator Christopher Bond, Senior Senator from Missouri)1997
  • Distinguished Faculty Award-Founder's Day, Washington University1997
  • Named the Park J. White, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics1998
  • Distinguished Service Teaching Award, Washington University School of Medicine Class of 20011998
  • Clinical Teaching Award, Washington University School of Medicine Class of 20001999
  • Torch of Youth Award, National Council on Youth Leadership1999
  • Cartíer First Aide Award, St. Louis Effort For AIDS2000
  • Washington University Nominee for the Pfizer Humanism in Medicine Award2003
  • Distinguished Service Teaching Award, Washington University School of Medicine, Class of 20072004
  • Washington University School of Medicine Distinguished Faculty Award Recipient for Distinguished Community Service2009
  • Princeton Award from the Princeton Club of St. Louis in recognition of outstanding leadership in service to the community2010
  • Washington University School of Medicine Samuel R. Goldstein Leadership Award in Medical Education2010
  • Distinguished Service Award from the Washington University Medical Center Alumni Association2013
  • Washington University School of Medicine 2nd Century Award2014
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award, Moses Brown School, Providence, Rhode Island2015
  • Founder's Award - Midwest Society for Pediatric Research (MWSPR)2016
  • 25th Anniversary Honorees, Heroes for Babies Award - March of Dimes2017
  • Distinguished Service Award, St. Louis Children’s Hospital Medical Staff2019

Recent Publications view all (128)

  1. De Novo Variants in WDR37 Are Associated with Epilepsy, Colobomas, Dysmorphism, Developmental Delay, Intellectual Disability, and Cerebellar Hypoplasia. Am J Hum Genet. 2019. PMID:31327508 
  2. Phenotype and response to growth hormone therapy in siblings with B4GALT7 deficiency. Bone. 2019;124:14-21. PMCID:PMC6551519  PMID:30914273 
  3. Magnetic Resonance Imaging characteristics in case of TOR1AIP1 muscular dystrophy. Clin Imaging. 2019;58:108-113. PMID:31299614 
  4. Lysosomal Storage and Albinism Due to Effects of a De Novo CLCN7 Variant on Lysosomal Acidification. Am J Hum Genet. 2019;104(6):1127-1138. PMCID:PMC6562152  PMID:31155284 
  5. Use of EHR-Based Pediatric Quality Measures: Views of Health System Leaders and Parents. Am J Med Qual. 2019;1062860619850322. PMID:31115254 
  6. Heterozygous variants in MYBPC1 are associated with an expanded neuromuscular phenotype beyond arthrogryposis. Hum Mutat. 2019. PMID:31264822 
  7. CemOrange2 fusions facilitate multifluorophore subcellular imaging in C. elegans. PLoS One. 2019;14(3):e0214257. PMCID:PMC6435234  PMID:30913273 
  8. Late onset neonatal acute kidney injury: results from the AWAKEN Study. Pediatr Res. 2019;85(3):339-348. PMCID:PMC6438709  PMID:30546043 
  9. Correction to: Acute kidney injury in neonatal encephalopathy: an evaluation of the AWAKEN database. Pediatr Nephrol. 2019;34(2):363. PMID:30315405 
  10. Optimizing the AKI definition during first postnatal week using Assessment of Worldwide Acute Kidney Injury Epidemiology in Neonates (AWAKEN) cohort. Pediatr Res. 2019;85(3):329-338. PMCID:PMC6377843  PMID:30643188 
  11. The impact of fluid balance on outcomes in critically ill near-term/term neonates: a report from the AWAKEN study group. Pediatr Res. 2019;85(1):79-85. PMID:30237572 
  12. The impact of fluid balance on outcomes in critically ill near-term/term neonates: a report from the AWAKEN study group. Pediatr Res. 2019;85(1):79-85. PMID:30237572 
  13. Bi-allelic POLR3A Loss-of-Function Variants Cause Autosomal-Recessive Wiedemann-Rautenstrauch Syndrome. Am J Hum Genet. 2018;103(6):968-975. PMCID:PMC6288318  PMID:30414627 
  14. Functional characterization of biallelic RTTN variants identified in an infant with microcephaly, simplified gyral pattern, pontocerebellar hypoplasia, and seizures. Pediatr Res. 2018;84(3):435-441. PMCID:PMC6258334  PMID:29967526 
  15. Mutations in the thyroid transcription factor gene NKX2-1 result in decreased expression of SFTPB and SFTPC. Pediatr Res. 2018;84(3):419-425. PMCID:PMC6599453  PMID:29538355 
  16. Incidence of neonatal hypertension from a large multicenter study [Assessment of Worldwide Acute Kidney Injury Epidemiology in Neonates-AWAKEN]. Pediatr Res. 2018;84(2):279-289. PMID:29795211 
  17. Neonatal Outcomes Differ after Spontaneous and Indicated Preterm Birth. Am J Perinatol. 2018;35(5):494-502. PMID:29183099 
  18. Functional Assays to Screen and Dissect Genomic Hits: Doubling Down on the National Investment in Genomic Research. Circ Genom Precis Med. 2018;11(4):e002178. PMCID:PMC5901889  PMID:29654098 
  19. Infants with Atypical Presentations of Alveolar Capillary Dysplasia with Misalignment of the Pulmonary Veins Who Underwent Bilateral Lung Transplantation. J Pediatr. 2018;194:158-164.e1. PMCID:PMC5826830  PMID:29198536 
  20. Survival among children with "Lethal" congenital contracture syndrome 11 caused by novel mutations in the gliomedin gene (GLDN). Hum Mutat. 2017;38(11):1477-1484. PMCID:PMC5638693  PMID:28726266 
  21. Differentiation of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells into Functional Lung Alveolar Epithelial Cells. Cell Stem Cell. 2017;21(4):472-488.e10. PMCID:PMC5755620  PMID:28965766 
  22. The Genomics of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. Front Pediatr. 2017;5:176. PMCID:PMC5572235  PMID:28879171 
  23. Integrating Research, Quality Improvement, and Medical Education for Better Handoffs and Safer Care: Disseminating, Adapting, and Implementing the I-PASS Program. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2017;43(7):319-329. PMID:28648217 
  24. Resident Experiences With Implementation of the I-PASS Handoff Bundle. J Grad Med Educ. 2017;9(3):313-320. PMCID:PMC5476380  PMID:28638509 
  25. Outcomes of Lung Transplantation for Infants and Children with Genetic Disorders of Surfactant Metabolism. J Pediatr. 2017;184:157-164.e2. PMCID:PMC5443678  PMID:28215425 
  26. Families as Partners in Hospital Error and Adverse Event Surveillance. JAMA Pediatr. 2017;171(4):372-381. PMID:28241211 
  27. Functional Characterization of ATP-Binding Cassette Transporter A3 Mutations from Infants with Respiratory Distress Syndrome. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2016;55(5):716-721. PMCID:PMC5105181  PMID:27374344 
  28. ALG1-CDG: Clinical and Molecular Characterization of 39 Unreported Patients. Hum Mutat. 2016;37(7):653-60. PMCID:PMC4907823  PMID:26931382 
  29. Genetic Factors Contribute to Risk for Neonatal Respiratory Distress Syndrome among Moderately Preterm, Late Preterm, and Term Infants. J Pediatr. 2016;172:69-74.e2. PMCID:PMC4876036  PMID:26935785 
  30. Population-based frequency of surfactant dysfunction mutations in a native Chinese cohort. World J Pediatr. 2016;12(2):190-5. PMID:26547207 
  31. Respiratory failure in a term infant with cis and trans mutations in ABCA3. J Perinatol. 2015;35(3):231-2. doi:10.1038/jp.2014.236  PMCID:PMC4341920  PMID:25712598 
  32. Minoxidil-associated anorexia in an infant with refractory hypertension. Pharmacotherapy. 2014;34(12):e341-4. doi:10.1002/phar.1495  PMID:25280267 
  33. Changes in medical errors after implementation of a handoff program. N Engl J Med. 2014;371(19):1803-12. doi:10.1056/NEJMsa1405556  PMID:25372088 
  34. Two deletions overlapping a distant FOXF1 enhancer unravel the role of lncRNA LINC01081 in etiology of alveolar capillary dysplasia with misalignment of pulmonary veins. Am J Med Genet A. 2014;164A(8):2013-9. doi:10.1002/ajmg.a.36606  PMCID:PMC4107046  PMID:24842713 
  35. Genotype-phenotype correlations for infants and children with ABCA3 deficiency. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2014;189(12):1538-43. doi:10.1164/rccm.201402-0342OC  PMCID:PMC4226019  PMID:24871971 
  36. Synonymous ABCA3 variants do not increase risk for neonatal respiratory distress syndrome. J Pediatr. 2014;164(6):1316-1321.e3. doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2014.02.021  PMCID:PMC4035386  PMID:24657120 
  37. Development, implementation, and dissemination of the I-PASS handoff curriculum: A multisite educational intervention to improve patient handoffs. Acad Med. 2014;89(6):876-84. doi:10.1097/ACM.0000000000000264  PMID:24871238 
  38. Genetic variation in MKL2 and decreased downstream PCTAIRE1 expression in extreme, fatal primary human microcephaly. Clin Genet. 2014;85(5):423-32. doi:10.1111/cge.12197  PMCID:PMC3929543  PMID:23692340 
  39. Placing faculty development front and center in a multisite educational initiative: lessons from the I-PASS Handoff study. Acad Pediatr. 2014;14(3):221-4. doi:10.1016/j.acap.2014.02.013  PMID:24767774 
  40. Sequencing of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis-related genes reveals independent single gene associations. BMJ Open Respir Res. 2014;1(1):e000057. doi:10.1136/bmjresp-2014-000057  PMCID:PMC4265083  PMID:25553246 
  41. Rare recessive loss-of-function methionyl-tRNA synthetase mutations presenting as a multi-organ phenotype. BMC Med Genet. 2013;14(1):106. doi:10.1186/1471-2350-14-106  PMID:24103465 
  42. Heterogeneous pulmonary phenotypes associated with mutations in the thyroid transcription factor gene NKX2-1. Chest. 2013;144(3):794-804. doi:10.1378/chest.12-2502  PMCID:PMC3760742  PMID:23430038 
  43. Novel FOXF1 mutations in sporadic and familial cases of alveolar capillary dysplasia with misaligned pulmonary veins imply a role for its DNA binding domain. Hum Mutat. 2013;34(6):801-11. doi:10.1002/humu.22313  PMCID:PMC3663886  PMID:23505205 
  44. Congenital lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus: when to consider the diagnosis. J Child Neurol. 2013;29(6):837-842. doi:10.1177/0883073813486295  PMCID:PMC3972356  PMID:23666045 
  45. Duplication of 20p12.3 associated with familial Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. Am J Med Genet A. 2013;161A(1):137-44. doi:10.1002/ajmg.a.35701  PMID:23239491 
  46. Single ABCA3 mutations increase risk for neonatal respiratory distress syndrome. Pediatrics. 2012;130(6):e1575-82. doi:10.1542/peds.2012-0918  PMCID:PMC3507255  PMID:23166334 
  47. Increased risk for respiratory distress among white, male, late preterm and term infants. J Perinatol. 2012;32(10):780-5. doi:10.1038/jp.2011.191  PMCID:PMC3461404  PMID:22222548 
  48. An intronic ABCA3 mutation that is responsible for respiratory disease. Pediatr Res. 2012;71(6):633-7. doi:10.1038/pr.2012.21  PMID:22337229 
  49. A method to determine the kinetics of multiple proteins in human infants with respiratory distress syndrome. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2012;403(8):2397-402. doi:10.1007/s00216-012-5953-3  PMID:22526637 
  50. I-pass, a mnemonic to standardize verbal handoffs. Pediatrics. 2012;129(2):201-4. doi:10.1542/peds.2011-2966  PMID:22232313 
  51. Establishing a multisite education and research project requires leadership, expertise, collaboration, and an important aim. Pediatrics. 2010;126(4):619-22. doi:10.1542/peds.2010-1793  PMID:20876168 
  52. Surfactant protein-C promoter variants associated with neonatal respiratory distress syndrome reduce transcription. Pediatr Res. 2010;68(3):216-20. doi:10.1203/PDR.0b013e3181eb5d68  PMCID:PMC2921462  PMID:20539253 
  53. Measurement of human surfactant protein-B turnover in vivo from tracheal aspirates using targeted proteomics. Anal Chem. 2010;82(6):2561-7. doi:10.1021/ac1001433  PMCID:PMC2843406  PMID:20178338 
  54. Inherited surfactant deficiency caused by uniparental disomy of rare mutations in the surfactant protein-B and ATP binding cassette, subfamily a, member 3 genes. J Pediatr. 2009;155(6):854-859.e1. doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2009.06.006  PMCID:PMC2794197  PMID:19647838 
  55. Quantification of rare allelic variants from pooled genomic DNA. Nat Methods. 2009;6(4):263-5. doi:10.1038/nmeth.1307  PMCID:PMC2776647  PMID:19252504 
  56. Developmental and genetic regulation of human surfactant protein B in vivo. Neonatology. 2009;95(2):117-24. doi:10.1159/000153095  PMCID:PMC2765709  PMID:18776725 
  57. Population and disease-based prevalence of the common mutations associated with surfactant deficiency. Pediatr Res. 2008;63(6):645-9. doi:10.1203/PDR.0b013e31816fdbeb  PMCID:PMC2765719  PMID:18317237 
  58. Recombination as a mechanism for sporadic mutation in the surfactant protein-C gene. Pediatr Pulmonol. 2008;43(5):443-50. doi:10.1002/ppul.20782  PMCID:PMC2765708  PMID:18383112 
  59. Comprehensive genetic variant discovery in the surfactant protein B gene. Pediatr Res. 2007;62(2):170-5. doi:10.1203/PDR.0b013e3180a03232  PMCID:PMC2765713  PMID:17597650 
  60. A major deletion in the surfactant protein-B gene causing lethal respiratory distress. Acta Paediatr. 2007;96(4):516-20. doi:10.1111/j.1651-2227.2006.00188.x  PMID:17391469 
  61. Racial disparity in the frequency of recurrence of preterm birth. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2007;196(2):131.e1-6. doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2006.06.093  PMID:17306652 
  62. Novel mutations in the gene encoding ATP binding cassette protein member A3 (ABCA3) resulting in fatal neonatal lung disease. Acta Paediatr. 2007;96(2):185-90. PMID:17429902 
  63. Genetic disorders of surfactant proteins. Neonatology. 2007;91(4):311-7. doi:10.1159/000101347  PMID:17575475 
  64. Defects in surfactant synthesis: clinical implications. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2006;53(5):911-27, ix. doi:10.1016/j.pcl.2006.08.006  PMID:17027617 
  65. Long-term outcomes after infant lung transplantation for surfactant protein B deficiency related to other causes of respiratory failure. J Pediatr. 2006;149(4):548-53. doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2006.06.004  PMID:17011330 
  66. Genetic variant characterization in intron 4 of the surfactant protein B gene. Hum Mutat. 2005;26(5):494-5. doi:10.1002/humu.9378  PMID:16211553 
  67. Informed consent for genetic research. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2004;158(6):551-5. doi:10.1001/archpedi.158.6.551  PMID:15184218 
  68. Surfactant protein B: unambiguously necessary for adult pulmonary function. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2003;285(3):L540-2. doi:10.1152/ajplung.00111.2003  PMID:12902317 
  69. Mutational profiling in the human genome. Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol. 2003;68:23-9. PMID:15338599 
  70. Population-based screening for rare mutations: high-throughput DNA extraction and molecular amplification from Guthrie cards. Pediatr Res. 2001;50(5):666-8. doi:10.1203/00006450-200111000-00021  PMID:11641464 
  71. Genetic disorders of neonatal respiratory function. Pediatr Res. 2001;50(2):157-62. doi:10.1203/00006450-200108000-00001  PMID:11477198 
  72. Alveolar capillary dysplasia with misalignment of pulmonary veins and anterior segment dysgenesis of the eye: a report of a new association and review of the literature. J Perinatol. 2001;21(5):327-30. doi:10.1038/  PMID:11536028 
  73. Population-based estimates of surfactant protein B deficiency. Pediatrics. 2000;105(3 Pt 1):538-41. PMID:10699106 
  74. Hyaline membrane disease is underreported in a linked birth-infant death certificate database. Am J Public Health. 1998;88(9):1387-9. PMCID:PMC1509088  PMID:9736884 
  75. Risk status at discharge and cause of death for postneonatal infant deaths: a total population study. Pediatrics. 1997;99(3):338-44. PMID:9041284 
  76. Antenatal steroids and intraventricular hemorrhage after premature rupture of membranes at 24-28 weeks' gestation. Am J Perinatol. 1997;14(3):171-6. doi:10.1055/s-2007-994121  PMID:9259922 
  77. Lung transplantation for treatment of infants with surfactant protein B deficiency. J Pediatr. 1997;130(2):231-9. PMID:9042125 
  78. The influence of the wider use of surfactant therapy on neonatal mortality among blacks and whites. N Engl J Med. 1996;334(25):1635-40. doi:10.1056/NEJM199606203342504  PMID:8628359 
  79. Phenylalanine hydroxylase activity in preterm infants: is tyrosine a conditionally essential amino acid? Am J Clin Nutr. 1995;61(6):1218-23. PMID:7762520 
  80. School-based AIDS education for adolescents. J Adolesc Health. 1995;16(4):309-15. PMID:7612637 
  81. Umbilical cord ulceration as a cause of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy: report of a case and review of the literature. J Perinatol. 1995;15(5):423-5. PMID:8576764