Dr. Ernst’s research interest is in neonatal nutrition in the areas of intestinal failure associated liver disease, essential fatty acid deficiency, and the use of alternative lipid products in the neonatal population. She is currently the site PI for the ECHO-ISPCTN Eating, Sleeping, and Consoling Study for Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome. She is also interested in the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence for quality improvement and clinical care.
MD: University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, Oklahoma City, OK
Pediatric Residency: University of Tennessee – Knoxville, Knoxville, TN
Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine Fellowship: University of Louisville & Kosair Children’s Hospital, Louisville, KY
MSMI (Master of Science in Medical Informatics): Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
NIH/NLM Fellowship in Biomedical Informatics: Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA
American Board of Pediatrics
Board of Preventative Medicine
-- Medical Informatics
Dr Ernst has published several articles in the last 15 years, specifically related to parenteral and enteral nutrition in extremely low birth weight infants. Her work is referenced in David Adamkin’s book, Nutritional Strategies for the Very Low Birthweight Infant. She is the Co-Chair of the NICU Nutritional Committee and helped develop the first standardized parenteral nutrition solution started at The Children’s Hospital at OU in 2005. In 2015, she helped to develop off-the-shelf parenteral solutions for improved safety, efficiency, and cost in the NICU. She provides annual nutrition training to the clinical nursing team dedicated to the treatment of extremely low birth weight infants. She is the Director of the NICU Intestinal Failure Team, an interprofessional team providing comprehensive care to children with complex gastrointestinal disorders as they transition from the inpatient setting to home. The program she developed has been shown to save over $100,000 per infant who are managed by this team. As part of this work, she was a co-awardee of an HCA grant that provided funds for family education manikins and training for a pediatric wound ostomy nurse, a position that has proven invaluable at The Children’s Hospital. Her previous work showed that lipid minimization with soybean lipid emulsions was associated with essential fatty acid deficiency and was not seen with the use of Omegaven. She provided data to the FDA to assist with the approval of the alternative lipid emulsions, SMOFlipid (2016) and Omegaven (2018). She was a member of the Academy of Pediatric Neonatal Resuscitation Program Committee and is one of the authors of the NRP Textbook (2016). She was one of two neonatologists that developed the e-SIM modules that are currently used as part of this international educational program. She has always been an advocate for quality care, and as a current member of the AAP’s Committee on Hospital Care, she recently published a clinical report to provide guidance to hospitals on the resources required to appropriately care for pediatric patients. Dr Ernst is a site Principal Investigator for the ECHO/NICHD/NIH IDeA States Pediatric Clinical Trials Network (ISPCTN), a network of 17 clinical sites. She has been responsible for the Advancing Clinical Trials in Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome (ACT NOW) studies, including a past observational study and a current study to assess the Eat, Sleep, Console method of management for infants experiencing opioid withdrawal. Some of her past work has also included neurodevelopmental outcomes after the use of fentanyl as well as methadone dosing strategies. Current projects include a collaboration with the University of Oklahoma – Norman campus – faculty and students in computer science and engineering to promote education in health care technology design and development for the neonatal population. This collaboration will lead to improved efficiency and outcomes for clinicians serving this population in addition to creating a unique educational experience for students at all degree levels.
Select Honors & Accomplishments:
2018 - USDA Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Nominee for American Academy of Pediatrics
2012 - Mid-Career Women Faculty Professional Development for Association of American Medical Colleges
2007 - NIH Biomedical Informatics Fellowship
2007 - Early Career Women Faculty Professional Development for Association of American Medical Colleges
2003 - Chairman’s Achievement Award for University of Louisville
- Ernst, KD. Clinical Report: Resources Recommended for the Care of Pediatric Patients in Hospitals. Pediatrics 2020 Apr;145(4):e20200204. Doi: 10.1542/peds.2020-0204. PMID: 32205465
- Lewis SL, Johnson JJ, Bergner EM, Miller JL, Bruster CN, Atchley CB, and Ernst KD. Infant essential fatty acid status is not associated with post-operative wound complication severity. J Surg Res (in press), Sept 2020.
- Ernst KD. Electronic alerts improve immunization rates in two-month-old premature infants hospitalized in the neonatal intensive care unit. Appl Clin Inform 2017;8(1):206-213. PMID: 28246672. PMC5373764.