Thank you for your interest in the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Fellowship at Cleveland Clinic Children’s! As evidenced by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, pediatric infectious diseases physicians have never been more important, nor their duties more diverse. This pandemic has highlighted the wide array of career paths available to a pediatric infectious diseases specialist; everything from clinical care, disaster planning, infection prevention and control, antimicrobial and diagnostic stewardship, immunology, microbial pathogenesis, vaccine development, epidemiology and public health, public relations and social determinants of health. We need you to join this exciting profession and we are committed to helping you find your particular niche within it.

The above video was taken before the COVID-19 pandemic. We now follow protocols (including social distancing and masking) to protect our patients and caregivers.

Our 3-year ACGME accredited program provides well-rounded training in both clinical infectious diseases and research. Our goal is to train pediatricians to be outstanding infectious diseases clinicians who are prepared for a career in clinical infectious diseases, antimicrobial stewardship, infection control, transplantation or research (with a strong emphasis on academic medicine). The inpatient service is very busy and is supplemented with outpatient clinic. Cleveland Clinic Children’s is the only children’s hospital in Northeast Ohio that in addition to kidney and bone marrow, performs heart, liver, intestinal and multi visceral transplantation. 

Each fellow’s research experience is personalized to meet their individual career goals and interests. Opportunities include clinical projects (including infection prevention/quality improvement), basic science laboratory projects or both. Research opportunities are available within Cleveland Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute, as well as at other academic institutions throughout Cleveland. We help each fellow identify a mentor to guide their research project and ensure that by the end of their fellowship they gain expert knowledge in their selected area of interest. Our faculty includes microbiologists and our entire team is experienced and committed to the education of our fellows.

Cleveland is a fun and very affordable city to live in! It features a world class orchestra, international film festivals, a vibrant sports and restaurant scene, a ring of parks that encircle the city with walking/running trails and many other attractions.

We are excited to offer this truly unique opportunity for training in pediatric infectious diseases at Cleveland Clinic Children’s.

Blanca E. Gonzalez, MD
Pediatric Infectious Diseases Program Director



Kaitlyn Rivard, PharmD
Kaitlyn Rivard, PharmD

Additional Staff

  • Nazha Abughali, MD, Pediatric Infectious Diseases
  • Belinda Yen-Lieberman, PhD, Microbiology 

Nursing Support

  • Carla Saracusa, RN, Care Coordinator
  • Porsha St. Clair, LPN 
Application Process

Application Process

Eligible trainees must be graduates of the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACMGE) approved residency in the United States. Applications are only received through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) and positions filled through the National Residency Match Program (NRMP).

Interviews will be offered virtually starting the last week of September through October 2020.

For more information, please contact:

Laurie Staltari, Administrative Program Coordinator II

Alice Ewida, Administrative Program Coordinator II

Benefits & Resources

Benefits & Resources


  • 15 vacation days per year
  • 5 interview days in PGY5 and 6

Conference Attendance

Travel and logistical support is provided to the fellow for presentations at a regional or national meetings.


Please visit the Graduate Medical Education website for more information.

Additional Benefits

  • Medical, dental and vision insurance
  • Free on-site Pediatric Board Review course provided during your PGY4 year
  • Free iPhone for the duration of the fellowship
  • Moonlighting opportunities during PGY5 and 6
  • Greater Circle Living - $5000 forgivable loan grant
  • Cleveland Clinic discounts (dining, computers, cellphone carriers, and more!)
  • Free access to Cleveland Clinic fitness facilities (state-of-the art cardio and weight machines, Olympic-sized swimming pool, basketball courts, fitness classes)


Cleveland Clinic Children's, in partnership with Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, is a unique community with tremendous resources in career development, education, foundations of research, leadership and personal growth. Fellows gain access to many of these resources:

  • Case Western Reserve CRSP 401 Intro to Research Course (one month during PGY5)
  • Leadership and career development seminars through Cleveland Clinic Learning Academy
  • Quality and Patient Safety curriculum is covered throughout your fellowship, with a QI project completed prior to graduation.
  • Coursework in clinical research fundamentals at the Case Western Reserve University during your PGY5 year.
  • Available research support staff and mentors for consultation, through our research center and in conjunction with the Lerner Research Center.
  • Scholarly project: Under the guidance of faculty mentors, the fellow will complete a scholarly project during fellowship
  • Longitudinal educational series in ethics, professionalism and research with all pediatric fellows
  • Through our office of physician recruitment classes in job search, CV preparation, interviewing skills, and contract negotiations are available yearly


  • Six (6) modules inpatient consult service rotations
  • One (1) module in microbiology/parasitology laboratory
  • Outpatient Clinic: Once per week when not on inpatient service
  • Five (5) research modules
  • Call is 2 weekends per month when on the inpatient consult service and once a month all other modules


  • Three (3) modules of inpatient consult service
  • One (1) module adult inpatient transplant service
  • Eight (8) modules research including one (1) module at CWRU for the Clinical Research Course
  • Call Is one weekend per month (module) when not on inpatient service


  • Three (3) modules inpatient consult service
  • Nine (9) modules research
  • Elective: TB Clinic 
  • Call is one weekend per module when not on the inpatient service
Didactic Education & Resources

Didactic Education & Resources

  • Weekly Pediatric Infectious Diseases sign out: Fellows and faculty sign-out service and discuss management: one of the favorite sessions, and ensures excellent continuity of care of patients.
  • Weekly Fellows Didactic Session: Faculty and fellows present topics that cover the American Board of Pediatric Infectious Diseases core curriculum.
  • Weekly Transplant Lecture: Lectures are given by adult and pediatric infectious diseases faculty who are experts in transplant infectious diseases.
  • Weekly Joint Adult and Pediatric Case Conference: Fellows from both tracks present interesting cases with focused discussions of key concepts or controversies.
  • Weekly Microbiology Rounds at our State-of the Art Laboratory
  • Weekly Infectious Diseases Grand Rounds
  • Monthly Pediatric Citywide Conference: 1st Monday of the month.
  • Monthly Pediatric Infectious Disease Board Review: 2nd Tuesday of every month.
  • Monthly Research Conference and Journal Club: 3rd Tuesday of every month.
  • Pediatric Research Day: Held each May
  • Yearly Antimicrobial Stewardship Week: Led by our pharmacy specialist, one week a year is dedicated to learning principles and practices of antimicrobial stewardship. 







8-9 a.m.

Pediatric Citywide Conference (Quarterly)

Transplant Lectures

Infectious Disease Grand Rounds




1-2 p.m.

Pediatric Infectious Diseases Sign Out 




Microbiology Rounds

4:30-5:30 p.m.


Adult and Pediatric Infectious Diseases Conference

Pediatric Infectious Disease Core Curriculum/Journal Watch/Board Review





Current Fellows

Nicola O'Connor, MD 

Nicola O'Connor, MD - PGY6

"I have had the privilege of working with five outstanding and brilliant clinical staff, each of whom has a unique perspective on clinical practice. We have an abundance of patients with diverse clinical presentations and teams of caregivers who work effortlessly to provide the best healthcare to pediatric patients at our clinic. Due to the intriguing nature and complexity of cases seen in infectious diseases, I have learned to pay attention to details and to hone critical thinking skills while evaluating patients. The program is also unique in that our mentor will help you define future career goals and then customize a curriculum geared to these goals. l have a specific interest in infection prevention, STIs, and feto-maternal infections. My curriculum has been tailored to include participating in infection prevention meetings and attending adult HIV clinics; my current research will evaluate syphilis screening in pregnancy and the perinatal outcomes of infants born to infected mothers. I sincerely believe that anyone who successfully completes their fellowship at Cleveland Clinic will be well prepared for a career in pediatric infectious diseases."

Yamini Mandelia, MD 

Yamini Mandelia, MD - PGY6

"I am a third year fellow in Pediatric infectious Disease at Cleveland Clinic Children's. Originally from India, I came to the USA to gain more knowledge and a different perspective of medicine. Growing up, I saw a wide variety of tropical infections, which has always drawn me to learn more about infectious diseases. I completed my residency at Cleveland Clinic and rotated through the Pediatric ID Department for a 4-week elective. I had the pleasure to work with different staff during that time. All of them had one common goal: provide the best patient care and create a very open learning environment for the fellows, residents and medical students. Cleveland Clinic Children’s sees a wide variety of patients from all over the world. The ID team here works in parallel with different hospital teams and is involved in taking care of simple pediatric infections to infections in very complex transplant patients from different geographical backgrounds. This makes it a complete learning experience for the fellows as it prepares them to practice in any part of the world. The fellowship program is very flexible about taking into account fellows' professional needs and future goals in life. During my fellowship, I worked closely with Dr. Frank Esper for my fellowship research and he has been an excellent mentor and constant source of support and guidance; because of which, I have successfully presented and won awards in international meetings and published papers on respiratory viral disease and screening in renowned journals. I have also gained experience in basic science research and learnt new experiments. This program has played a huge part in shaping my career and research interests and if ever given the opportunity, I would choose this program for my training all over again. "


Heather Daniels, DO

Heather Daniels, DO 
Staff, Center for Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Cleveland Clinic Children's
2015-2018 Pediatric Infectious Diseases

"I am originally from Virginia and consider myself an East Coast native, but was so impressed by the congeniality of the staff and residents during my pediatric residency interview that I ranked Cleveland Clinic Children’s as my first choice. I completed both my pediatric residency and chief year here before staying for my Pediatric Infectious Diseases fellowship as I wanted a program that I know trained excellent clinicians. At Cleveland Clinic Children’s we see a wide range of patients from all over the world giving us experience with general pediatric infectious diseases as well as solid organ and bone marrow transplant. Our staff each have unique interests and are all a source of mentorship. During my first year I have gained valuable knowledge through weekly joint pediatric/adult case conferences and infectious diseases grand rounds; microbiology lab rotation; city-wide conferences with other children’s hospitals; outpatient clinic and our wealth of resources. Outside of work, Cleveland has been a great place to live with low cost of living, many neighborhoods, restaurants and cultural activities to enjoy."

Ritika Coelho, MD

Ritika Coelho, MD
2012-2015 Pediatric Infectious Diseases
2015-2016 Clinical Scholar in Quality and Safety

"Training at the Center for Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital is a very rewarding experience. We have the opportunity to work with staff with different clinical experiences and knowledge. This really helps us develop a strong foundation in infectious diseases and navigate through challenging situations. Coupled with excellent research opportunities and relevant didactics the program guides us well to grow academically. I had an interest in healthcare associated infections, and was channeled to meet with leaders in the field early in my fellowship. This gave me the opportunity to help in the development of a sustainable surveillance system for surgical site infections, which can also broadened for antimicrobial stewardship and national event reporting. The program went a step further and supported me for additional year as a chief fellow in quality and patient safety, where I also worked with national leaders to create a core curriculum and continued my research. It taught me to collaborate with stakeholders across the health care system to implement evidence-based practices, accelerate and amplify improvements in quality and safety for more than just pediatric patients. There is no doubt that whichever path a fellow chooses, the program will help accommodate their interests and support them all the way."

Victoria Nakimbugwe, MD 

Victoria Nakimbugwe, MD 
2014-2017 Pediatric Infectious Diseases

"The Pediatric Infectious Diseases program at Cleveland Clinic Children's appealed to me when I pursued a fellowship and the experience has been as expected. I have had the great honor of working closely with four clinical staff, each with unique perspective and style of practice. The success of collaboration is hinged on their shared drive to provide the best care to patients as well as openness to others’ ideas. I have always been given an open platform to share my thoughts on patients’ presentation and management and this room to grow and learn has been invaluable to my development as an Infectious Diseases specialist. My approach is validated when it is appropriate (even when different from my mentor on the day) but most importantly my misconceptions have been heard without censure and then carefully deconstructed and corrected when wrong – a clear service to the patients I will see with new perspective. We have an abundance of patients with diverse presentations and teams of caregivers of every cadre that work together. This collegial interplay with other providers and specialties further broadens the horizons for learning. One of the greatest strength of the program is its flexibility and outward looking approach to fellow research. Rather than fitting fellows into a traditional routine, the program seeks to understand long term career goals and, to every extent possible, nurtures those goals or helps to clarify them if unclear. When I presented my goal of returning to international work, the program went out of the way to foster this goal by seeking out collaborative mentors outside the hospital system. This collaboration has been invaluable to my career development allowing me to delve into an area that I may never have otherwise had the chance to explore but even more importantly, has already opened doors in my career that I could only have imagined. To call my experience here satisfying would be to grossly understate the fact. I would choose this experience again every time."

About Cleveland

About Cleveland

Located approximately 2 miles from the Cleveland Clinic campus, downtown Cleveland features a host of cultural and recreational attractions for an ethnically diverse mid-sized city. Many of Cleveland's neighborhoods such as Ohio City, Tremont, Lakewood, and Cedar-Fairmount are overflowing with cultural heritage, as well an eclectic offering of restaurants and nightlife.

Take advantage of all this beautiful city has to offer! Champion sports teams, culture, outdoor adventure, and a food scene that was recently ranked by TIME as #7 on their 20 'Best Food Cities' in America and is home to two James Beard award-winning restaurants. There really is something for everyone here in Cleveland.