Press Releases

Midwest Fetal Care Center Recruits One of the Nation’s Top Genetic Therapy Researchers

Joseph Lillegard, MD, PhD, Joins Midwest Fetal Care Center as Research Director and Pediatric Surgeon

Dr. Joseph Lillegard, Midwest Fetal Care Center

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Jan. 20, 2016 – The Midwest Fetal Care Center announced today the addition of Joseph Lillegard, MD, PhD, as research director and pediatric surgeon. One of his primary interests will be to help advance Midwest Fetal Care Center’s plans to launch its open fetal surgery program, a progression that the center has been working towards diligently for many years. Dr. Lillegard also leads a gene therapy research lab at Mayo Clinic, in collaboration with Children’s Minnesota, to address gene therapy and gene correction options for kids with metabolic liver diseases.

Dr. Lillegard’s gene therapy research adds to an impressive roster of experts that are elevating advancements in caring for fetal abnormalities or conditions in a baby before birth for families in Minnesota and beyond. “Dr. Lillegard brings research strength to our program that will propel the Midwest Fetal Care Center onto a more prominent stage,” said Brad Feltis, MD, PhD, Midwest Fetal Care Center surgical director. “In the next five to 10 years, we’ll be able to advance to even more complex in-utero surgeries while expanding peer-reviewed data to improve outcomes for babies around the world.”

Since joining the Midwest Fetal Care Center in July 2015 in the research director role, Dr. Lillegard has focused on ex-vivo and in-utero cell and gene therapy strategies related to inborn errors of metabolism of the liver. In addition to specializing in pediatric surgery and pediatric-related liver disease, including metabolic liver problems in newborns, Dr. Lillegard performs operative fetoscopy and is helping to launch the center’s open fetal surgery program.

Dr. Lillegard attended the University of Nevada School of Medicine, where he received his medical degree, as well as a PhD in cell and molecular biology. He completed his surgical residency at the Mayo Medical Center, where he also served as an American Society of Transplant Surgery research fellow and instructor of surgery. He completed a postdoctoral research fellowship, clinical investigator and training program at Mayo Clinic. He completed his pediatric surgery fellowship at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He is also board-certified in general surgery from the American Board of Surgery.

The Midwest Fetal Care Center is a collaboration between Abbott Northwestern Hospital and Children’s Minnesota, providing expert care services to expecting mothers and families when an abnormality or condition is identified in a baby before birth. It’s the first and largest advanced fetal care program in the Upper Midwest and a national leader in fetal care, with a wide range of specialists, comprehensive concierge care model and a proven track record of positive outcomes.

About Children’s Minnesota
Children’s Minnesota is one of the largest pediatric health systems in the United States and the only health system in Minnesota to provide care exclusively to children, from before birth through young adulthood. An independent and not-for-profit system since 1924, Children’s Minnesota serves kids throughout the Upper Midwest at two free-standing hospitals, 12 primary and specialty-care clinics and six rehabilitation sites. Children’s Minnesota maintains its longstanding commitment to the community to improve children’s health by providing high-quality, family-centered pediatric services and advancing those efforts through research and education. This work is made possible in large part by generous philanthropic and volunteer support from individuals and organizations throughout the state and region. An award-winning health system, Children’s Minnesota is regularly ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a top children’s hospital. Please visit

About Allina Health and Abbott Northwestern Hospital
Allina Health is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. A not-for-profit health care system, Allina Health cares for patients from beginning to end-of-life through its 90+ clinics, 13 hospitals, 16 retail pharmacies, specialty care centers and specialty medical services, home care, senior transitions, hospice care, home oxygen and medical equipment and emergency medical transportation services. For more information about Allina Health, visit our website at and join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Abbott Northwestern is part of Allina Health. In addition to retaining its first place ranking for the best hospital in the Twin Cities and second in the State of Minnesota in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2014-15 best hospital rankings, Abbott Northwestern Hospital has received nursing magnet certification, a recognition earned by only five percent of hospitals nationwide.  The perinatal, obstetric and newborn operations of Abbott Northwestern Hospital are located in The Mother Baby Center, with over 5,400 annual deliveries.  This 68-bed, low-risk to high risk obstetric center is co-located next to Children’s Minnesota three neonatal units in Minneapolis for optimal maternal, fetal, newborn and neonatal care.