Maria Mascarenhas, MBBS

NASPGHAN Celebrates Maria Mascarenhas, MBBS

To recognize Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, NASPGHAN would like to highlight Dr. Maria Mascarenhas, a Pediatric Gastroenterologist, Nutrition and Integrative Medicine expert.  Maria was born in Bangalore, India. After finishing medical school at St John’s Medical College, Bangalore, India, she moved to the US for a pediatric internship at Downstate Medical Center and residency at Texas Children’s Hospital. Her fellowship in pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition was at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) where she has stayed her entire career barring 2 years at RWJ University Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ. She has enjoyed a very rewarding career in Nutrition, Gastroenterology and Integrative Medicine and is one of an elite group of pediatricians board-certified in pediatrics, nutrition and pediatric gastroenterology and board eligible in integrative medicine. She loves learning and has additional training in pediatric massage, ayurvedic nutrition, auricular acupressure, biofeedback and clinical hypnosis. Her passion for program development is seen in her work at CHOP where she created and advanced several nutrition focused and innovative programs in the division and hospital. She single-handedly developed the comprehensive Integrative Health Program at CHOP; nationally recognized and considered a model in the field. Dr. Mascarenhas is widely published. A recent publication, “Anti-Inflammatory Family Cookbook”, is getting rave reviews from pediatricians, registered dietitians and families. Above all, she believes one has to give back to the world what one has received and works tirelessly to support physicians, patients and colleagues. She is now working to bring wellness education to the underserved. She acknowledges that none of this would have been possible without the support of her incredible family in India and the US and support of her friends, colleagues and mentors. She thanks NASPGHAN for the opportunities it has made available to her.

Current position and institution: Medical Director, Integrative Health Program and Department of Clinical Nutrition, Section Chief, Division of GI, Hepatology and Nutrition, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Professor of Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

Hometown: Bangalore, India

Favorite GI disease: I do not have a favorite GI disease, but I love taking care of patients with cystic fibrosis, 22q deletion syndrome and approach all patients using an integrative medicine lens.

Hobbies: I love gardening, meditation, travelling and playing with my dogs Charlie and Sulley. I also enjoy going to the theater.

Favorite Vacation Spot: I do not have favorite vacation spot and have lovely memories of Chile, Argentina, Jordan, Ireland, Italy, India, Sri Lanka, China, Laos, Cambodia, Canada and Vietnam. There are still quite a few more countries on my bucket list.

Favorite Activist: I do not have a favorite activist, but admire people like Mother Teresa, Michelle Obama, Malala Yousafzai, Greta Thunberg and my 3 maternal aunts: all strong, talented women with a purpose in life.

Book You Recommend: Harry Potter series, especially the audio series.

Best Career Advice You’ve Received: I have received a lot of great advice through my career, but 2 bits of advice come to mind. One is from David Piccoli who always tells me “Do in life what brings you joy”, especially when I go to him with career questions.  As some of you may know, I have a severe case of imposter syndrome that is yet to be cured! I remember a colleague many years ago told me to repeat this mantra whenever I went for an interview: “I am good, very good and they will be lucky if I take their job.”. It helped me and I am still using it in different situations now. I pass this advice on in a different way now and tell my mentees to “walk tall”.

If you have people you’d like to see highlighted for future months, please nominate them by sharing their name and contact information with Eyad and Faith.  They can be any full member of NASPGHAN, CPNP, or APGNN (attendings, RDs, APNs, RNs, PAs). 

Faith Ihekweazu:
Eyad Hanna (He/They):

February: Black History Month

March: National Women’s History Month // Irish American Heritage Month
April: Arab American Heritage Month
May: Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month
June: PRIDE month
September: National Hispanic-Latine/x Heritage Month (Sept 15 to Oct 15) // Women in Medicine Month
October: National Italian American Heritage Month // National Disability Employment Awareness Month
November: National American Indian Heritage Month



The Association of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition Nurses
Help & Hope for Children with Digestive Disorders
Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition
JPGN Reports