Sonika Bhatnagar, MD, MPH

  • Associate Professor of Pediatrics

Sonika Bhatnagar has 13 years of clinical research experience on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the most frequently occurring pediatric conditions, including acute otitis media, urinary tract infections, sinusitis, pneumonia, and asthma in an effort to address broader public health issues, such as prevention of illness, development of antimicrobial resistance, reduction of health care expenditures, and impact on quality of life. She was appointed to serve on the Steering Committee of two multicenter NIDDK-sponsored clinical trials, RIVUR and CUTIE. The RIVUR trial was recognized by the Clinical Research Forum Clinical Research Achievement Award in 2015. Dr. Bhatnagar’s role in general pediatrics research expanded to analyze strategies to increase recruitment of children in randomized, controlled trials. She was recruited to serve as a physician consultant for the multicenter RIVUR trial to design and implement interventions aimed at enhancing recruitment and participation in the trial. The results of this work have been published and presented nationally. Dr. Bhatnagar served as co-chair of the multidisciplinary committee to develop the Center for Excellence in Child and Adolescent Health Research at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine CTSI and UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. This is the first such all-encompassing academic tool for local, regional, and national use for clinical researchers, health care providers, families and caregivers, teens and emerging young adults, and the community in general. She created an Academic Toolkit for Clinical Researchers, available online through the center and incorporated the curriculum into the Institute for Clinical Research Education Special Topics in Clinical Trials Course at the University of Pittsburgh


Dr. Bhatnagar also studies prevention of disease and injury. On a local level, she has served as one of two Children’s Hospital physician contributors to the Allegheny County Child Death Review Team. She contributed to the systematic review of child deaths, identification of preventable contributing factors, and the creation of a public health model of prevention of child fatality that stresses the roles of legislation and public education. With the Child Advocacy Center and the Division of Adolescent Medicine, she created a public health and advocacy continuity clinic curriculum module. On a state level, she has served as a consultant to the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics to analyze statewide child death review findings and propose educational and legislative strategies. On a national level, she was appointed to serve on the CDC Steering Committee for the National Action Plan for Child Injury Prevention. In 2015, Dr. Bhatnagar received the American Medical Association Physician’s Recognition Award. Currently, she serves as co-chair for Population Health within the Pennsylvania Pediatric Health Network.

Professional and Scientific Society Memberships

  • American Academy of Pediatrics, Fellow (2003), 1999-Present 
  • Federal Advocacy Action Network of the American Academy of Pediatrics, 2007-Present 
  • American Medical Association, 2008-2009  
  • Academic Pediatric Association, 2008-Present 
  • Society for Clinical and Translational Science, 2009-Present 
  • American Academy of Pediatrics, Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention, 2010-Present 
  • American Public Health Association, 2011-Present 
  • American Public Health Association, Section on Injury Control & Emergency Health Services, 2011-Present 

Education & Training

  • BS, Chemistry and English, Carnegie Mellon University, 1995
  • MD, Drexel University College of Medicine, 1999
  • Residency in Pediatrics, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, 1999-2002
  • MPH, Healthcare Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, 2008
  • Certificate, Leadership Principles, Harvard Business School Online, 2020

Selected Publications

Bhatnagar S, Hoberman A, Kearney DH, Shaikh N, Moxey-Mims M, Chesney RW, Carpenter MA, Greenfield SP, Keren R, Mattoo TK, Mathews R, Gravens-Mueller L, Ivanova A. Development and Impact of an Intervention to Boost Recruitment in a Multicenter Pediatric Randomized Clinical Trial. Clin Pediatr 2014; 53:151-7. PubMed PMID:24151147

Martin JM, Hoberman A, Paradise J, Barbadora K, Shaikh S, Bhatnagar S, Shope T, Block S, Haralam MA, Kurs-Lasky M, Colburn DK, Green M. Emergence of Streptococcus pneumoniae Serogroups 15 and 35 in Nasopharyngeal Cultures from Young Children with Acute Otitis Media. PIDJ 2014; 33:e286-90. PubMed PMID:24911895

Keren R, Shaikh N, Pohl H, Gravens-Mueller L, Ivanova A, Zaoutis L, Patel M, deBerardinis R, Parker A, Bhatnagar S, Haralam MA, Pope M, Kearney D, Sprague B, Barrera R, Viteri B, Egigueron M, Shah N, Hoberman A. Risk Factors for Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection and Renal Scarring. Pediatrics. 2015 Jul;136(1):e13-21. PMID:26055855

Shaikh N, Hoberman A, Keren R, Gotman N, Docimo S, Mathews R, Bhatnagar S, Ivanova A, Mattoo TK, Moxey-Mims M, Carpenter M, Pohl H, Greenfield S. Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections in children with Bladder and Bowel Dysfunction. Pediatrics. 2016 Jan;137(1):1-7. PubMed PMID:26647376

Shaikh N, Hoberman A, Keren R, Ivanova A, Ziessman HA, Cui G, Mattoo TK, Bhatnagar S, Nadkarni MD, Moxey-Mims M, Primack WA. Utility of sedation for young children undergoing dimercaptosuccinic acid renal scans. Pediatr Radiol. 2016 Oct;46(11):1573-8. doi: 10.1007/s00247-016-3649-0. PMID:27287454

Hoberman A, Paradise JL, Rockette HE, Kearney DH, Bhatnagar S, Shope TR, Martin JM, Kurs-Lasky M, Copelli SJ, Colborn DK, Block SL, Labella JJ, Lynch TG, Cohen NL, Haralam MA, Pope MA, Nagg JP, Green MD, Shaikh N. Shortened Antimicrobial Treatment for Acute Otitis Media in Young Children. N Engl J Med. 2016 Dec 22;375(25):2446-2456. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1606043. PMID: 28002709

Hoberman A, Paradise JL, Rockette HE, Jeong JH, Kearney DH, Bhatnagar S, Shope TR, Muñiz G, Martin JM, Kurs-Lasky M, Haralam M, Pope MA, Nagg JP, Zhao W, Miah MK, Beumer J, Venkataramanan R, Shaikh N. Reduced-Concentration Clavulanate for Young Children with Acute Otitis Media. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2017 Jun 27;61(7). pii: e00238-17. doi: 10.1128/AAC.00238-17. Print 2017 Jul. PMID: 28438923

Martin JM, Hoberman A, Shaikh N, Shope TR, Bhatnagar S, Block SL, Haralam MA, Kurs-Lasky M, Green M. Changes Over Time in Nasopharyngeal Colonization in Children Under 2 Years of Age at the Time of Diagnosis of Acute Otitis Media (1999–2014). Open Forum Infectious Diseases. Volume 5, Issue 3, 1 March 2018, ofy036, PMID: 29588912

Bhatnagar S, Hoberman A, Kurs-Lasky M,  Kearney DH, Haralam MA,  Nagg J, Shaikh N. An Innovative Recruitment Strategy in a Pediatric Clinical Trial. Clinical Trials. Clin Trials. 2020 Jun;17(3):338-340. doi: 10.1177/1740774520910396. Epub 2020 Mar 1. Clin Trials. 2020. PMID: 32114798

Shaikh N, Shope TR, Hoberman A, Muniz GB, Bhatnagar S, Nowalk A, Hickey RW, Michaels MG, Kearney DH, Rockette HE, Charron M, Lim R, Majd M, Shalaby-Rana E, Kurs-Lasky M, Cohen DM, Wald ER, Lockhart G, Pohl HG, Martin JM. Corticosteroids to prevent kidney scarring in children with a febrile urinary tract infection: a randomized trial. Pediatr Nephrol. 2020 Nov;35(11):2113-2120 doi: 10.1007/s00467-020-04622-3. Epub 2020 Jun 15. PMID: 32556960; PMCID: PMC7529851.

Academic and Research Interests

  • Primary Care
  • Clinical Research
  • Population Health