Dr. Higgins is the Associate Vice President for Research and Sponsored Programs. She joined FGCU in 2022. She received her M.D. from Georgetown University School of Medicine. She trained in Pediatrics at the University of Virginia and Neonatal- Perinatal Medicine at the University of Rochester. Dr. Higgins most recently served as the Senior Associate Dean for Research in the College of Health and Human Services at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Previously, she served as the Program Scientist for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Neonatal Research Network , Medical Officer and Program Officer at the National Institutes of Health for over 16 years. The Neonatal Research Network has performed landmark studies that have led to improvements in public health for sick and premature babies including cooling therapy for asphyxiated infants, respiratory management for premature infants, general care and follow up of high-risk infants, and surveillance and management of infection in babies. Before joining NIH, Dr. Higgins had over 12 years of experience in academic medicine at New York University and Bellevue Hospital and Georgetown University. At New York University and Georgetown, she had a funded basic science laboratory focused on cell culture and animal models of oxygen toxicity to study the basis and mechanisms of retinopathy of prematurity. Currently, she focuses on public health issues across the lifespan. She has significant expertise in the area of neonatal-perinatal medicine, prematurity, substance use and abuse from clinical trials, observational studies and longitudinal follow up studies.