Melissa Riley, MD, grew up in northeast Ohio with about 70 rotating siblings over her childhood years. Her family was a foster family and eventually adopted four of those children to add to the biological group. As No. 2 of the now eight, Riley found caring for and teaching the younger children were her passions and was destined to become the first physician in her family, not surprisingly in the field of pediatrics.
Largely failing at attempts for organized sports, she more promptly excelled as mathlete and was often found dodging chores by getting lost in the magical world of books and art projects. Her studious nature paid off, and she was accepted into a direct entry medical school program from high school. Riley managed to hang on to her high school sweetheart, Lang, through college and medical school, and the two were married after her intern year.
Staying in Pittsburgh for neonatology fellowship after residency, Riley joined Dr. Toni Darville’s lab investigating immune signaling pathways in C. trachomatis infections (perhaps a foreshadowing of her eventual move to St. Louis?). Here she discovered a love for phenomenal mentoring while simultaneously recognizing a severe repugnance for mice. With a fresh appreciation for all physician scientists, Riley knew clinical medicine was where she belonged and settled into caring for neonates while revamping and leading the neonatal transport services and the neonatal outreach program.
Riley was recruited to St. Louis to join the Division of Neonatology as medical director in 2020. She is renewing the unit’s passion for teamwork with a focus on excellent clinical care and patient safety. Relocating during a pandemic, though, has its challenges. The Riley family bought their house online and saw it for the first time when they moved in! But after a year and a half, St. Louis is feeling like home.
Riley and Lang have two active boys who love ice hockey, baseball and playing the piano. You can usually find them compensating for the lack of snow in Missouri by freezing at a local ice rink as their children skate to burn their endless energy. The family also enjoys hiking with their dog, Heidi, kayaking and traveling. Their most recent family trip was to Iceland to tour the country and see the puffins and glaciers, and they are eagerly awaiting the fall of COVID to finally allow for travel again!