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Women’s Health & Infant Services

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Women’s and Infant Services Research

Introduction to Women’s and Infant Services Research

Women’s and Infant Services research is concerned with the health of women during all stages of life, including pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, and menopause, and the health of the fetus and newborn. This field encompasses many dimensions of research that collectively reduce maternal and infant morbidity and mortality and improve quality of life for women and children.

Our researchers focus on issues such as high-risk maternal/fetal medicine, breast/gynecologic cancer and disease, urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, other pelvic floor disorders, and heart disease in women. At MedStar, research in the maternal-child arena also centers on effective delivery of care, with an emphasis on meeting the needs of patient populations that are traditionally medically underserved.

Research Topics

Specific areas of research interest include:

  • Pregnancy prevention and parenting among adolescents
  • Maternal-fetal medicine (high-risk obstetrics)
  • Neonatology
  • Pediatric and adolescent gynecology
  • Gynecologic oncology
  • Medical education
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
  • Vaccine during pregnancy
  • Fibroid treatment studies
  • Mobile health (mHealth; healthcare supported by mobile technologies)
  • Obesity and pregnancy
  • Urogynecology and pelvic reconstructive surgery.

Some of our efforts are highlighted below.

Teen Alliance for Prepared Parenting (TAPP) Program (for patients/participants)

This youth services program provides services to help young parents avoid unintended subsequent pregnancy during adolescence; continue and complete their education; master life management and parenting skills; and improve the future wellbeing of their children.

This program is part of the Center for Adolescent Health at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and is directed by Loral Patchen, PhD, MSN, CNM. This program focuses on strategies to prevent sexually transmitted infection and re-infection among teens, improve reproductive and sexual health decision-making, and promote the use of dual-method contraception. Learn more about the TAPP program  and Loral Patchen, PhD, MSN, CNM.

Urogynecological Surgery (for patients/participants)

Our fellowship trained and board-certified urogynecologic research team is evaluating methods to restore quality-of-life for women suffering from pelvic floor disorders, including urinary incontinence (bladder control problems); overactive bladder; pelvic organ prolapse (dropped bladder, fallen uterus or vagina, rectal bulging); accidental bowel leakage; and menopausal conditions. Our specialists use the latest techniques, including minimally invasive surgery. Learn more about some of our research on pelvic floor disorders and urogynecological surgery.

Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology (for patients/participants)

At MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Pediatric and Adolescent Obstetrics and Gynecology is directed by Veronica Gomez-Lobo, MD. Our researchers are currently investigating the following topics.

  • Fertility preservation in cancer
  • Disorders of sex development (sponsored by the National Institutes of Health’s
  • Disorders of Sex Development Translational Research Network)
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in adolescents
  • Pelvic pain in adolescents
  • Immune system of the cervix in adolescents (DC-FAR grant)
  • Metabolic evaluation and attitudes toward fertility preservation in transgender adolescents
  • Pelvic masses in adolescents.

Learn more about some of our research on pediatric and adolescent gynecology.

HIV and Women’s Health (for patients/participants)

The Women’s Center for Positive Living, MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s HIV Obstetrics and Gynecology practice, is directed by Rachel K. Scott, MD, MPH. Learn more about some of our HIV studies.

Mobile Health (for patients/participants)

Our mHealth programs deliver theory-driven and evidence-based interventions, including the use of social media platforms, to address public health priorities among vulnerable populations.

Current areas of mHealth research include adolescent sexual and reproductive health as well as breastfeeding initiation and continuation among minority women.

Our research team utilizes a user-centered development approach to guide the conceptualization and design of our mHealth interventions.  

Medical Education Through Simulation Training (for healthcare professionals and sponsors)

This research, conducted in collaboration with MedStar’s Simulation Training and Education Laboratory (SITEL), explores the effectiveness of various methods of clinical training for women’s health and neonatal practitioners. Some current projects are listed below.

  • Electronic Fetal Monitoring (EFM) Interpretation and Decision Making in Serious Gaming vs. in Laboratory Simulation
    This project, funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, compares the effectiveness of two techniques of training on EFM interpretation and subsequent decision making.
  • Maternal Code Simulation
    This project explores the impact on clinical performance of including maternal code simulation in an educational curriculum.
  • Implementation of Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education Milestones into a Simulation Curriculum
  • Long-Term Effects of Simulation-Based Team Training Program on Legal Claims in MedStar Perinatal Departments

Awards, Recognitions, Innovative Technologies

  • The National Center for Advanced Pelvic Surgery is a Center of Excellence at MedStar Washington Hospital Center as designated by the National Association for Continence.
  • The Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology fellowship program at MedStar Washington Hospital Center is a member of the Disorders of Sex Development Translational Research Network and is an Oncofertility Consortium member through Children’s National Medical Center.

Contact Information

Contact us to obtain more information about our research programs.



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