Department of

Public Health Seminars:



Jordyn Wallenborn, Fourth Year PhD Student


Maternal and Child Health

The Maternal and Child Health epidemiology research program in the Division of Epidemiology is focused on improving the health and well-being of women, children and families. This research includes issues related to perinatal health, provision of comprehensive care to underserved pregnant women, infant development and school readiness, youth violence, sexual violence prevention, and assessment of women’s health status.

Current projects in this research area include:

  1. Postpartum Study (PI: Masho): This study compares the effectiveness of a shortened postpartum interval with the standard interval on the rates of postpartum visit attendance, contraceptive use, unintended pregnancy and Rapid Repeat of Pregnancy in predominantly underserved areas.  Additionally, the study evaluates the cost-effectiveness of the different visit schedules. This study is a collaborative project between the VCU Institute for Women’s Health, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Epidemiology in the Department of Family Medicine and Population Health and University of Vermont. The study is financially supported through a federal grant awarded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
  2. Virginia Strong Start (PI: Masho): The Strong Start Project compares the Centering Pregnancy prenatal care model with the usual prenatal care in reducing poor birth outcomes among Medicaid recipient high risk pregnant women. This multisite project is a collaborative effort with the Richmond Health District, Manassass Midwifery Women’s Health Center, Greater Prince William Community Health Center, VCU’s Obstetrics and Gynecology department and Shenandoah Women’s Healthcare. Partners include Virginia Chapter March of Dimes, Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS), Virginia Department of Health and the Centering Healthcare Institute (CHI). The project is funded through a federal grant awarded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
  3. Evaluation of the Healthy Start Initiative (PI: Masho): The goal of this project is to evaluate a comprehensive case management program designed to reduce perinatal disparity among at-risk and underserved African American women in Richmond, Virginia. The Healthy Start Evaluation Project is funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, HRSA (HRSA) and contracted by the Richmond Social Services Department (RSS).
  4. Oral Probiotic Bacteria Supplementation to Reduce Harmful Inflammation and Attenuating Immune System Deterioration in HIV-infected Malian Women (Co-PI: Masho): This study assesses beneficial intestinal bacteria before and after probiotic administration in HIV infected women in Mali and the relation to immune system functioning. Intervention is performed in two clinics in Segou, Mali, serving 60,000 people. This is a collaborative study between researchers from the VCU Institute for Women's Health, VCU schools of Medicine, Nursing, and World Studies in the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences. Daniel Nixon, DO, PhD (Co-PI), director of the VCU HIV Center leads the scientific implementation of project and Patricia Cummins, PhD (Co-PI) leads the partnership in Mali. The study is funded through the Grand Challenges Explorations Grant, awarded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
  5. Women’s Stroke Prevention Initiative (Masho Co-I): This initiative focuses on examining the efficacy of electronic stroke screening and management tools in identifying and managing risk factors to stroke. The project aims to promote stroke prevention in women, with a focus on underserved populations. Dr. Masho serves as a Co-I, lead epidemiologist on the study. Warren Felton, M.D., professor of neurology and the medical director of the VCU Stroke Center, is the project’s principal investigator. Susan Kornstein, M.D., professor of psychiatry and obstetrics/gynecology and executive director of the Institute for Women’s Health, serves as the co-principal investigator. This study is a collaborative project between the VCU Institute of Women’s Health, the Departments of Neurology, Internal Medicine, and Family Medicine and Population Health.  The Women’s Stroke Prevention Initiative is supported by a competitive grant from Pfizer.
  6. Healthy Families for Youth: A comprehensive community-level intervention to reduce youth violence (Masho Co-P): The goal of the proposed research is to implement and evaluate the impact of a comprehensive community-level youth violence prevention strategy that integrates the Communities That Care prevention system and the Walker Talker community outreach and capacity building approach (CTC PLUS) in three high-risk urban communities. The project will assess the impact of the intervention on: a) primary youth violence outcomes (e.g., homicides and intentional injuries); b) proximal outcomes including decreased neighborhood disorganization, increased numbers of youth served by high quality, evidence-based violence prevention programs, and decreased risk and increased protective and promotive factors associated with youth violence; and c) aspects of neighborhood and community readiness and capacity associated with youth violence prevention. Findings from this study will inform youth violence prevention strategies in other communities.
  7. Stress, social support and disparities in perinatal outcomes: an exploration of the influence of stress and social support on poor pregnancy outcomes and its role in perinatal disparities.
  8. Sexual and reproductive decision making: an exploration of social and environmental factors affecting decisions related to sexual and reproductive health and the contextual factors that influence a woman’s ability to control if and when to have children.
  9. Breastfeeding research: exploring factors influencing disparities in breastfeeding and factors affecting breastfeeding behaviors.