VCU Institute for Women's Health



Maternal and Child Health

Effectiveness of Shortened Interval to Postpartum Visit in Improving Attendance
PI: Saba Masho, MD
Sponsor: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

This Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality funded RO1 randomized trial ($1.9 million; Saba Masho, PI) examines the effectiveness of a shortened interval to postpartum visit on rates of postpartum visit attendance, contraceptive use, and rapid repeat of pregnancy. The study seeks to randomly assign postpartum women to 3-4 weeks or 6-8 weeks postpartum visit intervals and follow them for 18 months. Collaborating units include Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Biostatistics and the Center for Clinical and Translational Research.

Richmond Healthy Start
PI: Saba Masho, MD
Sponsor: Richmond City

Dr. Masho has served as the evaluator of the Richmond Healthy Start Initiative since 2003. Healthy Start is a federally funded program designed to provide care to low-income pregnant women. The services include screening, referral and comprehensive case management that encompasses home visitation programs.

Richmond/Petersburg Baby Basic Moms Club

PI: Susan Kornstein, MD
Sponsor: March of Dimes         

This March of Dimes funded project Baby Basic Moms Club of Richmond/Petersburg is in collaboration with community partner Healthy Hearts Plus II, a local nonprofit serving Richmond since 1998. The program goal is to provide community-based culturally adapted prenatal education to minority women in Richmond and Petersburg as a strategy to improve birth outcomes in this population. Six core topics that are vital to healthy pregnancies and healthy babies are safe sleep, pre-term births, nutrition, depression, relationships and substance abuse. The Before Baby Program's initiatives and goals are aimed at improving pregnancies through personal interaction, education, and community.  The VCU sponsored clubs have a heightened focus on breastfeeding as a direct strategy to reduce preterm births. This project has provided the foundation for additional breastfeeding research through IWH. Picture

Community Engagement

Testing a Proposed Evidence Base for the Red Flag Campaign: Promoting Prevention through Program and Messaging Evaluation

PI: Rowena Briones, PhD
Sponsor: VCU Community Engagement

Dr. Rowena Briones, Assistant Professor of Public Relations, Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture, and Dr. Kellie Carlyle, Associate Professor of Social and Behavioral Health, School of Medicine, partnered with a local nonprofit agency, Action Alliance, to develop and pilot an outcome evaluation of the Red Flag Campaign. The Red Flag Campaign uses a bystander intervention strategy to address and prevent sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking on college campuses. The Campaign is a project of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, and was created by college students, college personnel, and community victim advocates. The evaluation project includes faculty, students and staff from the VCU School of Education, VCU School of Social Work, VCU Department of Psychology, Student Affairs, and the VCU Wellness Resource Center.

A Community-Based Participatory Research Evaluation of the Mommies, Bellies, Babies, & Daddies:  the ABCs of Breastfeeding

PI: Susan Bodnar-Deren, PhD, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Sponsor: VCU Community Engagement

This project funded by the VCU Council on Community Engagement was designed to pilot an evaluation of the intervention “Mommies, Babies, Bellies & Daddies – The ABCs of Breastfeeding ”using community-based participatory research (CBPR) methodology.  This community-based, grass-roots intervention, developed by Healthy Hearts Plus II, was designed to encourage, inform and empower mothers to care for themselves and their babies and to increase breastfeeding initiation and duration.  Research has empirically shown breastfeeding provides substantial health benefits for children and mothers, including reduced infection rates, obesity, and post-neonatal mortality among children, and a lower risk of breast and ovarian cancer among mothers. Young mothers of low socioeconomic status are unlikely to breastfeed, and therefore need additional supports to achieve success. The findings form this study will be used as baseline data for seeking larger funding to establish the ABC’s of Breastfeeding as an evidence-based best practice model for community-based breastfeeding promotion.

Stroke Prevention

Virginia Women's Stroke Prevention Initiative

PI: Warren Felton, MD, Professor of Neurology and Medical Director of the VCU Stroke Center
Sponsor: Pfizer Independent Grants for Learning and Change

The project’s goal is to improve primary prevention of stroke in women through increasing stroke screening. Project objectives include: increased stroke screening in our population of underserved women aged 45 years and older during primary care visits by using a validated screening tool incorporated into the electronic health record; increased primary care practitioner management of modifiable stroke risk factors using evidence-based guidelines in appropriate women identified using a power plan order set incorporated into the electronic health record; and increased awareness of stroke prevention strategies in these women and their primary care practitioners through the use of consumer health information, web-based teaching modules, and other educational programs.

Global Women’s Health

Reducing Harmful Inflammation and Attenuating Immune System Deterioration in HIV-Infected Malian Women

PI: Daniel Nixon, PhD
Sponsor: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation       

A Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Explorations grant funded this IWH project in Mali, Africa. The purpose of the project is to pilot a probiotic as a novel intervention to improve gut microflora in order to reduce inflammation and slow the progression of HIV in women in Segou, Mali. The project is now actively recruiting subjects.  Results of this pilot study may provide preliminary data to proceed with a larger outcomes study.  IWH efforts on the grant have included coordinating IRB submissions both at VCU and in Mali, negotiating contracts for equipment purchases and establishing Dr. Fanta Diabate from Mali as a paid VCU affiliate faculty member, executing international fiscal transactions, communicating regularly with the sponsor to ensure award compliance, and securing new funds for the project from VSL pharmaceutical company. Dr. Patricia Cummins from the School of World Studies is co-PI.  Other collaborating units include the School of Nursing, the Department of Family Medicine and Population Health, and Virginia Friends of Mali.

VCU – Haiti Maternal Health Partnership

PI: Janett Forte, MSW
Sponsor:  VCU Global Education

This project formalized a long-standing partnership between IWH, VCU Department of OB/GYN, and the non-profit agency Midwives for Haiti to develop a sustainable study abroad experience in Haiti for VCU OB/GYN residents and VCU students from other related disciplines. This award was given to integrated high-capacity international experiences for VCU students.  Project leads are Janett Forte, IWH Special Projects Coordinator and Dr. Christine Isaacs, VCU Department of OB/GYN. VCU OB/GYN residents and VCU students from nursing, social work and other health disciplines will work alongside Haitian doctors, students, midwives, matrons and U.S. based volunteers to train Haitian women to deliver prenatal care and life-saving skills during childbirth as a strategy to reduce maternal and infant mortality in Haiti.



Women's Health Research Portal

Active Projects

Women's Health Research Day

Research Development Groups



Virginia Commonwealth University  |  Institute for Women's Health  |  Contact Us
Theater Row Building
730 E. Broad Street
4th Floor, Suite 4200
Richmond, VA


PO Box 980319
Richmond, VA 23298-0319
updated: March 29, 2016