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Woman's Health Research

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Women's Health Research
Vanderbilt University

2525 West End Avenue, Suite 600
Nashville, Tennessee 37203-1738
Phone: 615.343.4196 (Dana Glore)

Women's Health Research faculty and staff include:

HartmannKatherine Hartmann, MD, PhD
Director, Women´s Health Research
Deputy Director, Institute for Medicine and Public Health
Director, Vanderbilt AHRQ Evidence-based Practice Center
Lucius E. Burch Chair in Obstetrics and Gynecology

Dr. Hartmann is one of only a handful of researchers in the world who leads a study platform focused on early pregnancy  She continues to lead three National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded research projects.  Two of these grants support Right from the Start , a study she leads that has been continuously enrolling participants since 2000 and now includes more than 5,000 completed pregnancies.  This groundbreaking study is focused on how events around the time of conception and in early pregnancy influence adverse pregnancy outcomes such as miscarriage, poor fetal growth, and preterm birth.  The third grant investigates the relationship between subclinical thyroid disease and risk of stroke and heart attack in post-menopausal women who were participants in the NIH Women’s Health Initiative study.

Dr. Hartmann remains dedicated to fostering the career development of talented new investigators by serving as the program director for the NIH Building Interdisciplinary Careers in Women’s Health K12 grant, which funds five junior faculty as they transition to independently directing and funding their own portfolios of rigorous research focused on women’s health or gender biology.  She thrives on the energy, excitement, and challenges of building their academic productivity and leadership skills while helping them develop a "voice" within their profession. 

McPheetersMelissa McPheeters, MPH, PhD
Deputy Director, Women´s Health Research

Dr. McPheeters is Co-director of the Vanderbilt Evidence-based Practice Center and an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and General Medicine and Public Health as well as Deputy Director for Women´s Health Research. She is a healthcare epidemiologist with a focus on synthesis of evidence and translation of evidence into public health and policy. She has an MPH in maternal and child health, and a PhD in Epidemiology, and her work largely centers on the use of evidence in the care of pediatric patients. Dr. McPheeters has been conducting comparative effectiveness research for over a decade, and she co-directs Vanderbilt´s CTSA Database Core. She also teaches in the doctoral program in Epidemiology. Her esearch includes systematic reviews of therapies for children with autism, evaluation of the role of stakeholders in compartive effectiveness research and the intersection of research and policy in maternal and child health issues. 

LikisFrancie Likis, DrPH, NP, CNM
Investigator, Vanderbilt Evidence-based Practice Center, Institute for Medicine and Public Health

Dr. Likis is an Investigator for the Vanderbilt Evidence-based Practice Center and has participated in multiple comparative effectiveness reviews related to pregnancy and women´s health. She has a clinical background as a certified nurse-midwife and nurse practitioner, and later received her doctorate in public health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In addition to her work with the Institute for Medicine and Public Health, she is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Midwifery & Women´s Health and co-editor of the award-winning textbook Women´s Gynecologic Health, now in its second edition. Her primary areas of interest are contraception, the challenges of implementing evidence-based practice in women´s health care, and scientific writing. Dr. Likis has been an educator and mentor for graduate students throughout her career, initially as a clinical preceptor for nurse practitioner and nurse-midwifery students and later as a faculty member and Coordinator of Graduate Education for the largest nurse-midwifery program in the United States.

Velez EdwardsDigna R. Velez Edwards, PhD, MS
Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Dr. Velez Edwards is a genetic epidemiologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.  Dr. Velez Edwards received her PhD in Human Genetics and Masters in Applied Statistics at Vanderbilt University with subsequent postdoctoral training in human genetics at the University of Miami.  She is an active member of Women’s Health Research at Vanderbilt, the Center for Human Genetics Research, and the Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center. She is also a member of the teaching faculty in the Vanderbilt Epidemiology doctoral program. Her research is focused on identifying genetic risk factors for complex diseases with a specific focus on genetic factors related to women’s health and reproductive outcomes.  Dr. Velez Edwards is leading the Right From the Start DNA Databank which aims to advance understanding the roles of genes and environment in pregnancy health and outcomes.  Dr. Velez Edwards is also dedicated mentoring graduate, undergraduate, and medical students with the goal of expanding genetic epidemiology in women’s health research at Vanderbilt University.

Toye M. Spencer
Program Manager, Women's Health Research

TM Spencer aka ‘Spencer,’ supports aspects of  Vanderbilt’s doctoral BIRCWH program and doctoral program in epidemiology, including facilitating BIRCWH scholars’ transition to independent researchers, providing program infrastructure, improving team communication strategies, assisting in development of administrative systems and written protocols for new projects and programs, planning and hosting local and remote events, working closely with the director to facilitate multiple administrative leadership roles and creating new communication tools. In addition, she serves as support staff on two advisory boards and manages office issues, including logistics for space, moves, furniture, and property maintenance.