Research Portfolio

The department has several ongoing, long-term research projects and studies:

(Click on a project for more information)

Lead Investigator:  Deborah Wage

This study addresses the intractable challenges of adverse birth outcomes, including preterm delivery and low birthweight, by proposing the development, implementation and evaluation of a model of group prenatal care that could be scaled nationally.  Group prenatal care models have been demonstrated through rigorous research to provide significantly improved birth outcomes with implications for maternal-child health and substantial cost savings.  However, group prenatal care is currently available to only a small fraction of the more than four million women who give birth annually in the US.  Through the development, implementation and evaluation of a new model of group prenatal care, we will create an outcomes-focused model of group prenatal care that will be scalable nationally with an eye toward improving US birth outcomes. This project will include a collaborative team that links the Yale School of Public Health, UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform and Modernization (CHRM), and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. It will utilize the services of instructional design specialists, IT solutions providers, consumer experience professionals, and others to leverage expertise and resources from these strong partners in clinical research and innovations in health care.  

Lead Investigator:  Katherine Hartmann

The National Children's Study will examine the effects of the environment and genetics on child health, growth and development.  The goal of the study is to improve the health and well-being of children. The National Children's Study is the largest child health study in US history and aims to follow 100,000 children from before birth to age 21.    

Lead Investigator:  Katherine Hartmann, MD, PhD


More than five million reproductive age women in the United States have uterine fibroids. Fibroids are noncancerous growths made up primarily of muscle cells. These firm rounded masses are anchored within the wall of the uterus and vary in size from a pea to a grapefruit and larger. The influence of fibroids on miscarriage and preterm birth is very poorly understood. Right from the Start (RFTS) will answer key questions about how fibroid size and location relate to risk of poor pregnancy outcome. Our goal is for women and their healthcare providers to have more accurate information about whether fibroids influence pregnancy outcomes and if so, which fibroids matter most. RFTS will provide a foundation for continued research on care and treatment to assure the best possible pregnancy for women who have fibroids.

Lead Investigator: Kimberly Fortner

We are conducting a prospective evaluation of women accepting Tdap postpartum.  Enrolled women had prevaccine sera drawn, received the Tdap vaccine and then serologic antibody titers are being collected at regular intervals out to 2 years post vaccine.  Women in the trial who are breastfeeding are asked to submit breastmilk for post vaccine antibody evaluation as well.

Lead Investigator:Kimberly Fortner

Healthy pregnant women between ages 18-40 who are between 28 0/7 weeks - 34 6/7 weeks pregnancy will be randomized in a 2:1 ratio to receive either GBS vaccine or saline placebo. Pre and post vaccine maternal sera, cord blood, and infant blood will be collected and analyzed.

Lead Investigator: Kimberly Fortner

Prospective clinical immunization safety evaluation of antenatal Tdap.  All pregnant women between 27 0/7 weeks and 35 6/7 weeks who intend to receive routine antenatal Tdap vaccination will be approached for enrollment in this clinical observation study. Primary objectives are to: (1) compare rates of injection-site  and systemic reactions after Tdap in pregnant women versus non-pregnant women. (2) And to assess rates of preterm and small for gestational age (SGA) births in women who received Tdap during pregnancy  

Lead Investigator: Kevin G. Osteen, PhD


To date, research on the role of environmental toxicant exposures in development of endometriosis has been conflicting, but both human and animal studies suggest that some environmental toxins, like dioxin (a byproduct of manufacturing), may play a role. The specific disease mechanisms linking dioxin exposure to endometriosis remains obscure, but we have shown that this toxicant can act to disrupt endometrial responsiveness to the hormone progesterone. Progesterone plays a well-recognized protective role in reducing a woman’s risk for developing endometriosis. By determining the specific effects of dioxin on cells obtained from normal human endometrial tissue, we should develop a better understanding of the role of environmental factors on the disease of endometriosis. Thus, new guidelines for the medical management of women and children exposed to this toxin in the environment may be established.


Research Team: Kaylon Bruner-Tran, PhD; Esther Eisenberg, MD


Funded by: National Institute of Environmental Health Science [R01 ES014942]