IMPROVE Awardee Workshop

Date and Time

– February 15, 2022, 04:00 PM EST

Virtual only.

Event Information

NIH launched the Implementing a Maternal health and PRegnancy Outcomes Vision for Everyone (IMPROVE) initiative to support research on how to mitigate preventable maternal mortality, decrease severe maternal morbidity, and promote health equity. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, NIH awarded over $7 million to support 36 projects through the IMPROVE initiative to rapidly improve understanding of and mitigation strategies for the leading causes of pregnancy-related and pregnancy-associated morbidity, from pregnancy through up to one year postpartum.

The IMPROVE Awardee Workshop brings together researchers and clinicians supported by NIH IMPROVE funding in FY20 to share their work and progress to date. Workshop participants will:

  • Share research results and lessons learned from their IMPROVE projects
  • Identify common themes and highlight shared research gaps and opportunities that can complement ongoing disease-specific work across NIH and collaborating organizations
  • Further define the needs of pregnant and postpartum individuals to reduce preventable causes of morbidity and mortality





Presentations and Presenters

11:00–11:15 a.m. ET

Welcome & Introduction


Dr. Janine A. Clayton
Director of ORWH

Dr. Diana Bianchi
Director of NICHD

11:15 a.m.–12:15 p.m.

Cardiovascular Risk & Preeclampsia



  • Signatures of dysfunctional mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation that predispose to early-onset preeclampsia
    Dr. Kathryn Johnson (PI/Presenter)
  • Prenatal Blood Pressure Patterns to Predict Pregnancy-Related Hypertension and Later Life Cardiovascular Risk
    Dr. Erica Gunderson (PI/Presenter)
  • Neurovascular Unit Dysfunction in Women with Severe Preeclampsia
    Dr. Eliza Miller (PI/Presenter)
  • Preconception contributors to severe maternal morbidity in black and white women
    Dr. Janet Catov (PI/Presenter)

Moderator: Dr. Gina Wei (NHLBI)

12:15–12:45 p.m.

Lunch Break


12:45–1:30 p.m.

Identification & Prevention of MMM Risk


  • Maternal obesity and inflammation as drivers of maternal morbidity in COVID-19
    Dr. Andrea Edlow (PI/Presenter)
  • Improving Health by Linking Postpartum and Well-Baby Visits
    Drs. Sadia Haider (PI/Presenter) and Rachel Caskey (Presenter)
  • UCLA Clinical Translational Science Institute
    Drs. Steven Dubinett (PI) and Kim Gregory (Presenter)

Moderator: Dr. Sarah Yoon (NINR)

1:30–1:40 p.m.



1:40–2:55 p.m.



Structural & Systemic Contributors to MMM



  • Educational Attainment, Geography, and U.S. Adult Mortality Risk
    Drs. Jennifer Montez (PI) and Pinka Chattergi (Presenter)
  • Mitigating the Impact of Implicit Bias on Maternal Morbidity and Mortality for African American Women
    Drs. Nigel Paneth (PI), Gwendolyn Norman (Presenter), and Sarah Blake (Presenter)
  • Pregnancy-Associated Mortality 
    Drs. Maeve Wallace (PI) and Emily Harville (Presenter)
  • South Carolina Clinical and Translational Research Institute (SCTR)
    Drs. Kathleen Brady (PI) and Carol Wagner (Presenter)
  • Administrative Supplement to Policy Change and Women's Health
    Dr. Claire Margerison (PI/Presenter)

Moderator: Dr. Jennifer Alvidrez (ODP)

2:55–3:05 p.m.



3:05–3:50 p.m.

Mental & Behavioral Health



  • Relationship between mental health coverage and outcomes for privately insured women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMAD)
    • Dr. Kara Zivin (PI/Presenter)
  • Reducing Racial Disparities and Maternal Mortality Associated with Untreated Peripartum Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders
    • Dr. Constance Guille (PI/Presenter)
  • Postpartum Opioid Related Mortality in Medicaid Patients
    • Drs. Krista Huybrechts (PI) and Elizabeth Suarez (Presenter)

Moderator: Dr. Lauren Hill (NIMH)

3:50–4:00 p.m.

Conclusion & Thanks

Dr. Courtney Aklin
Acting NIH Associate Deputy Director


IMPROVE is an NIH-wide initiative led by NIH OD, NICHD, and ORWH, with participation from multiple NIH institutes, centers, and offices, that was established in response to the rising U.S. rates of pregnancy-related deaths. This multipronged, innovative research effort is designed to address maternal mortality and morbidity, including severe maternal morbidity, and improve maternal health before, during, and after pregnancy. IMPROVE includes a special focus on health disparities and populations disproportionately affected, such as African Americans, American Indians/Alaskan Natives, Asian Pacific Islanders, Hispanics/Latinas, very young women and women of advanced maternal age, and people with disabilities.