Current Scholars

Yeyi Zhu

Yeyi ZhuDr. Zhu is an epidemiologist with postdoctoral training on reproductive and perinatal epidemiology at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Dr. Zhu joined Kaiser Permanente Northern California (KPNC) to expand the scale and generalizability of her work to a real-world healthcare setting serving over 3 million members. Her research focuses on women’s cardiac and metabolic health across the lifespan, particularly the interface of the cause of disease and prevention strategies. Gestational diabetes (GDM) has become the most common pregnancy complication in the US, and is a growing and urgent public health concern due to its short- and long-term sequelae for affected women and infants. The number of GDM-complicated pregnancies that require resource intensive medication therapy (insulin and oral agents) has been increasing. For women who may eventually require medication therapy – rather than lifestyle modification alone – the amount of time that passes between the first- and last-line therapies is not trivial. This timing is a challenge to effective treatment. Dr. Zhu will develop and validate a risk prediction model for GDM treatment procedures using electronic health record data from a cohort of GDM-complicated pregnancies from the KPNC Pregnancy Glucose Tolerance and GDM Registry. Ultimately, healthcare providers may be able to use this clinically-oriented model for GDM treatment in a risk-based model of care.

 

Brittany Chambers

Dr. Chambers is a community health researcher focused on understanding and reducing sexual and reproductive health inequities among Black women. She does this by examining the impact of interpersonal and structural racism on women's lives and within the healthcare system. Black women in the US carry a disproportionate share of the burden of adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes compared to women in all other racial groups. Evidence shows there is a direct relationship between racial discrimination and adverse birth outcomes, in addition to Black women’s dissatisfaction with care, mistrust of providers, and non-adherence to recommended medical regimens. However, there are few effective interventions addressing racial discrimination in medical settings that improve Black women’s care experiences and health outcomes. Dr. Chambers will develop and pilot a racial equity training for prenatal care providers designed to:

  1. Increase providers’ awareness of the root causes of racism and health inequities, and motivate them to control discriminatory acts and prejudice; and
  2. Reduce providers’ explicit and implicit racist attitudes and beliefs.

Dr. Chambers will use the PhotoVoice method to incorporate Black women’s experiences and voices in training providers. The ultimate outcome of her BIRCWH award will be a racial equity training ready to be tested in a cluster randomized controlled trial.

 

Lauren Ralph

Dr. Ralph is an epidemiologist focused on understanding young women’s decision-making in the context of pregnancy, and the nature of the relationship between early and unintended childbearing and women’s educational attainment. Although on the decline in recent years, unintended pregnancy is a common experience for young women in the US. Approximately one in four women give birth before age 20, and those who do generally have lower levels of educational achievement over time compared to women who give birth when older. Dr. Ralph will use data from a new longitudinal study of adolescent and young adult women at risk of pregnancy to examine whether lower levels of educational attainment are a direct result of childbearing or related to women’s socioeconomic resources and opportunities prior to the pregnancy. She will also examine how young women make decisions about pregnancy, and characterize their capacity for independent and informed decision making. The ultimate goal of her work is to inform evidence-based policies to support the health and well-being of pregnant and parenting young women.