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Release Date: 03/17/2014

Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island recently named E. Christine Brousseau, MD, its sixth Women's Reproductive Health Research (WRHR) Scholar.

The WRHR Career Development Program was initiated in 1998 by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD), in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute. In 2005, Women & Infants and Brown University were awarded one of the competitive WRHR Program Grants. As one of 17 currently active programs, the Women & Infants/Brown WRHR Program ensures protected time for the selected physicians to pursue a research career in women's reproductive health.

By participating in the WRHR program, scholars such as Dr. Brousseau are able to devote 75 percent of their time to their research career development with support from mentors, research assistants and other research personnel. Maureen Phipps, MD, MPH, is the principal investigator for the WRHR program in Providence.

"Without protected time for research and career development, junior clinician-scientists are not able to prepare to compete in this competitive research environment," explains Dr. Phipps. "Women & Infants is honored to participate with Brown in the WRHR Scholar Program to cultivate the next generation of physician-researchers in women's health."

Dr. Brousseau has been a member of the Women & Infants' staff since 2006 and began working in the Division of Research in 2014. She will use the WRHR opportunity to pursue research to improve postpartum care for women, specifically on a study entitled "Improving the quality of postpartum care: A detailed analysis of postpartum emergency department visits."

"I am honored to be named a Brown/Women & Infants WRHR scholar. I intend to focus on the postpartum period as a 'missed opportunity' for improving women's health," Dr. Brousseau says. "New mothers are inevitably engaged with our health care system in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Better understanding their most common needs and complications promises to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness with which we deliver care.

"In doing so, we can improve the health of new mothers immediately postpartum and over the long term. The time, resources and guidance provided to me by Women & Infants and Brown University will be invaluable in allowing me to generate detailed and useful data for this study and beyond.

She will work with her WRHR mentors Dr. Phipps and Kristen Matteson, MD, MPH, research director of the Program.

Dr. Brousseau is an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. She earned her medical degree from St. Louis University School of Medicine. She is vice chair of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology's Rhode Island section and was named a McCain Fellow in 2013. This experience has given her first-hand exposure to policy development and the legislative process in the federal and state government.

WRHR Scholars typically work through the program for two to five years and then secure their own grant funding for their projects to continue independently. Past WRHR Scholars at Women & Infants have included:

  • Kristen Matteson, MD, MPH, the hospital's first WRHR scholar, who is backed by NIH grant monies as she continues her work in Women & Infants' Emergency Triage Department and the Division of Research. She studies potential medical treatments for heavy uterine bleeding.
  • Vivian Sung, MD, MPH, a urogynecologist with Women & Infants' Center for Urogynecology and Reconstructive Pelvic Surgery, who earned grant support through a Brown University/Women & Infants Hospital National Center of Excellence in Women's Health seed grant and an American Urogynecologic Society Foundation Grant. Her focus is improving the decision-making process and the outcome measures used in treating female pelvic floor disorders. She has also earned a NIH career development award to develop and test a questionnaire that will measure patient functioning in women with these disorders.
  • Brenna Anderson, MD, MSCR, of the hospital's Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine. She earned NIH funding for a study examining the risk of HIV acquisition in pregnancy, and a separate grant from the Brown/Lifespan Center for AIDS Research funds her study in South Africa examining the impact of treating trichomoniasis on genital shedding of HIV among non-pregnant women with HIV. She also spent her time as a WRHR Scholar pursuing studies examining vaginal immunity in pregnancy. She is now the alternate principal investigator for the hospital's site of the NICHD Maternal-Fetal Medicine Unit (MFMU) Network.
  • Vinita Goyal, MD, MPH, of the Division of Research, conducted research on contraceptive use among female veterans and has specifically investigated the association between a history of military sexual trauma and receipt of contraceptive services through the Veterans Administration health care system. Dr. Goyal was the primary investigator for the Lalor Foundation Grant "Comprehensive sex education in young women in Rhode Island," a study that provided reproductive health information, and was co-investigator on the Society of Family Planning Grant "A randomized controlled trial of 2% lidocaine gel for IUD insertion.
  • Katina Robison, MD, an oncologist with the hospital's Program in Women's Oncology, continues her research focusing on women's cancers, quality of life, and prevention. Dr. Robison is the primary investigator on an institutional-funded grant evaluating the prevalence of abnormal anal cytology and high-risk HPV among women with a history of cervical, vaginal or vulvar neoplasia. She is currently designing a survivorship database to follow women with cancer longitudinally to assess them for baseline measures and design appropriately-timed interventions. Dr. Robison recently completed an observational cohort study, funded by the Rhode Island Foundation, that evaluated the prevalence of high-risk HPV among Southeast Asian women.

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About Women & Infants Hospital

Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, a Care New England hospital, is one of the nation’s leading specialty hospitals for women and newborns. A major teaching affiliate of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University for obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics, as well as a number of specialized programs in women’s medicine, Women & Infants is the 9th largest stand-alone obstetrical service in the country and the largest in New England with approximately 8,500 deliveries per year. A Designated Baby-Friendly® USA hospital, U.S.News & World Report 2014-15 Best Children’s Hospital in Neonatology and a 2014 Leapfrog Top Hospital, in 2009 Women & Infants opened what was at the time the country’s largest, single-family room neonatal intensive care unit.

Women & Infants and Brown offer fellowship programs in gynecologic oncology, maternal-fetal medicine, urogynecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery, neonatal-perinatal medicine, pediatric and perinatal pathology, gynecologic pathology and cytopathology, and reproductive endocrinology and infertility. It is home to the nation’s first mother-baby perinatal psychiatric partial hospital, as well as the nation’s only fellowship program in obstetric medicine.

Women & Infants has been designated as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiography; a Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology; a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence by the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and a Neonatal Resource Services Center of Excellence. It is one of the largest and most prestigious research facilities in high risk and normal obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics in the nation, and is a member of the National Cancer Institute’s Gynecologic Oncology Group and the Pelvic Floor Disorders Network.
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