During 2017, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) funded more research dollars to Gillings principal investigators than any other NIH institute, awarding approximately $19,783,000 to projects led by Gillings researchers. Continue reading to learn more about projects that were actively funded during FY 2017.


Dr. P. Gordon-Larsen

Dr. Penny Gordon-Larsen

Exome Variants Underlying Weight Gain from Adolescence to Adulthood

This project aims to investigate how genetic variants influence temporal changes in body mass index (BMI) and downstream cardiometabolic risk factors at a vulnerable lifecycle periods for weight gain, with differential risk across race/ethnic groups. The research is expected to contribute to the understanding of risk in the transition from adolescence into adulthood, a period of rapid weight gain when precursors of adult disease are developing, in order to inform efforts to mitigate early development of disease risk. Learn more.

Headshot of Joanna Maselko

Dr. Joanna Maselko

Impact of Perinatal Depression Treatment on Child Developmental Outcomes

The goal of this study is to rigorously evaluate the impact of a perinatal depression intervention that starts prenatally and continues through 6 months post-partum and its influence on child development. The study will make a key contribution to reducing the negative consequences of maternal depression on the child and will also advance our knowledge of child development, which may lead to new interventions for common mental health problems. Learn more.

Dr. Peggy Bentley

Mothers and Others: Family-based Obesity Prevention for Infants and Toddlers

Despite increases in obesity among infants and toddlers few published interventions promoting healthy diet and decreased sedentary behaviors among this age group exist. This study aims to fill that gap. The proposed intervention, “Mothers and Others: Family-based Obesity Prevention for Infants and Toddlers” will be one of the first to meet the unique needs of individual families by delivering anticipatory guidance on infant care, feeding and growth through multiple channels and to multiple caregivers. Learn more.

photo, Dr. Myra Carpenter

Dr. Myra Carpenter

Adolescent Medicine Trials Network for HIV/AIDS Interventions (ATN) Coordinating Center

Approximately 25% of new HIV infections occur in children and young people, with higher rates among minorities and young men who have sex with men. The National Institutes of Health is developing a research network to develop methods to increase awareness among at-risk youth of their HIV status and, for those with HIV, ensure that they have and retain access to care. This research project centers around the provision of leadership and research support to this network. Learn more.

Dr. Daniel Westreich

Dr. Daniel Westreich

Pregnancy and Response to Antiretroviral Therapy in South Africa

The goal of this study  is to investigate the effect of pregnancy on response to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) among HIV positive women in treatment in Johannesburg, South Africa. This work is expected to dramatically increase the base of scientific and public health evidence on this important subject. Learn more


Dr. Katherine Tumlinson

Dr. Katherine Tumlinson

Service Delivery Factors Influencing Contraceptive Use Dynamics in Developing Countries: A Mixed-Methods and Cross-Disciplinary Approach

Family planning has been shown to save the lives of women and children living in developing countries yet total fertility rates and unmet need for family planning in much of sub-Saharan Africa remain high. Improving our understanding of the service delivery factors that inhibit continued contraceptive use is an important yet understudied line of research. Results of this study will redefine traditional approaches to assessing the quality of family planning service delivery in developing countries and quantify the impact of service quality on contraceptive continuation. Learn more.

Prof. McNaughton Reyes

Dr. H. Luz McNaughton Reyes

Teen Dating Violence: Identifying Heterogeneity Using Person Centered Approaches

Dating violence is a prevalent national problem with devastating consequences for victims. This study is expected to identify distinct patterns of risk, co-morbidity and change in adolescent dating violence victimization and perpetration. Findings will inform theoretical understandings of dating violence and contribute to identify subgroups of teens that may benefit from different intervention approaches. Learn more.

Understanding the linkages between intimate partner violence and postpartum sexual risk: A longitudinal study of HIV-positive and HIV-negative pregnant South African women

Curable sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can have devastating consequences for pregnant and postpartum women, including increased risk of acquiring and transmitting HIV. The objective of this study is to provide a more nuanced and comprehensive understanding of the role of intimate partner violence (IPV) victimization as a factor contributing to postpartum sexually transmitted infection and STI-risk behavior among HIV-positive and HIV-negative South African women. Findings will inform the development of targeted efforts to prevent IPV- related sexual risk among pregnant and postpartum women in sub-Saharan Africa. Learn more.

Dr. Julie Daniels

Dr. Julie Daniels

Training Program in Reproductive, Perinatal and Pediatric Epidemiology

The Reproductive, Perinatal, and Pediatric Epidemiology (RPPE) program is unique in that it bridges across three departments in the Gillings School of Global Public Health: Epidemiology, Nutrition, and Maternal and Child Health. The program’s goal is to provide trainees with a multidisciplinary perspective: a strong foundation in epidemiologic concepts and methods, the underlying biology of reproduction and child development and growth, and research experience and skills to pursue independent careers in reproductive, perinatal and pediatric epidemiologic research. Learn more.