University of Washington


Name of Program:

Maternal and Child Health Leadership Training Program, School of Public Health, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

Contact Information

Director:  Melissa A. Schiff MD, MPH,
Maternal and Child Health Program
University of Washington, School of Public Health
Box 357236
Seattle, WA 98195-7230

Mission of the Program:

This graduate degree program in public health develops leaders to support the health of women and children in Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Idaho and nationally. The curriculum is responsive to local and regional needs for skills in: epidemiology, statistics, program evaluation, and using data for needs assessment and program planning. Activities include a two-year in-residence education leading to a Master of Public Health (MPH), doctoral training (PhD) in Health Services or Epidemiology and a distance learning program leading to a public health certificate or MPH for health professionals. Technical assistance is provided to governmental and not-for-profit community-based MCH agencies, funders and policy makers. The project coordinates with MCH agencies through faculty and student service: student practica are designed to assist State Title V agencies, staff members of Title V agencies provide guest lectures, serve on the program’s advisory board, and on the editorial board of the Northwest Bulletin. Students’ research projects use national, state or local-level data to examine current MCH concerns.

Degrees and Certificates Offered:

  • MPH in the Department of Epidemiology or Health Services with a concentration in MCH
  • Graduate Certificate in MCH (for UW graduate students not enrolled in the MCH concentration)
  • Support of doctoral students with MCH foci in the departments of Epidemiology and Health Services

Non-degree Training Opportunities & Continuing Education:

  • Quarterly webinar series on MCH topics for professionals in the field
  • Northwest Bulletin, an electronic newsletter on MCH topics for Region X professionals and others

Examples of Current Research:

Melissa Schiff, MD, MPH, Professor of Epidemiology and Obstetrics/Gynecology and the Director of the MCH Program, is collaborating with her colleague Dr. Beth Mueller (adjunct faculty in MCH) on an NIH-funded project to evaluate pregnancy outcomes among women with physical, sensory, and intellectual disabilities using the Washington State birth certificate and hospitalization discharge data. Pregnant women with disabilities represent another unique population along the life course continuum as many of these women were children with special health care needs. Dr. Schiff has been working on reaching community-based partners to gain a better understanding on an individual basis of some of the issues experienced by these women including access to health care, interactions with health care providers, pregnancy- or disability- related questions and personal insights that would make pregnancy easier for women in the future.

Tess Abrahamson-Richards, MPH (2014 graduate) evaluated American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) youth and the ongoing obesity epidemic that is quite prevalent in this population. One of the newer concepts in her study of overweight and obesity was the perception of individuals regarding their weight – whether they viewed themselves as overweight or obese or of normal weight. Using the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System survey to identify overweight and obese AI/AN youth, Ms. Abrahamson-Richards compared those who are accurate to those who were misperceivers of their weight status on their weight loss activities, dietary and physical activity patterns. Her goal is to better understand how this new concept can be applied to future obesity prevention strategies among the AI/AN youth population.

Todd Edwards, PhD, MA, Assistant Professor of Health Services and a faculty member of the MCH Program, is starting a new NIH-funded research project to develop and validate a parent observer-reported clinical outcomes system in which primary caregivers will partner with the health care team to assess their children’s functional outcomes associated with cleft lip and palate. This work is essential because there is a wide variation in care for these children, in part because lack of standard outcome measures that can be applied across diverse treatments.

Annie Hoopes, MD, a current MCH student in Health Services, is working with several school-based health clinics in Seattle to evaluate the effects of education and counseling about long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) on adolescents’ attitudes about these effective methods. Her thesis project will also evaluate the effect of a health educator in the clinics on the acceptability of the LARC device placement within the school-based health clinic setting.

Steve Hawes, PhD, MS, Associate Professor of Epidemiology, is currently collaborating on a project that is evaluating two cervical cancer screening protocols comparing human papillomavirus (HPV) testing and cervical cytology in a clinical setting to self-collection of HPV testing at home. A goal of the study is to assess the acceptability and cost-effectiveness of the two approaches.

Partnerships & Collaborations:

The MCH program and individual faculty are engaged in a number of technical assistance activities to the MCH community and community partners. During the past year, Melissa Schiff has served on the Neural Tube Defects Advisory Board for the Washington State Department of Health in response to a significant increase in the number of neonates born with neural tube defects in the state. Dr. Schiff is also serving on the Steering Committee of the Washington State Department of Health’s Pregnancy Risk Assessment and Monitoring System.

Dr. Huebner is an advisory board member of CHILD Profile, an immunization registry program, and parent-education project of the Washington State Department of Health (Title V MCH Program), in partnership with Public Health – Seattle & King County. She also serves on the MCHB working group for MCH professional development that created the MCH Navigator and participates in its dissemination, including a HRSA-sponsored webinar “MCH Navigator: Introducing a New Online Resource for Teaching and Learning.”