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Innovation in Maternal Health

March 24, 2022 @ 4:00 am - 8:00 pm


This event will feature a series of sessions, discussions, and panels examining racial disparities and inequities faced during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum through the lens of industry experts, entrepreneurs, innovators and those with lived experiences.

4:00- 5:00PM | Conversation Corner 1: Lived Experiences in Family Building
Building a family can take many pathways. Whether male infertility or no male partner is part of that equation, donor insemination can play a role. Join this conversation facilitated by Michelle Ottey, Managing Director of CIC and consulting Director Laboratory Director at FairFax Cryobank, that explores the lived experiences of family building.

4:00- 5:00PM | NIH Technology Accelerator Challenge for Maternal Health Info Session
Maternal health is in crisis globally and here in the United States. Rates of maternal morbidity and mortality are higher in the U.S. than in any other developed nation, with severe racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in maternal health outcomes persisting across the country. While there are many complex contributing factors and potential solutions, new biomedical technologies have the potential to improve maternal health and reduce morbidity and mortality rates. The National Institutes of Health, as part of the White House call to action to reduce pregnancy-related deaths and complications, has issued multiple opportunities to support innovators developing maternal health technologies to address this crisis, two of which will be presented at this session.

The NIH Technology Accelerator Challenge for Maternal Health is offering up to $1 million in cash prizes to spur and reward the development of prototypes for low-cost, point-of-care molecular, cellular, and/or metabolic sensing and diagnostic technologies that could ultimately be used to diagnose and prevent the primary conditions associated with maternal morbidity and mortality. Additionally, NIH is encouraging the small business and technology transfer communities to apply for grant funding to support the development and validation of various approaches, technologies, and tools, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, that indicate states of increased risk for and presence of maternal morbidity and mortality.

Dr. Ilana Goldberg, Program Director
Dr. C. Taylor Gilliland, Senior Advisor for Innovation Programs, Office of the Director at NIBIB

5:00- 6:00PM | Trend ThinkTank: Innovation to Decrease Maternal Mortality
Over the past two decades, the US has seen an increase in maternal mortality by 50-70. In Philadelphia, the Maternal Mortality Review Committee’s 2020 Report highlighted that Non-Hispanic Black Women Represent 73% of Pregnancy-Related Deaths in Philadelphia.

Aasta D. Mehta, MD, MPP, Medical Officer of Women’s Health at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, and Director of the Philadelphia Maternal Mortality Program has called for collaborative, innovative change: “In order to meaningfully reduce maternal mortality, it is necessary to work collectively, think outside the box and develop innovative solutions.” We’ll explore how innovation can decrease the trend with our Trend ThinkTank Panelists.

ThinkTank Panelists:
Moderator: Tif Wilson, President & CEO of the Science Center
Jacquelyn Caglia, Director of Learning, Communications and U.S. Programs, Merck for Mothers (confirmation in process)
Stefanie T. Modri, RN, MSN, C-MNN, co-founder of Vasowatch
Panelist invitation pending

6:00- 7:00PM | Trend ThinkTank: Innovation to Support Maternal Mental Health
Mental health issues are the most common complications of pregnancy and childbirth, affecting approximately 1 in 5 parents during pregnancy or the first year after being pregnant. Maternal Mental Health issues include a range of disorders and symptoms, including but not limited to depression, anxiety and psychosis. When left untreated these disorders can cause devastating consequences for the mother, her baby, her family and society.

The good news is that risk for both depression and anxiety can be reduced and sometimes prevented, and with treatment women can recover. This panel discussion focuses on some of the major causes of Maternal Mental Health issues and ways that innovators are working to address them.

ThinkTank Panelists:
Dr. Jenny Starosta, Clinical Psychologist
Kyana Brathwaite, CEO of KB CALS, Caring Advocacy & Services Liaison
Kirthika Parmeswaran, CEO of Vital Start (confirmation in progress)
Sage Therapeutics
Moderator invitation pending

6:00- 7:00PM | Conversation Corner 2: Lived Experiences
Small group conversation with people sharing their lived experiences relating to maternal health. Led by Jenne Johns.

6:00- 8:00PM | Demo Tables Highlight Maternal Health Focused Start-Ups and Community Resources
Meet startups and community organizations innovating in and transforming maternal health.
Pippy Sips
Vital Start
Lia Diagnostics
Maternity Care Coalition/MOMmobile
Zawadi Doula Services
The Priceless Woman and Magic Vsteam

7:00- 8:00PM | Futures Lab: Maternal Health in 2050
Join us for a special workshop session where we will brainstorm and investigate potential futures in maternal health. Why should we design for the future? Futures thinking isn’t meant to make any predictions, but rather reveal the many possible and probable futures that could be. This type of thinking exercise allows us to examine the implications of present-day issues to gain new perspectives and context for decision making strategies.


March 24, 2022
4:00 am - 8:00 pm


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