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Magee-Womens Research Institute Receives Nearly $1M from Richard King Mellon Foundation to Fund Projects

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PITTSBURGHMagee-Womens Research Institute (MWRI) has received three grants from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, totaling nearly $1 million. The projects are aimed at supporting socially disadvantaged mothers, implementing and expanding technologies so that clinicians can intervene when there is a higher risk of infant mortality or morbidity, and reimagining fundraising strategies for the institute in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.


The first project aims to provide doula care—trained professionals that provide physical and emotional support to mothers before, during and shortly after childbirth—to socially disadvantaged women, who are at a high-risk for adverse birth outcomes. Doulas counsel women through their pregnancies, and studies have shown that including them on the birthing team leads to healthier moms and babies. In collaboration with UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital and Healthy Start Inc., the project helps MWRI to gather data in support of the inclusion of doula access for women who would benefit from the added resource.


“Doulas can play a vital part in ensuring that a patient’s voice is heard, care adherence is maximized and that the patient’s perspective and wishes are followed,” explained Hyagriv Simhan, M.D., executive vice chair of obstetrical services at UPMC Magee. “We are thankful to the Richard King Mellon Foundation for their generous gift, which acknowledges the importance of having doulas as part of a woman’s care team during pregnancy, childbirth and in the postpartum period.”


The second project expands upon previous work to improve clinician databases and allow care providers to communicate and intervene where there is a high-risk of infant mortality or morbidity. Previous research indicates the need for community engagement to improve outcomes and funding from the grant will be used to establish community-based interventions and resources targeted at mothers facing disparities. 


The final project aims to implement and assess new fundraising campaigns for MWRI as the COVID-19 pandemic revealed new challenges with sponsorships and financial strain on donors. The grant will be used to develop a robust, new giving program to support the MWRI mission of improving women’s health.


“These grants will support critical women’s health initiatives at MWRI and UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital,” said Michael Annichine, MWRI’s CEO. “We are grateful for our long-term partnership with the Richard King Mellon Foundation. Their shared commitment to improving the lives of women and families will make an impact for generations.”