Rogers Uses Passion for Women’s Health Research as a Catalyst for Education, Receives Scholarship

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Anna Joy Rogers

Fourth-year medical student Anna Joy Rogers is passionate about maternal and fetal health care.

“Pregnancy and childbirth are critical times in the life of a woman,” Rogers said. “Additionally, they set the stage for the health of every individual.”

Under the guidance of her research adviser, Giancarlo Mari, MD, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UTHSC, Rogers has studied the impact of maternal obesity on birth outcomes. Her prior doctoral research used qualitative, quantitative, and modeling methods to explore the implementation of policy aimed at preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV in low-resource settings. She has also examined couple-relationship dynamics and their impact on HIV-related health behaviors, as well as the cost-effectiveness of obstetrical interventions.

Rogers is the recipient of a $15,000 Scholar Award from the International Chapter of the Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O.) Sisterhood for the 2019-2020 academic year. The award will fund her medical education and continued research in women’s health. She was sponsored by Chapter O of Memphis.

“Maternal exposures and modes of delivery have been shown to impact a wide range of health conditions including cardiometabolic, developmental, and behavioral health,” she said. “I am passionate about two areas in particular: Preventing transmission of HIV from mother to child, both domestically and internationally, as well as safely reducing the rate of preventable cesarean deliveries and their associated morbidity.”

Rogers’ interest reaches internationally through her work with mothers and babies in Kenya. “I have seen the impact that lifesaving maternal interventions, and the lack thereof, can have on women, children, and families,” she said. “I strongly believe that healthy pregnancies are the foundation for healthy lives and families.”

Rogers earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in epidemiology and medical anthropology studies at Boston University, and a doctoral degree in public health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health.

She has won numerous awards for her research including an International Clinical Research Fellowship from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, a Dissertation Fellowship from the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, a Medical Research Scholarship from the Infectious Disease Society of America, and a Young Investigator Award from the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. She has been elected to the Delta Omega Public Health Honor Society and the Gold Humanism Honor Society.

The P.E.O. Scholar Awards were established in 1991 to provide substantial merit-based awards for women in the United States and Canada, who are pursuing a doctoral-level degree at an accredited college or university. Scholar Award recipients are a select group of women chosen for their high level of academic achievement and their potential for having a positive impact on society.

“As someone who is passionate about women attaining high levels of health for themselves and their families, I am inspired by how the P.E.O Sisterhood represents 150 years of women helping women achieve educational success,” Rogers said.