Endowed professor honored by international medical society

Mary D. Stephenson

UIC’s Dr. Mary Stephenson (Photo: Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists)

Mary Stephenson, UIC’s head of obstetrics and gynecology, has been awarded Fellow ad eundem by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG). The RCOG is an international organization of more than 16,000 members dedicated to improving the standard of care provided to women globally and encouraging the study, science and practice of obstetrics and gynecology.

The royal college council bestows Fellow ad eundem to individuals who have made significant contributions to the advancement of obstetrics and gynecology. Stephenson, the Theresa S. Falcon-Cullinan Professor and Department Head of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the UIC College of Medicine, is one of a handful of individuals who received this prestigious award at the RCOG annual admission ceremony on June 8 in London.

Stephenson was recognized for her work as one of the world’s leading clinicians and translational researchers in the field of recurrent pregnancy loss.

“Recurrent pregnancy loss is a heartbreaking challenge for as many as one in 20 women,” said Stephenson, an OB/GYN, reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist. “And while we know a lot about sporadic miscarriage, which usually occurs when there is a chromosome error at the time of conception, we do not know nearly enough about repeated pregnancy failure.”

Stephenson has led several multi-center randomized trials on recurrent pregnancy loss and infertility, and has collaborated on several studies to determine the optimal dosing of medications during the first, second and third trimesters of pregnancy. She also has led and collaborated on research to advance the understanding of the genetic basis for miscarriage, including the identification of possible “miscarriage genes” that may cause embryo developmental defects that lead to miscarriage.

Stephenson joined UIC in 2012. In her tenure with the university, she has made further impact in the delivery of women’s reproductive and gynecologic health care locally and in Ethiopia, where her faculty support a four-year residency program in obstetrics and gynecology, making a profound impact on how women’s health care is practiced and inspiring many new researchers and clinicians.

Stephenson said that her induction into the RCOG is a testament to the valuable role of research in improving the health and quality of life of women.

“It is an honor and truly humbling,” Stephenson said.  “I am most proud of the faculty in the UIC department of obstetrics and gynecology for their dedication to improve the standard of care in women’s health, both locally and abroad. With our commitment to the OB/GYN residency in Ethiopia, we are making a profound difference to the health and quality of life of women globally.”

Previously, Stephenson was a faculty member at the University of Chicago and the University of British Columbia, in Canada. She is the co-editor of the textbook Early Pregnancy, which is now in its second edition. Stephenson is also presently the international adviser for the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) Early Pregnancy Special Interest Group. She is a frequent plenary lecturer and post-graduate instructor at annual meetings of ESHRE, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society.