Saving mothers’ lives close to home, around the world

Stacie Geller

Stacie Geller: work improving the health of women around the glob “embodies the strengths and distinction of UIC researchers.” Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

This year, UIC honors 10 outstanding researchers with the Researcher of the Year Award, a $5,000 cash prize. Five established faculty members were named Distinguished Researchers and five early career scientists were honored as Rising Stars.

Stacie Geller
Distinguished Researcher, Clinical Sciences

Stacie Geller has spent her career improving the lives and health of women.

Geller is the G. William Arends professor and associate head for research in obstetrics and gynecology, director of the Center for Research on Women and Gender and director of the National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health at UIC.

Her research on reducing maternal mortality and morbidity has led to both clinical and public policy interventions that may save thousands of lives, locally and internationally.

An estimated 13.8 million women every year worldwide suffer severe postpartum hemorrhage, with about 140,000 dying from this complication after birth.

Geller’s research identified postpartum hemorrhage as the leading cause of maternal mortality in Illinois and found that death was avoidable in 69 percent of cases. Based on these findings, Illinois requires every physician and registered nurse provider in hospital obstetric units to complete a maternal hemorrhage education program.

Internationally, her research has a life-saving impact in developing countries in Africa and Asia, where up to 35 percent of all maternal deaths are due to postpartum hemorrhage.

When women give birth in hospitals in developed countries, they are commonly given an injection of oxytocin to prevent postpartum hemorrhage — a drug that requires refrigeration. In developing countries, women often give birth outside of a hospital and rarely receive such treatment.

In a study Geller conducted in India, she showed that the drug misoprostol is an effective alternative to oxytocin that can be effectively used in resource-poor areas. Relatively inexpensive at $1 per dose, it can be taken by mouth and does not require refrigeration.

As a result of her research, last year the World Health Organization recommended the misoprostol to prevent postpartum hemorrhage, given by community health care workers in settings where skilled birth attendants are not present.

Geller “embodies the strengths and distinction of UIC researchers in her achievement of research excellence and in the impact of her research on women, minorities and the underserved worldwide,” wrote Pauline Maki, professor of medicine and psychiatry, in nominating her for the award.

Other Researchers of the Year

Natasha Devroye: Rising Star, Natural Sciences & Engineering 

Xiaoping Du: Distinguished Researcher, Basic Life Sciences 

Leon Fink: Distinguished Researcher, Humanities 

Stacie Geller: Distinguished Researcher, Clinical Sciences 

Rachel Havrelock: Rising Star, Humanities 

Seungpyo Hong: Rising Star, Basic Life Sciences

Bing Liu: Distinguished Researcher, Natural Sciences & Engineering 

Ben Superfine: Rising Star, Social Sciences 

Krista Varady: Rising Star, Clinical Sciences 

Maria Varelas: Distinguished Researcher, Social Sciences 

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