Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellowship Research Opportunities

Our fellowship is designed to introduce fellows to basic science and clinical research as well as provide a strong basic science background in clinical maternal-fetal medicine. Up to 18 months are devoted to protected research training to allow fellows adequate time to develop their investigative skills and to receive the mentorship necessary to embark on a successful academic career. Since the start of the fellowship program in 1982, a third of our fellows have pursued academic careers. Several former fellows have received federal funding as Principal Investigators. This attests to the scientific environment of the division and throughout OHSU.

The division is committed to excellence in research. Division members serve as Principal Investigators on eight NIH grants and Co-investigators on 14 NIH grants. The OHSU OBGYN department ranked #6 for 2015-2016 and #11 for 2018-2019 by the NIH Blueridge Institute for Medical Research rankings. Antonio Frias, M.D. is the only recipient of two awards from the NIH Human Placenta Project. This $7 million of funding will support the next five years of translational non-human primate and longitudinal human studies at OHSU. In addition, the division is supported by non-NIH funding including the Gates Foundation, numerous institutional awards, and some industry funding.


Up to 18 months is devoted to protected fellow research training. The fellow's main research project is determined by his/her interests and the availability of a mentor. During the first two months of fellowship, the fellow has the opportunity to discuss in detail, with individual faculty, current research projects and interests. Fellows are also encouraged to explore projects and mentors outside the MFM division and OB/GYN department, including endocrinology, nephrology and cardiology. All prior fellows have successfully completed and published their thesis project by the third year of fellowship in addition to other multiple first authorship manuscripts, book chapters, and reviews.

Download a list of past fellowship projects


Criteria to be used in selection of a project will include the resources necessary to result in completion, the mentor's track record in training, the compatibility of the fellow and mentor and the hypothesis to be tested. Once the fellow has chosen an area of interest and a specific mentor agrees to accept the fellow, progress will be ascertained by discussion between the mentor and the fellowship directors, Drs. Shaffer and Frias, at quarterly reviews and by presentations at research conferences. Fellows are expected to design and complete a thesis research project of their choice that will result in a first authorship publication during fellowship and allow successful completion of the thesis requirement for sitting for the MFM oral board exam.


OHSU has the infrastructure in place to perform clinical, translational, and basic science projects;it is home to the internationally renowned Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC) that conducts basic science and translational research. There is a collegial relationship with all OB/GYN divisions (Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, Gyn Onc, Family Planning, and REI) within the OB/GYN department as well as with other departments at OHSU and the following:

  • Oregon National Primate Center (ONPRC): OHSU's west campus houses one of seven national primate research centers in the United States supported by the NIH. There are 60 doctoral-level research scientists on faculty and over 170 fellows, students, and research staff. Within the ONPRC there are four different research divisions:
    • Neuroscience
    • Division of Cardiometabolic health
    • Genetics
    • Pathobiology and immunology
    • Reproductive and developmental sciences
  • Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute (OCTRI): NIH-funded collaboration between OHSU and the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research with $9.2 M in direct funding per year and has extensive shared resources available for clinical and translational researchers.
  • Knight Cardiovascular Institute (KCVI): This is an integrated center for translational and collaborative research in all aspects of heart and vascular disease in pregnancy. Within this institute is the Center for Developmental Health directed by Dr. Kent Thornburg focused on conducting cutting-edge research and explores ways to prevent chronic disease like heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity.
  • Bob and Charlee Moore Institute for Nutrition and Wellness: This was founded to confront one of the biggest contributors to the rise of chronic disease: poor early life nutrition. Directed by Dr. Kent Thornburg, this institute is committed to reduce the prevalence of chronic diseases across the lifespan in current and future generations by promoting healthy, nutrient-rich diets based on whole-foods in early life –before conception, during pregnancy and lactation, and in infancy and early childhood.
  • Perinatal Research Group: The Perinatal Research Group led by the internationally recognized placental biologist, Dr. Les Myatt, collaborates on basic and translational research programs focused on perinatal and neonatal development and includes multi-disciplinary scientists from Obstetrics, Pathology, Radiology, Neonatology, the CDH, and the ONPRC. This group meets monthly to review data, collaborate on research grants, preparation for presentations at national meetings and publication.
  • Women's Health Research Unit (WHRU): Founded within the Department of OBGYN and the Center for Women's Health and conducts numerous national research projects related to women's health research activities administered by the WHRU. It currently includes 13 NIH research grants, eight NIH clinical trials, 23 industry-sponsored clinical trials, and 31 other sponsored research projects.
  • International Research Opportunities: OHSU has a long-standing and successful collaboration with both the public and private health sector in Colombia led by Jorge Tolosa, M.D., chair of the SMFM Global Health Committee, particularly with ESE-Clínica Rafael Maternidad, Colombia's largest public obstetric hospital. In addition, Calvo has collaborated with OHSU to develop the African Coalition for Excellence in Obstetric and Neonatal Care to improve ultrasound, research, and high risk obstetric training in Ghana, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Zambia and Rwanda.