2017 OB/Gyn Faculty, Residents, and Midwives honored

At our annual resident gradaution and celebration, residents, midwives, and faculty were honored for their teaching, service, research and mentorship. The award for best third year resident research project (presented at our annual resident research day) was also awarded. The Winners are listed below.

Congratulations to our faculty, midwives, fellow and residents award winners.

•    Certified Nurse Midwife Award - Hayfaa Aldasoqi, CNM, WHNP
•    CREOG National Faculty Award for Excellence in Resident Education – Julia Switzer, MD
•    Affiliate Service Award – Betty Chan, RN
•    Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics Excellence in Teaching – Tamika Alexander, MD
•    Medical Student Teaching Award-Intern – Nicole Betenia, MD, MPH
•    Medical Student Teaching Award-2nd year – Lauren Pinkard, MD, MPH
•    Medical Student Teaching Award-3rd year – Alexis Braverman, MD
•    Medical Student Teaching Award-4th year – Rachel Harrison, MD
•    Best CREOG Score – Alyssa Small, MD
•    Resident Professionalism Award PGY 1 – Sarah Atkinson, MD
•    Resident Professionalism Award PGY 2 – Cara Cleaver Delaney, MD, MPH
•    Resident Professionalism Award PGY 3 – Carolyn Davis, MD, MPH
•    Resident Professionalism Award PGY 4 – Fátima Guzmán-Gawel, MD
•    Research Mentoring Award – Quetzal A. Class, PhD
•    Dr. Mary D. Stephenson Resident Research Award – Liz Corey, MD, MPH
•    Outstanding Resident Surgeon Award – Alexis Braverman, MD
•    Advocate Christ Teaching Award - TBA
•    MacNeal Teaching Award - TBA
•    Golden Apple Award - TBA
•    Midwifery Practice Resident Award – TBA
•    Senior Resident Teaching Award  - TBA
•    Special Resident in Minimally Invasive Gynecology Award – TBA
•    Excellence in Obstetrics Award – TBA
•    Outstanding Senior Resident  – TBA

OBGYN Rising Star Award & Faculty of the Year


Rising Star Award - Musa Zamah, MD, PhD

Musa Zamah, MD, PhD won the 2017 UIC College of Medicine Rising Star Award for Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Zamah has built a robust clinical practice, primarily in infertility, in vitro fertilization, and recurrent pregnancy loss.  He has brought his science, evidence-based clinical practice, passion for teaching and great attitude to the Department and his career goals align perfectly with the mission, vision and values of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Faculty of the Year - Abigail Litwiller, MD
Dr. Litwiller is an interactive educator who promotes a positive learning environment, and demonstrates continuous practice improvements while being an inspirational mentor.  Within a year of joining the Department, she has begun a transformational change to the Residency Program with her motivational approach to teaching and scholarship and her dedication to humanism and professionalism. Dr Abigail Litwiller won the 2017 UIC College of Faculty of the Year Award for Obstetrics and Gynecology



Please welcome the newest members of the UIC OB/GYN Resident Team 


We Have Castle Connolly Top Ob/Gyns!

Seven of our physicians are considered to be among the top Castle Connolly Ob/Gyns.
Please join us in congratulating them!


Annual Conference, 2016
Challenges in OB/Gyn: Pearls for Practice”
Chicago, October 27-28, 2016

Our Annual Conference, “Challenges in OB/Gyn: Pearls for Practice”, held on October 27-28, 2016, was a resounding success!  Over 100 registrants interacted with national and international Distinguished Faculty who provided state-of-the-art lectures on patient care topics.

The Charles Sumner Bacon Lectureship was given by Dr. Mark Pearlman, the S. Jan Behrman Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Michigan, who discussed controversies in breast cancer screening. The Gynecology Symposium finished with an interactive session moderated by Dr. Sondra Summers (chronic pelvic pain), with Dr. Pearlman (breast cancer prevention and management), Dr. Jessica Shepherd (minimally invasive gynecologic surgery), Dr. Julia Switzer (general Ob/Gyn) and Dr. AuTumn Davidson (family planning) participating in the discussion of challenging gynecologic cases.  

Keynote speaker for the 11th Annual Antonio Scommegna Symposium was Dr. Grace M. Janik, Clinical Professor at The Medical College of Wisconsin, who gave an outstanding lecture with videos on surgical management of endometriosis.  Dr. Bert Scoccia moderated an interactive session with Dr. Janik (endometriosis), Dr. Mary Stephenson (recurrent pregnancy loss/pregnancy of unknown location) and Dr. Musa Zamah (infertility/endometriosis) discussing endometriosis, IVF, PUL and ovulation induction.

Dr. Katharine D. Wenstrom, Professor and Director of Maternal Fetal Medicine at the Warren Alpert School of Medicine of Brown University, and Past President of SMFM, led the 16th Annual Laird Wilson Perinatal Symposium with an update on prenatal genetic testing options.  A session of case studies on the clinical management of periviability and maternal and fetal ethical issues was moderated by Dr. Laura DiGiovanni (MFM), with Dr. Dimitrios Mastrogiannis (MFM), Dr. Micaela Della Torre (MFM) and and Dr. Sachin Amin (Neonatology) participating.  

Dr. Dianne Miller, Associate Professor and Director of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of British Columbia, gave the keynote lecture for the Gynecologic Oncology Symposium on the role of opportunistic salpingectomy for ovarian cancer prevention, and cervical cancer screening in the era of HPV.  Dr, Rajul Kothari moderated a session on gynecologic oncology cases with Dr. Miller and Dr. Andras Ladanyi (UIC).

Attendees also got a tour of our newly renovated OB/Gyn Simulation Center and many joined us for a wine & cheese event for Alumni and Friends of our Department. 

Evaluations were outstanding and we look forward to next our Conference, which will be held on October 26-27, 2017.  Please join us!

Miscarriages May Be Prevented With



This article was published on TIME.COM

Well-timed doses of the hormone may help a woman's pregnancy

For women who have had multiple miscarriages, a safe and inexpensive progesterone treatment may increase their chances of completing a pregnancy. In a new study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, two-thirds of women who used the hormonal supplement before pregnancy successfully delivered babies, despite having had at least two previous pregnancy losses.

Progesterone has been shown to help stabilize the inner lining of the uterus called the endometrium, an important factor for healthy embryo development. Progesterone supplements (also known as micronized progesterone) have been recommended for more than 50 years for women struggling with infertility, but there’s been less research on how it might benefit women who get pregnant but then miscarry.

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago and Yale University recruited 116 women who had lost at least two early pregnancies, and tested their levels of nCyclinE, a molecular marker for endometrial health. Those with abnormal levels were then prescribed progesterone supplementation, to be inserted vaginally, twice a day during the second half of their menstrual cycles.

The intervention seemed to help. In the progesterone group, 68% of the women had subsequent successful pregnancies, compared to 51% of those who did not receive the hormone.

The researchers believe that the progesterone caused the endometrium to secrete more nutrients, which serve as food for an embryo in its first weeks of development. (Women who became pregnant continued taking progesterone until the 10-week mark.)

Lead author Dr. Mary Stephenson, director of the recurrent pregnancy loss program at the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences, says that women who have suffered multiple pregnancy losses should talk to their doctors about progesterone supplementation.

“We now know that, for some women, the use of progesterone in the second half of the menstrual cycle is associated with a higher likelihood of taking home a baby, and that is really good news,” says Dr. Stephenson. “We also know that progesterone is safe in early pregnancy, easy to use and inexpensive.”

Progesterone can be prescribed in several forms, including creams, capsules and pills that are inserted vaginally with an applicator. Women can self-administer these treatments, and they are usually covered by insurance, says Dr. Stephenson.

However, there are many possible causes of recurrent pregnancy loss, a condition that affects up to one in 20 women. Before deciding on a treatment option, she cautions, patients should undergo a thorough evaluation to determine what strategies might work for them.

In fact, the new research suggests that testing women for nCyclinE and other biomarkers may help doctors determine which patients would benefit from progesterone supplementation.

Co-author Dr. Harvey J. Kliman, director of the reproductive and placental research unit in the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at Yale School of Medicine, invented the patented test for nCyclinE levels used in the study.

“We initially created the Endometrial Function Test to identify women with infertility,” Dr. Kliman said in a press release. “This study has shown that the EFT can also be an important tool for patients with recurrent pregnancy loss.

”The study was published today in the journal Fertility and Sterility. Dr. Stephenson says she is in the early stages of developing a randomized clinical trial, which is needed to validate her early findings and influence any official recommendations for women who have had multiple miscarriages.

In the meantime, those women should talk with their doctors, says Dr. Stephenson. “We’ve been using vaginal progesterone for some time for recurrent pregnancy loss,” she says. “We know that it’s a reasonable strategy—one that should be discussed, risks and benefits, between patient and physician.” (Written by Amanda MacMillan. Updated: Jan. 9, 2017 5:09 PM)



Fellowship Match!


Two of our residents applied for fellowships this year, and both matched! One of our former fellows also matched! Please join us in congratulating our residents and alumni!

We are also excited to welcome our new REI fellow, beginning in July, 2017. Dr. Tia Jackson Bey who is presently a resident from Duke University, will be joining us as our new REI fellow. 

Rising Star Award

Gelila Goba, MD, MPH won the 2016 UIC College of Medicine Obstetrics & Gynecology Rising Star Award.  Dr. Goba won this award for establishing a formal partnership between the UIC Department of OB/Gyn and Mekelle University, Ethiopia, to support and improve the quality of their OB/Gyn residency program and provide faculty development, expand educational programs and initiate joint research.  With Dr. Goba’s wealth of experience ion building capacity, we are already seeing improvements in the delivery of educational, clinical and research initiatives at this site.  Dr. Goba has obtained funding this year from IDP Foundation, a Chicago-based organization which supports global health programs aimed at sustainability. Dr. Goba was presented the Rising Star Award at a College of Medicine Award Ceremony hosted by Dean Dimitri Azar and Dr. Tim Erickson on June 3, 2016.

Vosges Haut-Chocolat Support Recurrent

Pregnancy Loss (RPL) Program


Katrina Markoff, Founder & Head Chocolatier of Vosges Haut-Chocolat, hosted a chocolate tasting event at her Lincoln Park boutique on Wednesday, May 4th to support the Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Program at the University of Illinois College of Medicine and Hospital.  The event, held just prior to Mother's Day, brought together people who have struggled with recurrent pregnancy loss and their network of supporters.  In fact, one mother flew in from Connecticut to attend the event.

Dr. Stephenson talked about funding priorities, including education, public awareness and research.  Presently, the University of Illinois at Chicago has  the only Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Subspecialty Fellowship in the country.  Dr. Stephenson briefly discussed research priorities, including determining why recurrent pregnancy loss occurs and treatment strategies to improve  pregnancy outcomes in couples with a history of RPL.

Katrina, a patient of Dr. Stephenson's and proud mother of two wonderful boys, shared her personal story of recurrent pregnancy loss, speaking passionately about the need to create a community of support as well as give a voice to this often avoided topic.  She is an advocate for raising awareness about RPL and funding research so that fewer people will know the devastation of losing a pregnancy.  We thank Katrina for making a generous donation to the program, through contributing a portion of the proceeds of sales for the day.  Several other attendees also contributed to the Garden of Love donor wall located in the Center of Women's Health at UI Health.

For more information on how to support Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and Infertility research, please contact Heather Schuster, Director of Development, at (312) 355-5138 or hschust@uic.edu.

UIC Ob/Gyn Continues Work in Ethiopia


In March 2016, Dr. Humberto Scoccia, UIC Division Director of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (REI), Dr. Gelila Goba, Principal Investigator of the MELA Project, and two PGY 3 residents Dr. Rachel Harrison and Dr. Kristina Pontarelli travelled to Ayder Hospital in Mekelle, Ethiopia. 

The purpose of the trip was to introduce an REI curriculum, as well as operative hysteroscopy for Obstetrics and Gynecology faculty and PGY 4 residents.   

“The trip was a great opportunity to introduce UIC residents to medicine in Africa,” says Dr. Gelila Goba, Assistant Professor of OB/GYN at UIC.  

"We also helped launch an REI curriculum, which is increasingly valuable in Africa.”

Creating a sustainable REI curriculum for the developing world

Historically, most medical and public health interventions have focused on curbing rapid population growth and addressing acute morbidity. As Ethiopia develops, reproductive endocrinology and infertility is becoming increasingly important. 

Humberto Scoccia, MD, and Kristina Pontarelli, PGY3, working with Mekelle University Residents

Under the direction of Dr. Scoccia, UIC provided a one-week intensive REI curriculum, including daily didactics, outpatient REI and adolescent gynecology evaluations, simulations and hands-on surgical and ultrasound. Lectures were intensive and involved discussions about locally available diagnostic and standard of care options. In the outpatient clinic, Dr. Scoccia supervised the evaluation and management of a wide variety of patients, including a patient with androgen insensitivity syndrome, Müllerian agenesis, recurrent pregnancy loss, and infertility. Dr Scoccia also worked with residents in preoperative evaluation and patient counseling and provided surgical hands-on training and mentorship to senior residents in hysteroscopy, laparoscopy, chromopertubation, hysterosalpingogram, and saline infused sonography.

UIC OB/GYN residents gain valuable global women’s health experience

Third-year residents Dr. Harrison and Dr. Pontarelli travelled to Mekelle University where they helped lead Labor and Delivery rounds, and designed a labor and delivery multidisciplinary service sign-out system to facilitate patient care.

PGY3 Rachel Harrison and Mekelle University PGY4s updating sign-out board

“Ethiopia lacks many of the diagnostic and clinical resources available in the USA,” says Pontarelli, whose interests include patient compliance in prenatal screening and care.

"That said, it’s impressive what providers are able to offer with available resources.”

While on the ground, Pontarelli and Harrison assisted operative vaginal deliveries and surgeries including cesarean-section after protracted labor, post-cesarean re-exploration in a septic patient, and fistula surgeries. Harrison also worked with Dr. Yibrah Zelelew, Department Chair of OB/GYN at Mekelle University, to develop a high-risk obstetric rotation schedule and content for curriculum.

PGY3 Kristina Pontarelli in surgery with Mekelle University faculty and resients

“The residents are motivated and ready to incorporate standards common in the US,” says Harrison, a future MFM Specialist.

UIC and Mekelle University:  A budding collaboration

The partnership between UIC and Mekelle University dates back to 2015 when the two institutions signed an agreement to assist Mekelle University to strengthen its nascent OB/GYN residency program. The program, which started in 2012, will graduate its first class of OB/GYN Residents in 2016. Dr. Goba has been leading the partnership since 2012.

The collaboration is supported by a grant from the IDP Foundation, a Chicago-based foundation that invests in high-impact education in the US and globally.

Mekelle University is one of the leading university’s in the rapidly growing country and is at the forefront of research and international collaboration. Ayder Referral Hospital, the teaching hospital affiliated with the university, serves a catchment population of 8 million. It has an inpatient capacity of 500 beds and serves more than 100,000 patients every year.

In addition to medicine, Mekelle University houses leading faculties in information technology, engineering, and agricultural sciences. Unique among Ethiopian universities, Mekelle University provides academic opportunities to students from neighboring South Sudan, several of whom are completing OB/GYN residencies alongside Ethiopian peers.

Going forward, UIC will continue to work with Mekelle University to expand the OB/GYN collaboration with the goal of helping Mekelle University become a pre-eminent OB/GYN training program in Ethiopia and the broader region.

Research collaborations on cervical cancer, gender-based and sexual violence, and stillbirth are underway. (14/4)

Two OB/Gyns named among Chicago Top Doctors!

Two of our physicians, Dr. Mary Stephenson and Dr. Humberto Scoccia, were highlighted in the January 2016 issue of Chicago Magazine as being among Chicago's Top Doctors. Honorees were nominated by physicians nationwide who were asked to consider such factors as clinical excellence, bedside manner, education and board certification. Chicago magazine worked with the health care and information research firm Castle Connolly Medical to create the list, which also appears in the 14th edition of America's Top Doctors.




OB/Gyn works with the March of Dimes to reduce premature births

The March of Dimes has chosen the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System as the Illinois site to implement its new program "Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait", designed to reduce preterm delivery. To support this program, UI Health will receive $40,000 a year for three years from the March of Dimes.

Premature delivery, defined as before 37 weeks of gestation - adds significant risk of a host of immediate and lifelong health problems, including developmental delays and, heart and lung problems.

Almost 10 percent of infants born in the U.S. are premature. But among UI Health's largely disadvantaged patient population, the rate is about 15 percent. "The patients we see at UI Health have higher rates of medical and obstetrical complications and so are at higher risk for premature delivery," says Dr. Dimitrios Mastrogiannis, director of maternal-fetal medicine at UI Health and a co-principal investigator on the grant.

As part of this program, all women who call for prenatal care appointments at UI Health and its Mile Square Health Centers - about 2,500 patients annually - will be interviewed to determine their risk for preterm delivery. High risk women will be matched with an advanced practice OB-GYN nurse and a community health worker to care. Women will also be offered classes to learn about healthy pregnancy.

"Providing proper prenatal care can help prevent about half of all premature births," said Beena Peters, associate director of nursing for women and children's health services at UI Health and co-principal investigator on the grant.

Story by: Sharon Parmet


Annual Conference, 2015
Our Annual Conference, “Challenges in OB/Gyn: Pearls for Practice” was a resounding success with over 100 registrants each day to listen to national/international distinguished faculty from across the United States who took multidisciplinary perspectives on patient care in OB/Gyn.

Charles Sumner Bacon Lectureship Distinguished faculty, Dr. Suzie As-Sanie (Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan) described the relationship between chronic pain and endometriosis.  At the culmination of the symposium, Drs. Suzy As-Sanie, Sondra Summers (Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Illinois at Chicago), Anders Mellgren (Colon & Rectal Surgery, University of Illinois at Chicago), William Kobak (Urogynecology, University of Illinois at Chicago), and Heather Moky (Physical Therapy, University of Illinois at Chicago), presented complex cases and discussed different potential ways of treatment and management of their pelvic health issues.

Keynote speaker for the 10th Annual Antonio Scommegna Symposium, Dr. William Kutteh (Clinical Professor, Vanderbilt University) tackled the controversies related to whether or not to treat thrombophilias among women with recurrent pregnancy loss.  Dr. Dana McQueen (Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Fellow, University of Illinois at Chicago) presented on the relationship between chronic endometritis and recurrent pregnancy loss.  Dr. Stagnaro-Green reviewed whether or not to treat thyroid disease in pregnancy.  Dr. Kutteh and Dr. Mary Stephenson (Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility, University of Illinois at Chicago) debated whether IVF/PGS has any utility for recurrent pregnancy loss.

Dr. Lauren Plante (Director of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Drexel University) led the 15th Annual Laird Wilson Perinatal Symposium with an incisive discussion of optimal critical care for obstetrical patients. Our UIC Maternal Fetal Medicine faculty (Dr. Dimitrios Mastrogiannis, Dr. Micaela Della Torre and moderator, Dr. Laura DiGiovanni) were joined by Dr. Sachin Amin (Neonatology, University of Illinois at Chicago) and Dr. Plante to debate ethical issues related to the care and management of periviable pregnancies.

Dr. David O’Malley (Assistant Professor, The Ohio State University), as keynote speaker for the Gynecologic Oncology symposium, detailed issues related to fertility preservation for women with uterine cancer.  Dr. O’Malley, Dr. Rajul Kothari (Gynecologic Oncology, University of Illinois at Chicago), and Dr. Bert Scoccia (Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility, University of Illinois at Chicago), discussed controversial cases of patients with uterine cancer.

Attendees also got a tour of our newly renovated Department at lunch, and many joined us for a wine & cheese event for Alumni and Friends of our Department.

Evaluations were outstanding and we look forward to next year’s Conference, which has been scheduled for October 27-28, 2016.


Mela Project

The Mela Project

At the end of September, 2015, Dr. Mary Stephenson (Department Head), Dr. Humberto Scoccia, Dr. William Kobak, Dr. Dimitrios Mastrogiannis, and Dr. Tamika Alexander, led by Dr. Gelila Goba spent a week in Tigray, Ethiopia as part of the Mela Project.  The goal of the project was to increase the number of OB/Gyns in Ethiopia through resident training at Mekele University. 

In Ethiopia, 10% of births are assisted by a skilled provider—4% by a doctor and 7% by a nurse or midwife. Less than 1% of births were assisted by a Health Extension Workers, and 57% of births were assisted by a relative, or some other person. Twenty-eight percent of births were assisted by a traditional birth attendant, while 4% of births were unattended. Ethiopia also has one of the lowest health workforce densities in the world.  The high proportion of at-home births coupled with the low number of physicians have contributed to one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.

To increase number of OB/Gyns, the government of Ethiopia is undergoing a rapid scale-up of residency training the past 5 years.  The Mela Project was conceived to support Ministry of Health’s efforts in starting an OB/Gyn residency program at Mekele University that will support the education and training of OB/Gyn residents.  This, in turn, will increase the number of OB/Gyns in Ethiopia and reduce maternal mortality. 

The visit in September was to establish a partnership between UIC faculty and Mekele University. Our team of faculty from the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at UIC met with the Dean and President of Mekele University to assess the needs of the University and to determine how the UIC Department of OB/Gyn could make a difference in improving care for women.

Our faculty conducted a boot camp for the Mekele interns to enhance their clinical skills, led teaching rounds and didactics with the residents daily, provided patient care and assisted emergency deliveries at Mekele Hospital.

Mekele residents presented their preliminary research project to the UIC faculty who provided critical feedback and encouragement.  Our Department is seeking to offer an accredited Global Women’s Health resident elective at Mekele to give our residents and opportunity to gain exposure to global women’s health work in a low resource setting.


Fellowship Match!

Two of our residents applied for fellowships this year, and both matched! One of our former fellows also matched! Please join us in congratulating our residents and alumni!


We are also excited to welcome our new MFM fellow, beginning in July, 2015. Dr. Abida Hasan will be joining us as our new MFM fellow.  Dr. Hasan completed medical school at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA, and then transferred to University of Chicago for residency in OBGYN.  She is particularly interested in obesity in pregnancy and pre-eclampsia.

The College of Medicine Robert and Mary Sweeney Faculty Excellence Society


The late Raymond Nester Sweeney, MD ’68 was the son of a policeman who grew up in modest circumstances. He attributed his success as a radiologist to the excellent, affordable education he received at the University of Illinois College of Medicine.In gratitude, he left his medical school alma mater one of the largest estate gifts in University history. His gift was used to establish the Raymond Nester Sweeney, MD ’68 Endowment Fund, which supports medical excellence in all forms at the University of Illinois College of Medicine through student scholarships, educational innovation and support of faculty professorships.To further acknowledge the commitment to excellence demonstrated by Dr. Sweeney through his philanthropy, the College of Medicine has established the Robert and Mary Sweeney Faculty Excellence Society. This society recognizes those all individuals with the prestige of being invested as a named professor or chair within the College of Medicine, its many departments, centers or divisions. Dr. Mary Stephenson was honored at the Annual Society Recognition in April, 2015 as a current named chair holder.



In the news

Dr. Mary Stephenson, professor and head of obstetrics and gynecology, is mentioned in an article in the Wall Street Journal on recurrent miscarriage and research into its causes. Dr. Stephenson established the recurrent pregnancy loss program at UI Health, and is conducting research on genes that may contribute to multiple miscarriages. The article can be read here.


CenteringPregnancy Open House, 2015


centering invite

On Thursday, March 12th, the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology held an open house for our new CenteringPregnancy program in the Center for Women's Health. Over 20 of people attended the open house to learn more about this innovative method of group prenatal care. Dr. Michelle Kominiarek, who has spearheaded bringing Centering to UIC, and Charity Cooper, our Midwife who will be facilitating the groups, described Centering and answered questions about the program.

Centering Groups are starting soon! To learn more, visit the CenteringPregnancy webpage.