Department of Women Children and Family Health Science
Lillian Runnerstrom Institute of Excellence in the Study of
Women, Children, and Family Health
of Women Children and Family Health Science has a stellar history
of commitment and excellence in educating nurses and has been
influential in expanding and improving health care for women,
children, and families nationally and internationally. Started
in 1972, Dr. Lillian Runnerstrom spearheaded the initiation of
the first graduate program for the department, the nurse-midwifery
program. The first in Illinois, it is currently the only nurse-midwifery
program within the state and is ranked first in the country.
Dr. Runnerstrom's leadership laid a strong foundation for the program and ultimately for the entire department. Since 1972, the department has graduated more than 500 nurse-midwives and developed and implemented five other graduate programs: the women's health nurse practitioner, the pediatric nurse practitioner, neonatal nurse practitioner program and the pediatric and perinatal clinical nurse specialist. The students and faculty have delivered over 12,000 babies!
Our faculty excel in teaching, clinical practice, and research.
A testimony to their excellence is the high volume of publications,
not only faculty publications, but also graduate student publications.
Our graduates are highly sought for their clinical and research
expertise and have made major contributions to the profession
and health care policy.
To maintain a high level of faculty productivity and to remain
the leader in research on women, children and families, the department
is in critical need of resources for both faculty and students
to support our work and future goals. If you would like to contribute
to the Institute, you can make a gift online or contact:
Barbara McFarlin, PhD, CNM, RDMS, FACNM
Associate Professor and Interim Department Head
Phone: (312) 996-0516
Endowments are essential for sustaining the momentum we have
developed and will continue to enhance the growth and development
of faculty. An endowed chair will enable faculty to conduct
research, mentor graduate students, disseminate findings,
and lead our profession into the 21st century and beyond. The
to conduct cutting edge research translates into the need
for state of the art equipment for collection of physiologic
neurocognitive data, funds for the collection of neurohormonal
data and laboratory assays, state of the art computerized
equipment for collection and storage of data, as well as laboratory
for research teams.
Midwifery and Women’s Health
Midwifery and women’s health care faculty conduct research
in the neurohormonal responses of women to alternative methods
of pain management during birth, the process of lactation, lactation
support, and developing models of preventive health care for
women throughout the life span.
The faculty also actively participate in health education and
research in Eastern Europe and Africa. Support is critical for
developing and implementing preventive health care practices
for women and their children in third world countries
Pediatric and Perinatal
Research of the pediatric and perinatal faculty includes understanding
the parental experience of early perinatal loss as well as
adolescent parenting for inner city African American fathers.
Faculty are engaged in cutting edge research on cardiovascular
risk factors in adolescents with diabetes and obesity. Our
goal is to reach beyond identification of responses and risk
factors to the development and implementation of intervention
that will ultimately improve health and development of children
Infancy research within the department has been ongoing since
1983. Earlier research identified maternal and premature
infant behavioral responses to intervention aimed at improving
and development. Current research is unlocking the key to
our understanding of neurohormonal responses of infants and their
mothers to developmental intervention. Research has also
to understand the development of communication in premature
Our family health research encompasses how families make decisions
regarding genetic testing and manage chronic illness as well
as sibling response to chronic illness. Faculty also conduct
research on intergenerational responses to teenage pregnancy.
Many of our students are highly capable of but require financial
assistance to enroll in the graduate program. Women are often
challenged by the need to fulfill multiple roles. They are
often enmeshed in the tasks of raising and nurturing their
children while simultaneously supporting them financially.
Scholarships are essential and allow them the opportunity
to work part time instead of full time while in graduate school.
Scholarships are needed for our master and doctoral students
- Women’s Health
- Infancy Studies
International Student Award
Our international students face additional
obstacles when they elect to study in the United States. We
to our international students as well as to advancing the
women and children around the world. We are proud of
our achievements and of our graduates when they return
when they serve to improve health of women, children,
and families around the world.
As our faculty further develop their programs of research and
conduct multiple projects simultaneously, the need has developed
for additional space, computer hardware and software, as well
as funds for research team support. A dedicated research center
will provide stability for research teams, space for the members
of the team, and meeting rooms for conferences.