Mary Dawn Hennessy, PhD, RN
Assistant Professor, Department of Women, Children and Family Health Science
845 S. Damen Ave. (MC802)
Chicago, IL 60612
Education and Training
- McMaster University, BSN, 1996
- Yale University, MSN, 2002
- University of Pennsylvania, PhD, 2008 National Institutes of Health T32 Predoctoral fellowship (T32-NR-007100) Research on Vulnerable Women, Children, and Families
- University of California San Francisco, Postdoctoral fellowship, 2008-2010 National Institutes of Health T32 Postdoctoral Fellowship (T32-NR-07088) Research
Center for Symptom Management
- Summer Genetics Institute, National Institutes of Nursing Research, 2010
My research is focused on maternal nutritional status and its effect on birth and maternal outcomes, specifically focusing on iron metabolism and its disorders. Outcomes of interest include preterm birth and Restless Legs Syndrome. Hepcidin, a newly identified regulator of iron homeostasis, blocks gastrointestinal absorption of iron and lowers circulating iron levels and availability of iron to the placenta, fetus, and maternal circulation. Hepcidin is upregulated by increased inflammation, a condition associated with both preterm birth and Restless Legs Syndrome. My research aims to determine the relationships among iron metabolism, hepcidin, inflammation, and their effects on birth and maternal outcomes. The findings will provide crucial information to clinicians to identify which patients would best respond to iron therapy.
Areas of Interest
- Mechanisms of hepcidin dysregulation in iron metabolism during pregnancy
- Nutritional status and health outcomes
- Genetic predictors of Restless Legs Syndrome and preterm birth
Teaching / Learning
Course coordinator for NURS345 Clinical Concepts and Processes in Women’s and Family Health
Service / Practice
Dr. Hennessy currently reviews grants and abstracts for Sigma Theta Tau International and is a manuscript reviewer for the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, MCN, The American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing, and Nursing for Women’s Health. Dr. Hennessy serves on the College Appointment, Promotion, and Tenure Committee and the Department Advisory committee.
Current Research Support
- Pathways to Preterm Birth: Stress, Inflammation & Cervical Remodeling (2011-2013), UIC Center for Clinical and Translational Science (UL1RR029879) CCTS Pilot Grant Award, Award Number CCTS08011-02.
- Psychological Stress and
Hepcidin: Link to Birth Outcomes (2012), Midwest Nursing Research Society,
New Investigator Seed Grant
Completed Research Support
- A Comparison of Meal Frequency, Macronutrient Intake, and Physical Activity between African American Women In Preterm and Term Labor (2005-2008), Sigma Theta Tau International, Xi Chapter Grant.
- Nutrient and Inflammatory Processes of Preterm Birth (2010-2011), Dean’s Research Fund, University of Illinois at Chicago
Honors and Awards
George H. Miller Chancellor’s Award. University of Illinois at Chicago (2011)
Patricia Smith Christensen Award, Sigma Theta Tau International (2001-2002)
Hennessy, M.D., & Lee, K. (2011). Micronutrient Intake and Anthropometrics in Geographically
Similar Women. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, 40(S85-S119), S88.
Hennessy, M.D., & Lee, K. (2010). Anthropometrics and Macronutrient Intake among Midlife Women. Journal of Women’s Health, 19(3), 615.
Hennessy, M. D., Volpe, S. L., Sammel, M. D., & Gennaro, S. (2010). Skipping meals and less walking among African Americans diagnosed with preterm labor. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 42(2), 147-155.
Gennaro, S., & Hennessy, M. D. (2003). Psychological and physiological stress: impact on preterm birth. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing , 32 (5), 668-675.