Research Assistant Professor, Maternal Child Nursing
Dr. Barbara McFarlin, Research Assistant Professor in the Department
of Maternal Child Nursing, knows the College of Nursing from
inside out. She received all three degrees - BSN, MS, and PhD – from
“One thing I really enjoyed about UIC is that they’re
open to what you want to do. When I was getting my master’s
degree in the midwifery program, I got interested in ultrasound.
The program director helped me find a sponsor, and I went over
to the Obstetrics and Gynecology department, where one of the
maternal fetal medicine physicians took me on and taught me ultrasound.
I did a whole year independent study with him and actually did
three studies besides my master’s thesis.”
Dr. McFarlin’s current research involves using ultrasound
to measure the ripening of the cervix in an effort to detect
and prevent premature labor.
Her innovative research could have broad-ranging effects for
a significant problem that’s getting worse. From 1990 – 2003,
there was a 16% increase in pre-term birth. In Chicago, the
percentage of per-term birth is statistically higher than the
national rate, particularly among African-American women, where
a fifth of all births in 2003 were pre-term. An additional
problem is that 20-25% of all the babies who survive pre-term
birth suffer severe neurological disability.
“I had this idea for several years before I came back
to do my PhD,” Dr. McFarlin explains, “but being
on call, I never had the time to pursue it. When I came back
to UIC, there was no one working in my field, but again, they
were open to me pursuing this line of research. And I found someone
to co-sponsor me at the Beckman Institute in Champaign. The faculty
here are open to new ideas. You don’t see that everywhere.
They encourage and support thinking outside the box.”