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Venture Café

Innovation in Maternal Health

Thursday, Mar 24, 2022 | 3:00 PM-8:00 PM
Two women chatting in front of a colorful speech bubble mural wall at Venture Cafe

This Venture Café Thursday Gathering will examine racial disparities and inequities faced during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum through the lens of industry experts, entrepreneurs, innovators and those with lived experiences.

3:00 - 4:00PM

Doula 101

What is a doula and what do they do? Join us for this session led by Zawadi Doula Services to find out how a doula can provide assistance before, during and after childbirth.


4:00 - 6:00PM

Conversation Corner: Family Building

Building a family can take many pathways. Whether male infertility or no male partner is part of that equation, donor insemination can play a role. Join this conversation facilitated by Michelle Ottey, Managing Director of CIC and consulting Director Laboratory Director at FairFax Cryobank, that explores the lived experiences of family building.


4:00 - 5:00PM

NIH Technology Accelerator Challenge for Maternal Health Info Session

Maternal health is in crisis globally and here in the United States. Rates of maternal morbidity and mortality are higher in the U.S. than in any other developed nation, with severe racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in maternal health outcomes persisting across the country. The NIH Technology Accelerator Challenge for Maternal Health is offering up to $1 million in cash prizes to spur and reward the development of prototypes for low-cost, point-of-care molecular, cellular, and/or metabolic sensing and diagnostic technologies that could ultimately be used to diagnose and prevent the primary conditions associated with maternal morbidity and mortality.

  • Dr. Ilana Goldberg, Program Director
  • Dr. C. Taylor Gilliland, Senior Advisor for Innovation Programs, Office of the Director at NIBIB


5:00 - 6:00PM

Think Tank: Innovation to Decrease Maternal Mortality

Over the past two decades, the US has seen an increase in maternal mortality by 50-70. In Philadelphia, the Maternal Mortality Review Committee’s 2020 Report highlighted that Non-Hispanic Black Women Represent 73% of Pregnancy-Related Deaths in Philadelphia. We’ll explore how innovation can decrease the trend with our Trend ThinkTank Panelists:

  • Moderator: Tif Wilson, President & CEO of the Science Center
  • Jacquelyn Caglia, Director of Learning, Communications and U.S. Programs, Merck for Mothers
  • Dr. Seun Ross, Director of Health Equity, Independence Blue Cross
  • Stefanie T. Modri, RN, MSN, C-MNN, Co-founder of Vasowatch
  • Marianne Fray, Chief Executive Officer, Maternity Care Coalition


6:00 - 7:00PM

Trend Think Tank: Focus on Maternal Mental Health

Mental health issues are the most common complications of pregnancy and childbirth, affecting approximately 1 in 5 parents during pregnancy or the first year after being pregnant. Maternal Mental Health issues include a range of disorders and symptoms, including but not limited to depression, anxiety and psychosis. When left untreated these disorders can cause devastating consequences for the mother, her baby, her family and society. This panel focuses on some of the major causes of Maternal Mental Health issues and ways that innovators are working to address them.

Think Tank Panelists:
  • Dr. Jenny Starosta, Clinical Psychologist
  • Kyana Brathwaite, CEO of KB CALS, Caring Advocacy & Services Liaison
  • Kirthika Parmeswaran, CEO of Vital Start
  • AnnMarie Graziadio, Senior Medical Science Sage Therapeutics


6:00 - 8:00PM

Demo Tables Highlight Maternal Health Focused Start-Ups and Community Resources

Meet startups and community organizations innovating in and transforming maternal health:

  • Pippy Sips
  • Vital Start
  • Lia Diagnostics
  • Vasowatch
  • Maternity Care Coalition/MOMmobile
  • MotherButter
  • Zawadi Doula Services
  • The Priceless Woman and Magic Vsteam


7:00 - 8:00PM

Conversation Corner: Lived Experiences

Small group conversation with people sharing their lived experiences relating to maternal health. Led by Jenne Johns.


7:00- 8:00PM

Futures Lab: Maternal Health in 2050

Join us for a special workshop to brainstorm and investigate potential futures in maternal health. Why should we design for the future? Futures thinking isn't meant to make any predictions, but rather reveal the many possible and probable futures that could be. This type of thinking exercise allows us to examine the implications of present-day issues to gain new perspectives and context for decision making strategies


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