A group of young women sit with children in a classroom and everyone's smiling and making peace signs for the camera

Welcome from the Center Director


Dear Prospective Students, Current Students, and Alumni:

To say I am proud of our Maternal and Child Health (MCH) program is an understatement. I have the privilege and pleasure of leading a dynamic team of faculty and staff who are dedicated to developing the next generation of MCH scholars and practitioners.

We are building the future by educating the next generation of local, national, and global public health professionals who will work to ensure that women are healthy before, during, and after pregnancy, and address the physical and mental health needs of women, children, and families across their lifespan. We take great pride in the successes of our alumni, some of whom are profiled on this site. We look forward every year to serving a new cohort of MCH students who come to us eager to learn and participate in a field that has only grown more important in light on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. We take our responsibilities seriously, but we don’t let that stop us from having fun as we work and learn together.

With the awarding of a five-year grant in 2020 from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), our program is recognized as one of 13 MCH Centers of Excellence. We’re thrilled to now have additional resources to help develop MCH enthusiasts into future professionals who will make a difference and be the difference for population and personal health.

If you’re thinking about joining us, I hope you will give us serious consideration.  If you’re currently one of us, we couldn’t be prouder of you. And if you’ve already graduated, keep in touch – we want to know how you are doing, and what you are doing, so we can brag about your accomplishments and give you opportunities to give back.

With my best wishes,


Amita N. Vyas, PhD, MHS
Director, GW Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health
Director, Maternal and Child Health Program


Our Program Philosophy

The GW Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health is committed to improving the health and well-being of women, children, adolescents and families. We’re grounded in a life course perspective as an organizing framework that acknowledges distinct periods in human development and presents both risks and opportunities for interventions. 

Since its inception in 1997, our MCH Program has defined health to include physical, psychosocial, cultural, political, and economic factors. To further advance our mission, our Center of Excellence will integrate and strengthen the program’s current education, research, practice and policy activities, and will develop strategic technical assistance projects to meaningfully support MCH efforts in the DC metropolitan area. 


Core Values and Principles

Our Center of Excellence is firmly rooted in the following values and principles:

  • Integrating ‘learning by doing’ into our student education and training. 
  • Promoting a culture of service that respects the contributions of all members of our MCH community. 
  • Embracing social justice and diversity in our MCH mission. 
  • Creating innovation in ethical evidence-based MCH policy, research, practice, and pedagogy. 

Facilitating Goals

Facilitating goals encompass those activities that support the achievement of our program’s goals and objectives:

  • Maximize diversity and inclusion. 
  • Improve the student experience. 
  • Deepen support of MCH education, research, practice and policy. 
  • Develop and strengthen ties to communities and MCH agencies and organizations locally and nationally. 
  • Support faculty and students. 
  • Strengthen our financing for education, research, and applied public health activities.
  • Develop and strengthen graduates’ relationships.


Diversity and Inclusion

GW’s Milken Institute School of Public Health is committed to addressing diversity and inclusion (D&I). Our school understands that D & I is critical to public health because we are a discipline that advocates for the promotion and protection of health by convening, and understanding people’s lives and their communities. Learn how we’re building an inclusive community and take a look at resources available to students, faculty and staff.


Our Student Population

Here are some facts about the current makeup (as of December 2020) of the student population in the Maternal and Child Health Program:

  • Most students (84%) are between the ages of 21-30
  • About a third (38%) of students identify as White; 36% as Black or African American; 8% as Asian; 6% as Hispanic or Latino; 6% as two or more races or ethnicities; and 6% as non-resident alien
  • The majority (68%) have classified themselves as full-time students, which means they are pursuing 9-12+ credits per fall and spring residential semester and generally are on a path to complete their degrees in five residential semesters. For example: Assuming matriculation in the fall 2021 semester, these students could complete their studies as follows: Fall 2021, spring 2022, summer 2022, fall 2022, spring 2023.


Center Research

The GW Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health is a hub of research activity, conducted by both faculty and students.


Funded Research Interests

Center faculty members are affiliated with the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) and Healthy Policy (HP) Programs. Faculty are involved with research in a variety of areas, including women’s health; contraceptive access and utilization; teen pregnancy prevention; reproductive health; substance use; HIV policy; gender equity; gender-based violence;  prevention of female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C); MCH health services; MCH policy; women’s health policy; promotion of physical activity; digital strategies for promotion of weight management among young adults; and program evaluation and implementation.


Faculty and Student Projects

MCH students can gain research experience in a variety of ways:

  • iMCH Lab research projects offer students special opportunities to work on cutting-edge research projects that have been specially selected by MCH faculty.
  • Working as research assistants with individual MCH faculty, and other faculty from the Department of Prevention and Community Health.
  • All MCH students conduct their own research project in fulfillment of the Culminating Experience (CE) degree requirement. The CE project is completed over the course of two semesters – for example, pre-work (development of a research concept and detailed proposal) might be completed in a fall semester, while execution of the research project, analysis, and presentation of results may take place in the following spring semester.