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Irene Headen, PhD, MS

Irene Headen

Assistant Professor
Community Health and Prevention
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PhD, Epidemiology, University of California, Berkeley
MS, Epidemiology, University of California, Berkeley
BS, Brain and Cognitive Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Dr. Irene Headen is an Assistant Professor of Black Health in the Department of Community Health and Prevention at the Drexel Dornsife School of Public Health. Her research interests investigate the social and structural determinants of racial/ethnic disparities in adverse pregnancy outcomes. In particular, her work focuses on identifying neighborhood and community factors underlying these disparities and understanding how systems thinking can help translate these factors into multilevel interventions to improve Black maternal health outcomes. Central to Dr. Headen’s work is placing pregnancy within the context of women’s reproductive life course and developing ways to understand how structural racism operates over the life course to create racial/ethnic disparities during this critical window. She uses both epidemiologic and mixed methods approaches to conduct her research.

Dr. Headen received her doctoral degree in Epidemiology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2015 and completed a postdoctoral training fellowship through the Maternal and Child Health Bureau’s Centers of Excellence in Maternal Health Postdoctoral Training Program. She also was a postdoctoral fellow at the Drexel Urban Health Collaborative before joining the faculty in 2019.

Research Interests

  • Community Engaged Research
  • Health Disparities
  • Health and Place
  • Maternal and Child Health
  • Mixed Methods Research
  • Social Determinants of Racial/Ethnic Inequities in Maternal Health
  • Spatial Analysis or GIS
  • Urban Health


Headen I, Laraia B, Coleman-Phox K, Vieten C, Adler N, Epel E. Neighborhood Typology and Cardiometabolic Pregnancy Outcomes in the Maternal Adiposity Metabolism and Stress (MAMAS) Study. Obesity. 2019;27:166-173.

Headen I, Mujahid M, Deardorff J, Rehkopf D, Abrams B. Associations between cumulative neighborhood deprivation, long-term mobility trajectories, and gestational weight gain. Health and Place. 2018;52:101-109.

Obasogie OK, Headen I, Mujahid MS. Race, Law, and Health Disparities: Towards a Critical Race Intervention. Annual Review of Law and Social Science. 2017;13(1):313-329.

Abrams B, Coyle J, Cohen AK, Headen I, Ritchie L, Rehkopf D. Preventing excessive gestational weight gain could reduce maternal obesity at age 40: An analysis of a nationally representative sample. Am J Public Health. 2017; 107(9):1463-1469.

Headen I, Cohen AK, Mujahid M, Abrams B. The accuracy of self-reported, pregnancy-related weight: A Systematic Review. Obesity Reviews. 2017;18(3):350-369.

Rehkopf D, Headen I, Hubbard A, Deardorff J, Kesavan Y, Cohen AK, Patil D, Ritchie L, Abrams B. Adverse childhood experiences and later life adult obesity and smoking in the United States. Ann Epidemiol. 2016;26(7): 488-92.e5.

Cohen AK, Kazi C, Headen I, Rehkopf DH, Hendrick E, Patil D, Abrams B. Educational attainment and gestational weight gain among US mothers. Women’s Health Issues.2016;26(4):460-467.

Ranchod Y, Headen I, Petitio LC, Deardorff JK, Rehkopf DH, Abrams BF. Maternal childhood adversity, prepregnancy obesity and gestational weight gain. Am J Prev Med. 2016;50(4):463-9.

Headen I, Mujahid MS, Cohen AK, Rehkopf DH, Abrams B. Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Inadequate Gestational Weight Gain Differ by Pre-pregnancy Weight. Maternal and Child Health Journal. 2015. 19(8):1672-86.

Headen I, Davis EM, Mujahid MS, Abrams BA. Racial-Ethnic Differences in Pregnancy-Related Weight. Advances in Nutrition. 2012 Jan;3(1)83-94.