An assistant research professor with the Public Health Program at University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service has received a three-year, $400,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the health of new mothers in Maine.

Kate Ahrens’ work, which focuses on 90,000 women who were pregnant between 2006 and 2020, will look at the diagnoses and medical care of new mothers up to 24 months after giving birth. That data will be compared to data of women living in rural Maine to those in more urban parts of the state to find where health disparities exist and can be solved.

Ahrens has been researching maternal-child health for more than 10 years. Prior to joining the Muskie School, she was a health scientist in the Office of Population Affairs and a senior service fellow at the National Center for Health Statistics.

The grant, the largest she has received and her first from NIH, will fund her research, as well as the research of two collaborators, one at Yale School of Medicine and one at HealthPartners Institute for Medical Education in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and a USM graduate student working on the project part time.