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Deborah B. Nelson

Deborah B. Nelson, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Director, Graduate Studies
Director, Maternal and Child Health Wellness Lab
Director, Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Co-Director, MS in Clinical Research and Translational Medicine Program


1301 Cecil B. Moore Avenue
Ritter Annex, 9th floor (004-09)
Philadelphia, PA  19122
Office: 215-204-9659
Fax: 215-204-1854


  • University of Pittsburgh, PhD in Epidemiology 1998
  • State University of New York at Albany, MS in Epidemiology 1991



Dr. Deborah B. Nelson is a reproductive epidemiologist with NIH-funded research focusing on early pregnancy exposures among urban women and adverse pregnancy outcomes. In particular, Dr. Nelson examines chronic sexually associated conditions, environmental stressors, genetic predisposition, and behavioral factors which influence adverse pregnancy outcomes including spontaneous preterm delivery, miscarriage, preterm labor and pelvic inflammatory disease. Dr. Nelson is an Associate Professor of Public Health and Obstetrics/Gynecology in the Department of Public Health, College of Public Health.

Dr. Nelsons’ research projects include a large prospective cohort study designed to examine the role of first and second trimester bacterial vaginosis (BV) and BV-associated bacteria and the risk of spontaneous preterm delivery and miscarriage among women receiving prenatal care in Philadelphia, a study examining the role of several exposures during pregnancy (i.e. cigarette use, alcohol use and violence) and childhood overweight, a case-control study examining the association between inter-personal violence, indicators of community violence and stress on the odds of miscarriage, and a clinic-based cohort examining factors related to risk of unintended pregnancy among young, urban women.

Dr. Nelson has published over 65 manuscripts in the area of women’s health and reproduction and co-authored a book chapter on Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.

Course Involvement

Syllabi for all courses taught at Temple


Epidemiologic Research Methods I (PH5201)

Epidemiogloic Research Methods II (PH8202)

Social Determinants of Health (PH8011)

Master directed research (PH9996)

PhD directed research (PH9998)


Select Publications

Click here for full CV

65. Lenhart CM, Patterson F, Brown MD, O’Brien MJ, Nelson DB. Disparity in physical activity among urban youth: An ecologically-guided assessment Am J Heath Education 2014 (in press)

64. Nelson DB, Hanlon A, Nachamkin I, Komaroff E , Haggarty CL, Mastrogiannis DS, Dibble L, Sears J, Liu C, Fredricks D. Early Pregnancy Changes in Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)-associated Bacteria and Preterm Birth. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology 2013 (in press)
63. Nelson DB, Komaroff E, Nachamkin I, Dibble L, Armendariz V, Liu C, Fredricks D. Relationship of Selected Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)-Associated Microbiota to BV Positivity among Urban Women Early in Pregnancy. Sexually Transmitted Disease 2013 (in press)
62. Nelson DB, Lepore SJ. The Role of Stress, Depression and Childhood Violence on Unintended Pregnancy among Young Urban Women. Journal of Women’s Health 2013 (in press)
61. Seravalli L, Patterson F, Nelson DB. Role of Perceived Stress on the Occurrence of Preterm Labor and Preterm Birth among Urban Women. Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health 2013 (in press)
60. Herring SJ, Nelson DB, Pien G, Homko C, Goetzel LM, Davey A, Foster GD. Objectively-measured sleep duration and hyperglycemia in pregnancy. Sleep Med 2013 (in press)
59. Herring SJ, Foster GD, Pien G, Massa K, Nelson DB, Davey A. Do Pregnant Women Accurately Report Their Sleep Time? A comparison between self-reported and objective measures of sleep duration among a sample of urban mothers. Sleep and Breathing 2013 (in press)
58. Mitchell C, Gottsch M, Liu C, Fredricks DN, Nelson DB. Associations between Vaginal Bacterial Colonization and Levels of Vaginal Defensins in Pregnant Women. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2012 (in press)
57. Patterson F, Seravalli L, Hanlon A, Nelson DB. Neighborhood Safety as a Correlate of Tobacco Use in a Sample of Urban, Pregnant Women. Addictive Behaviors 2012; 37:1132-1137
56. Herring S, Nelson DB, Davey A, Klotz A, Dibble L, Oken E, Foster GM. Determinants of Excessive Gestational Weight Gain among Urban, Low-income Pregnant Women: Implications for Obesity Prevention Interventions. Journal of Women’s Health Issues 2012;22(5):e439-46
55. Mateja W, Nelson DB, Kroelinger CD, Ruzek SB and Segal J. The Association between Maternal Alcohol Use and Smoking in Early Pregnancy and Congenital Cardiac Defects. Journal of Women’s Health. 2012;21(1):26-34.
 54. Nelson DB, Sammel M, Patterson F, Lin H, Gracia C and Freeman E. Effects of Reproductive History on Symptoms of Menopause: A Brief Report. Menopause. 2011;18(10)1143-1148
53. Nelson DB, Usher-Pines L, Grisso JA, Childhood Violence and Long-term Behavioral Effects Among Urban Pregnant Women.Journal of Women’s Health. 2010;19(6):1177-83
52. Friedenberg FK, Rai J, Vanar V, Bongiorno C, Nelson DB, Parepally M, Poonia A, Sharma A, Gohel S, and Richter JE. Prevalence and Risk Factors for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease in an Impoverished Minority Population. Obes Res Clinc Pract. 2010; 4(4):e261-e269.
51.Macones GA, Parry S, Nelson DB, Strauss JF, Ludmir J, Cohen AW, Stamilio DM, Applyby D, Clothier B, Sammel MD and Jeffcoat M. Treatment of Localized Periodontal Disease in Pregnancy Does Not Reduce the Occurrence of Preterm Birth: Results From the Periodontal Infections and Prematurity Study (PIPS). American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2010; 202(2):147.e1-8.
50. Usher-Pines L*, Nelson DB. Neighborhood and Individual-Level Violence and Unintended Pregnancy. Journal of Urban Health. 2010; 87(4):677-687.
49. Short VL, Jensen JS, Nelson DB, Murray P, Ness RB and Haggerty CL. Mycoplasma genitalium in early pregnancy is not associated with spontaneous abortion among young women recruited from an urban emergency department. Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2010; 984160,2010.
48.Friedenberg FF, Hanlon A, Vanar V, Nehemia D, Mekapati J, Nelson DB and Richter JE. National Trends in Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease as Measured by the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. Digestive Diseases and Sciences. 2009 (In press)
47. Nelson DB, Hanlon A, Hassan S, Britto J, Geifman-Holtzman O, Haggerty C and Fredricks DN. Preterm Labor and Bacterial Vaginosis-associated Bacteria among Urban Women Journal of Perinatal Medicine. 2009; 37:130-134.
46. Usher-Pines L, Hanlon AL and Nelson DB. Racial Differences in bacterial vaginosis and Pregnant Women: The Relationship between Demographic and behavioral Predictors and Individual BV-Related Microorganism Levels. Maternal and Child Health Journal. 2009; 13(4):12-19
45. Cassilly DW, Wang R, Friedenberg FK, Nelson DB, Maurer AH, and Parkman HP. Symptoms of Gastroparesis. Use of the Gastroparesis Cardinal Index in Patients Referred for Gastric Emptying Scintigraphy. Digestion. 2008; 78(2-3):144-51.
44. Ness RB, Soper DE, Richter HE, Randall H, Peipert JF, Nelson DB, Schubeck D, McNeeley SG, Trout W, Bass DC, Hutchison K, Kip K, and Brunham RC. Chlamydia antibodies, Chlamydia heat shock protein, and adverse sequelae after pelvic inflammatory disease: the PID Evaluation and Clinical Health (PEACH) Study. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. 2008; 35(2):129-135.
43. Gomez LM, Ma Y, Ho C, McGrath CM, Nelson DB, and Parry S. Placental Infection with Human Papillomavirus Is Associated with Spontaneous Preterm Delivery. Human Reproduction. 2008; 23(3):709-715.
42. Friedenberg FK*, Palit A, Parkman HP, Hanlon A, Bohning M, and Nelson DB. Botulinum Toxin A for the Treatment of Delayed Gastric Emptying. American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2008; 103(2):416-423.
41. Nelson DB, Sammel MD, Freeman EW, Lin H, Gracia CR, Mogul M, and Schmitz KH. Effect of Physical Activity on Menopausal Symptoms among Urban Women. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2008; 40(1):50-58.
40. Arechavaleta-Velasco F, Gomez L,Ma Y,Zhao J,McGrath CM, Sammel MD, Nelson DB, Parry S. Adverse Reproductive Outcomes In Urban Women With Adeno-Associated Virus-2 Infections In Early Pregnancy.Human Reproduction 2008;23(1):29-36.
39. Trautmann GM, Kip KE, Richter HE, Randal H, Soper DE, Peipert JF, Nelson DB, Schubeck D, McNeeley G, Bass DC, Ness RB. Do Short-term markers of treatment efficacy predict long-term sequelae of PID? American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2008; 198(1):31-37.
38. Nelson DB, Bellamy S, Clothier BA, Macones GA, Nachamkin I, Ruffin A, Allen-Taylor L. Characteristics and Pregnancy Outcomes of Pregnant Women Asymptomatic for Bacterial Vaginosis. Maternal and Child Health Journal. 2008; 12(2):216-222.
37. Freeman EW, Sammel MD, Line H, Gracia CR, Pien GW, Nelson DB, Sheng L. Symptoms Associated with Menopausal Transition and Reproductive Hormones in Midlife Women. Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2007; 110(2):230-240.
36. Schmitz KA, Lin H, Sammel MD, Gracia CR, Nelson DB, Kapoor S, DeBlasis TL, Freeman EW. Association of Physical Activity with Reproductive Hormones: The Penn Ovarian Aging Study. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. 2007; 16(10):2042-2047.
35. Datner EM, Wiebe DJ, Brensinger C and Nelson DB. Identifying Pregnant Women Experiencing Domestic Violence in an Urban Emergency Department. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 2007; 22(1):124-135.
34. Nelson DB, Bellamy S, Nachamkin I, Ness RB and Allen-Taylor L. First Trimester Bacterial Vaginosis, Individual Microorganism Levels and Risk of Second Trimester Pregnancy Loss among Urban Women. Fertility and Sterility. 2007; 88(5):1396-1403.
33. Nelson DB, Bellamy S, Odibo AO, Nachamkin I, Ness RB and Allen-Taylor, L. Vaginal Symptoms and Bacterial Vaginosis(BV): How Useful is Self-Report? Development of a Scoring System for Prediction BV Status. Epidemiology and Infection. 2007; 135(8):1369-1375.
32. Sarwer DB, Allison KC, Gibbons LM, Tuttman-Makrowitz J and Nelson DB. Pregnancy and Obesity: A Review and Agenda for Future Research. Journal of Women’s Health. 2006; 15(6):720-733.
31. Odibo, A, Nelson DB, Stamilio D, Sehdev H and Macones GA. Advanced Maternal Age Is An Independent Risk Factor for Intrauterine Growth Restriction. American Journal of Perinatology. 2006; 23(5):325-328
30. Freeman EW, Sammel MD, Lin H, Nelson DB. Association of Hormones and Menopausal Status with Depressed Mood in Women with No History of Depression. Archives of General Psychiatry. 2006; 63(4):375-382.
29. Nelson DB. Treatment and Management of Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) in Pregnancy. Women’s Health. 2006; 2(2):267-275
28. Odibo AO, Stamilio DM, Nelson DB, Sehdev HM and Macones GA. A Cost Effectiveness Analysis of Prenatal Screening Strategies for Down Syndrome. Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2005; 106(3):562-568.
27. Coassolo KM, Stamilio DM, Paré E, Peipert JF, Stevens E, Nelson DB and Macones GA. Safety and Efficacy of Vaginal Birth after Cesarean Attempts at or Beyond 40 Weeks Gestation. Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2005; 106(4):700-706.
26. Cahill A, Stamilio DM, Paré E, Peipert JP, Stevens EJ, Nelson DB, Macones GA. Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) Attempt in Twin Pregnancies: Is It Safe? American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2005; 193(3 Pt 2):1050-1055.
25. Ness RB, Trautmann G, Richter HE, Randall H, Peipert JF, Nelson DB, Schubeck D, McNeeley SG, Trout W, Babb DC and Soper DE. Effectiveness of Treatment Strategies of Some Women with Pelvic Inflammatory Disease: A Randomized Trial. Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2005; 106(3):573-580.
24. Macones GA, Peipert J, Nelson DB, Odibo A, Stevens EJ, Stamilio DM, Pare E, Elovitz M, Sciscione A, Sammel MD and Ratcliffe SJ. Maternal Complications with Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Delivery: A Multicenter Study. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2005; 193(5): 1656-1662.
23. Gracia CR, Freeman EW, Sammel MD, Lan H, Kapoor S and Nelson DB. The Relationship between Obesity and Race on Inhibin B During the Menopausal Transition. Menopause. 2005; 12(5):559-66.
22. Gracia CR, Sammel MD, Freeman EW, Liu H, Langan E, Kapoor S and Nelson DB. Defining Menopausal Status: Creation of a New Definition to Identify the Early Changes of the Menopausal Transition. Menopause. 2005; 12(2):117-120
21. Freeman EW, Sammel MD, Gracia CR, Kapoor S, Liu H and Nelson DB. Follicular Phase Hormone Levels and Menstrual Bleeding Status in the Approach to Menopause. Fertility and Sterility. 2005; 83(2):383-392.
20. Nelson DB, Sammel MD, Freeman EW, Gracia CR, Liu L and Langan E. Tubal Ligation Does Not Affect Hormonal Changes During the Early Menopausal Transition. Contraception. 2005; 71(2):104-110.
19. Haggerty CL, Peipert JF, Weitzen S, Hendrix SL, Holley RL, Nelson DB, Randall H, Soper DE, Wiesenfeld HC and Ness RB. Predictors of Chronic Pelvic Pain in an Urban Population of Women with Symptoms and Signs of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. 2005: 32(5):293-299.
18. Ness RB, Randall H, Richter H, Peipert J, Montagno A, Soper DE, Sweet RL, Nelson DB, et al. Condom Use and the Risk of Recurrent Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, Chronic Pelvic Pain, or Infertility Following an Episode of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. American Journal of Public Health. 2004; 94(8): 1327-1329.
17. Gracia CR, Sammel MD, Freeman EW, Liu L, Hollander L and Nelson DB. Predictors of Decreased Libido in Women during the Late Reproductive Years. Menopause. 2004; 11(2): 144-150.
16. Freeman EW, Sammel MD, Liu L, Gracia CR, Nelson DB, Hollander L. Hormones and Menopausal Status as Predictors of Depression in Women in the Transition to Menopause. Archives of General Psychiatry. 2004; 61(1): 62-70.
15. Nelson DB, Sammel MD, Freeman EW, Liu L, Langan E and Gracia CR. Predicting Participation in Prospective Studies of Ovarian Aging. Menopause. 2004; 11(5):543-548.
14. Sammel MD, Grisso JA, Freeman EW, Hollander L, Liu L, Nelson DB and Battistini M. Weight Gain among Women in the Late Reproductive Years. Family Practice. 2003; 20(4): 401-409.
13. Nelson DB, Grisso JA, Joffe MM, Brensinger C, McMahon K, Shaw L and Datner E. Does Violence Influence Early Pregnancy Loss? Fertility and Sterility. 2003; 80(5):1205-1211.
12. Modugno F, Moslehi R, Ness RB, Nelson DB, Belle S, Kant J, Wheeler J, Wonderlick A, Fishman D, Karlan B, Risch H, Cramer D, Dube M and Narod S. Reproductive Factors and Ovarian Cancer Risk in Jewish BRCA1 and BRCA2 Mutation Carriers. Cancer Causes and Control. 2003; 14(5): 439-446.
11. Nelson DB, Grisso JA, Joffe, MM, Brensinger C, Shaw L and Datner E. Does Stress Influence Early Pregnancy Loss? Annals of Epidemiology. 2003; 13(4): 223-229.
10. Nelson DB, McMahon K, Joffe M and Brensinger C. The Effect of Depressive Symptoms and Optimism on the Risk of Spontaneous Abortion among Inner-City Women. Journal of Women’s Health. 2003; 12(6): 569-576.
9. Nelson DB, Bellamy S, Gray TS and Nachamkin I. Self-Collected vs. Provider-Collected Vaginal Swabs for the Diagnosis of Bacterial Vaginosis: An Assessment of Validity and Reliability. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. 2003; 56: 862-866.
8. Nelson DB and Macones G. Bacterial Vaginosis in Pregnancy: Current Findings and Future Directions. Epidemiologic Reviews. 2002:24: 102-108.
7. Nelson DB, Ness RB, Grisso JA and Cushman M. Sex Hormones, Hemostasis and Early Pregnancy Loss. Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics. 2002; 267(1): 7-10.
6. Nelson DB, Ness RB, Grisso JA and Cushman M. Influence of Hemostatic Factors on Spontaneous Abortion. American Journal of Perinatology. 2001; 18(4):195-201.
5. Ness RB and Nelson DB. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. In: Goldman MB, Hatch MC, eds. Women and Health. San Diego, CA: Academic Press. 2000:369-380.
4. Nelson DB, Ness RB, Peipert JF, Soper DE, Amortegui AM, Gluck J, et al. Factors Predicting Upper Genital Tract Inflammation Among Women with Lower Genital Tract Infection. Journal of Women’s Health. 1998; 7(8):1033-1040.
3. Nelson DB, Kotranski, L, Semaan S, Collier K, Lauby J, Feighan K and Halbert J. The Validity of Self-Reported Opiate and Cocaine Use by Out-of-Treatment Drug Users. Journal of Drug Issues.1998; 28(2):483-494.
2. Ness RB, Nelson DB, Kumanyika SK and Grisso JA. Evaluating Minority Recruitment into Clinical Studies: How Good are the Data? Annals of Epidemiology. 1997; 7(7):472-478.
1. Liebman J, Brooks D, Bonilla L and Kotranski L. Utilization of HIV Antibody Testing by Out-of-Treatment Drug Users. Journal of Drug Issues. 1996; 26(4):679-693.

Grants & Contracts

Active Support:

  1. BV-associated Bacteria and Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes Among Urban Women (5 R01 HD038856-07), PI: Nelson; 2008-2012.
  2. Factors Predicting Unintended Pregnancy among Young, Urban Women (1 R21 HD071200), PI: Nelson, 2012-2015.

Previous Support:

  1. The Role of Stress Inducible Genes in Preclampsia.  Pennsylvania Department of Public Health Tobacco Settlement Funds; Co-Investigator:  Nelson; 2009-2010.
  2. Bacteria Vaginosis and Spontaneous Abortion Among Urban Wome (R01 HD38856-01A1); PI: Nelson; 2001-2008.
  3. Violence and Spontaneous Abortion in Inner City Woman (R01-HD36918); PI: Nelson; 1998-2005.
  4. The Role of Exposures During Gestation and Subsequent Child Health: In-Utero Exposures and Childhood Overweight. Pennsylvania Department of Public Health Tobacco Settlement Funds; Pi:  Nelson; 2006-2008.


Maternal-Child Health
Womens’ Health

Clinical Interests

Obstetrics Outcomes such as SPTB, PTL and miscarrriage

Gynecologic Outcomes such as PID and infertility

Womens Health.