Dara D Mendez, PhD, MPH

Assistant Professor, Epidemiology


5130 Public Health, 130 DeSoto Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15261
R-znvy: qqz66@cvgg.rqh
Primary Phone: 967-193-0119
Fax: 967-179-2842
Web site:

Terri Washington, gyj71@cvgg.rqh, 967-179-8574

Personal Statement

My research program explores the role of social context in determining outcomes related to pregnancy, birth and women's health.  I specifically apply frameworks and approaches focused on the social determinants of health equity (and health disparities).  I employ novel methods to measure and understand neighborhood environments, various forms of racism (including institutional and structural racism) and social stress.


2002 | Spelman College, Atlanta, GA | B.A.

2005 | University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC | M.P.H. (Maternal and Child Health)

2005 | University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC | Interdisciplinary Certificate in Health Disparities

2009 | University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC | Ph.D. (Maternal and Child Health, minor in Epidemiology; specialization in Perinatal Epidemiology)


Social Epidemiology

Women's Health Epidemiology; Research Seminar in Reproductive/Perinatal/Pediatric Epidemiology

Overview of Health Equity; Research Methods in Health Equity


2017-2022 | NIH, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

Postpartum weight retention and cardiometabolic disparities: The effects of contextual, psychosocial, and behavioral factors (R01 HL135218-01). Role: PI.


2013-2017 | NIH, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

Real Time Data Collection with Adaptive Sampling and Innovative Technologies (5R01HL107370), Diversity Supplement. Role: PI of Diversity Supplement to R01 (PI: LE Burke), Co-I.


2015 | Academy Health/Aetna Foundation Scholars in Residence Fellowship. Role: PI.


2014-2015 | University Center for Social and Urban Research, University of Pittsburgh, Steven Manners Faculty Development Award. The development of a measure of neighborhood wellbeing for Pittsburgh neighborhoods. Role: PI (Co-PI: Fabio).


2012-2015 | The Aetna Foundation

Neighborhood environment and racial disparities in maternal obesity, infant mortality, and preterm birth. Role: PI.

Service Activities

Advisory Board, Women Engaged

Member, Infant Mortality Strategic Planning Committee, Allegheny County Health Department

Editorial Board, Women’s Reproductive Health Journal

Editorial Board, Maternal and Child Health Journal

Reviewer, International Journal of Health Geographics

Reviewer, American Journal of Public Health

Reviewer, Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities

Community Research Advisory Board, University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Health Equity

Volunteer, Community Connections, Ellis School

Volunteer, Investing NOW

Member, Kellogg Foundation Birth Outcomes Think Tank

Professional Interests

Maternal and Child Health (Pregnancy and Birth Outcomes)

Women’s Health

Health Equity

Epidemiology (Social and Perinatal)

Program Assessment and Evaluation

Geospatial Methods


Community-Partnered and Driven Research Approaches



Selected Publications

  1. Goode RW, Styn MA, Mendez DD, Gary-Webb TL. African Americans in Standard Behavioral Treatment for Obesity, 2001-2015. Western Journal of Nursing Research. 2017 Feb 1. [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 28322668.
  2. Mendez DD, Thorpe RJ, Amutah N, Davis EM, Walker RE, Chapple-McGruder T, Bodnar L. Neighborhood racial composition and poverty in association with pre-pregnancy weight and gestational weight gain. Social Science and Medicine - Population Health. 2016 Dec;2:692-99. doi.org/10.1016/j.ssmph.2016.09.008.
  3. Mendez DD, Gary-Webb TL, Goode R, Zheng Y, Imes CC, Fabio A, Duell J, Burke LE. Neighborhood factors and six-month weight change among overweight individuals in a weight loss intervention. Preventive Medicine Reports. 2016 Oct 20;4:569-573. PMID: 27818916.
  4. Mendez DD, Kim KH, Hardaway CR, Fabio A. Neighborhood Racial and Socioeconomic Disparities in the Food and Alcohol Environment: Are There Differences by Commercial Data Sources? Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. 2016 Mar;3(1):108-16. PMID: 26896110.
  5. Mendez DD, Duell J, Reiser S, Martin D, Gradeck R, Fabio A. A methodology for combining multiple commercial data sources to improve measurement of the food and alcohol environment: applications of geographical information systems. Geospatial Health. 2014 Nov;9(1):71-96. PMID: 25545927.
  6. Cassell CH, Strassle P, Mendez DD, Lee KA, Krohmer A, Meyer RE, Strauss RP. Barriers to care for children with orofacial clefts in North Carolina. Birth Defects Research. Part A, Clinical and Molecular Teratology. 2014 Nov;100(11):837-47. PMID: 25200965.
  7. Mendez DD, Burke JG, Jones JR, Salter C. Perspectives From Community-Based Doulas and Mothers: Neighborhood Context and Pregnancy. Journal of Health Disparities Research and Practice. 2014;7(4):91-106.
  8. Mendez DD, Hogan VK, Culhane JF. Institutional racism, neighborhood factors, stress, and preterm birth. Ethnicity and Health. 2014;19(5):479-99. PMID: 24134165.
  9. Cassell CH, Krohmer A, Mendez DD, Lee KA, Strauss RP, Meyer RE. Factors associated with distance and time traveled to cleft and craniofacial care. Birth Defects Research. Part A, Clinical and Molecular Teratology. 2013 Oct;97(10):685-95. PMID: 24039055.
  10. Mendez DD, Doebler DA, Kim KH, Amutah NN, Fabio A, Bodnar LM. Neighborhood socioeconomic disadvantage and gestational weight gain and loss. Maternal and Child Health Journal. 2014 Jul;18(5):1095-103. PMID: 24026397.   
  11. Mendez DD, Hogan VK, Culhane JF. Stress during pregnancy: the role of institutional racism. Stress and Health Journal. 2013 Oct;29(4):266-74. PMID: 23055409.
  12. Mendez DD, Hogan VK, Culhane J. Institutional racism and pregnancy health: using Home Mortgage Disclosure act data to develop an index for Mortgage discrimination at the community level. Public Health Reports. 2011 Sep-Oct;126 Suppl 3:102-14. PMID: 21836743.
  13. Cassell CH, Mendez DD, Strauss RP. Maternal perspectives: qualitative responses about perceived barriers to care among children with orofacial clefts in North Carolina. The Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal. 2012 May;49(3):262-9. PMID: 21740175.
  14. Mendez DD, Spriggs AL. Race as a social construct: the genetic fallacy. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2008 Apr;198(4):484; author reply 483-4. PMID: 18395050.
  15. Liverpool J, Francis S, Liverpool CE, Dean GT, Mendez DD. Leptospirosis: case reports of an outbreak in Guyana. Annals of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology. PMID: 18348778.
  16. Hall D, Samms-Vaughan M, Roberson S. Onugha T, Siles RI. The effects of the environment on autistic spectrum disorder in Jamaica. West Indian Medical Journal. 2001 Nov;50(Suppl 5):13.

Dara D Mendez