Dara D Mendez, PhD, MPH

Associate 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:

Amy Flaugh, nsynhtu@cvgg.rqh, 967-179-5653

Personal Statement

My research, teaching, curriculum development and service applies equity, anti-racism, anti-oppression praxis as well as Black Feminist Theory, Critical Race Theory and Public Health Critical Race Praxis.  My research program focuses on understanding and addressing racial and socioeconomic inequity in pregnancy, birth, and women's health. I specifically employ novel methods to measure and understand how racism (including institutional and structural racism) and social contexts intersect to contribute to inequities in health. I have developed novel approaches to understand and measure institutional and structural and individual experiences of racism among pregnant and postpartum populations; including using real-time data collection via mobile devices coupled with ecological momentary assessment (EMA) and geographical momentary assessment (GMA) via the PMOMS Study (pmoms.pitt.edu). I work closely with community-based and governmental agencies to address inequity in maternal and infant health including serving on the Infant Mortality Collaborative for Allegheny County, the Pennsylvania Maternal Mortality Review Committee as well as the ACHD/DHS COVID-19 Equity Advisory Committee and the Black COVID-19 Equity Task Force.


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


ACTIVE (Selected)

2021-2022 | University of Pittsburgh Clinical and Translational Science Institute Disparities in COVID-19 Therapeutics and Vaccination Program Pilot Award. Racial Inequities in COVID-19 Vaccination Uptake and Access. Role: Co-PI (PI: Hill) This study will identify factors related to vaccine uptake and hesitancy, assess experiences of COVID-19 testing and vaccination among Black residents in Pittsburgh, PA and estimate COVID-19 testing and vaccination rates across Allegheny County and by race/ethnicity and over time. 


2020-2022 | University of Pittsburgh Momentum Fund Teaming Grant. A Black Women's Health Agenda. Role: PI. This project will include an environmental scan of health related programs, policies and institutions in Allegheny County and whether they are attentive to the needs of Black women and a subsequent health agenda and strategic plan. 

2020-2021 | University of Pittsburgh, Center for Race and Social Problems
Home Visitation and the Effects of Perceived Racism on Adverse Birth Outcomes in Black Familiies. Role: PI. This project is a mixed-methods study of experiences of racism among Healthy Start families and the ways in which Healthy Start may help mitigate the effects of racism. 

2019-2022 | NIH, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Diversity Supplement for Serwaa Omowale (R01 HL135218-01-S2). Role PI

2018-2022 | CDC 
Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health ( REACH). Award Number NU58DP006582-02 Role: Co-I

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.


COMPLETED (Selected)
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

ACHD/DHS COVID-19 Equity Advisory Committee

Black COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force

Core Faculty, NHLBI/NIH PRIDE Program

UPMC Maternal Mortality Review Committee

Health Equity Editor, Block Chronicles

Epidemiology Student Liason Committee

Member, Maternal Mortality Review Committee, Pennsylvania

Advisory Board, Women Engaged

Member, Infant Mortality Collaborative and BEST Allegheny, Allegheny County

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. Mendez DD, Fabio A, Robinson T, Bear T, Keenan E, Schiff M, Gary-Webb T. Using Spatial Analytics to Identify Areas for a Mobile Food Market. Progress in Community Health Partnership: Research Education and Action 2020.
  2. Mendez DD, Sander SA, Lai Y, Wallace ML, Rathbun SL, Gary-Webb TL, Davis EM, Burke LE. Ecological Momentary Assessment of Stress, Racism and Other Forms of Discrimination During Pregnancy Using Smartphone Technology. Peri Ped Epi J 2020. doi: 10.1111/ppe.12619. [Epub ahead of print].
  3. Mendez DD, Sanders S, Karimi H, Gharani P, Gary-Webb T, Wallace M, Davis E, Gianakas J, Burke L. Understanding Pregnancy and Postpartum Health Using Ecological Momentary Assessment and Mobile Technology: Protocol for the PMOMS Study. JMIR Protocols. 2019 Jun 26; 8(6):e13569.
  4. Mendez DD, Devaughn S, Duell J. The Pregnancy Ecological Momentary Assessment Pilot Study: Applications of Mobile Technology.  Integrative Gynecology Obstetrics J. 2019; 2(1): 1-6.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Mendez DD, Hogan VK, Culhane JF. Institutional racism, neighborhood factors, stress, and preterm birth. Ethnicity and Health. 2014;19(5):479-99. PMID: 24134165.
  11. 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.   
  12. 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.
  13. 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. 

Additional Publications


Dara D Mendez