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Katherine Semrau

Katherine Semrau, PhD, MPH, is director of the BetterBirth Program at Ariadne Labs. As Program Director, Dr. Semrau oversees the research and execution of the BetterBirth Program which aims to improve the quality of care, minimize complications, and end the preventable deaths of women and newborns through effective implementation of evidence-based, scalable solutions at the frontline of care. Katherine is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and an Associate Epidemiologist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the Division of Global Health Equity.

Dr. Semrau has over 19 years of experience in the fields of maternal, newborn and child health and epidemiology. Her research has focused on prevention of maternal and child mortality, improvement of quality of care, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Currently, Dr. Semrau has a portfolio of research focused on designing, testing and implementing maternal and newborn health interventions in resource limited settings. The BetterBirth Program portfolio focuses on improving implementation and outcomes in maternal and neonatal health at time of childbirth with projects focused on the Safe Childbirth Checklist, Patient Education and Facility Readiness. Additionally, we have a project focused on identifying solutions for the most vulnerable newborns, especially low birthweight infants.

Most recently, Dr. Semrau led one of the world’s largest maternal/newborn health studies the BetterBirth trial. This large randomized controlled trial of a coaching-based intervention WHO Safe Childbirth Checklist in Uttar Pradesh, India tested the impact on provider adherence to practices, maternal/perinatal morbidity, and mortality. The Ariadne Labs team shared the results via a report available here. Previously, Dr. Semrau, the co-Principal Investigator of the Zambia Chlorhexidine Application Trial (ZamCAT), led the epidemiology and data analysis team for this cluster randomized control trial of >39,000 births in Southern Province, Zambia. As a team member of the Zambia Exclusive Breastfeeding Study, she lived in Zambia for over 3 years running the study laboratory and coordinating all enrollment, data collection and data management activities. She then returned to the U.S. and collaborated on multiple projects in sub-Saharan Africa, India and the Republic of Georgia.

Dr. Semrau’s dissertation research focused on breast problems, including mastitis and abscess, and HIV in HIV-infected women in Zambia. Dr. Semrau has a PhD in epidemiology from Boston University and an MPH in international health and epidemiology from the University of Alabama-Birmingham.