Ariadne Labs Announces 2020-2021 Spark Grant Recipients

Recipients working on improving prenatal-primary care transition, expanding home-based palliative care, and addressing postpartum care following cesarean delivery

BOSTON, MA — January 26, 2021 – Ariadne Labs today announced three recipients of the Ariadne Labs Spark Grant innovation award. Now in its eighth year, the Spark Grant program was founded to “spark” new and early-stage ideas focused on addressing gaps in health care and improving delivery of care. 

New this year, Ariadne Labs partnered with Harvard Medical School to award two Dean’s Innovation Grants in Health Care Delivery to Harvard-affiliated faculty. 

The 2020-2021 recipients were chosen following a competitive selection process from a diverse pool of candidates. The work of this year’s awardees addresses gaps in care during the transition from prenatal to primary care, the expansion of home-based palliative care services for eligible patients, and the development of protocols for safe postpartum care following cesarean delivery for women in rural Africa. 

“More than ever, we need innovative ideas to bridge the gaps in delivering equitable health care,” said Asaf Bitton, MD, MPH, Executive Director of Ariadne Labs. “Over the past eight years, our Spark grantees have played a critical role in pushing us to continue to innovate, and have directly contributed to our ability to expand our work into new areas of the health care system, ultimately improving care for more patients.”

“The history of medicine has shown us time and again that elegantly simple and scalable solutions can have profound and disruptive effects on health care systems, patient outcomes, and human lives. These catalytic grants and the collaboration that has enabled them are posed to achieve just that,” said Harvard Medical School Dean George Q. Daley, MD, PhD.

The 2020-2021 recipients are: 

Chloe Zera, MD, MPH, Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

  • Beyond Birth: Optimizing the Transition from Obstetric to Primary Care: The period of transition from pregnancy care to ongoing primary care represents a key opportunity to reduce short- and long-term adverse outcomes following birthing and delivery. Currently, there is little data to guide providers in improving outcomes, and there is an urgent need to explore models of care that support the changing focus of health during pregnancy and delivery to health beyond birth. This project aims to design and test a model to improve the hand-off from obstetric care to primary care for those at highest risk of morbidity in the year after birth, with the ultimate goal of developing a scalable intervention to bridge this gap.

Recipients of the Harvard Medical School Dean’s Innovation Grants in Health Care Delivery are:  

Anita Wagner, PharmD, MPH, DrPH, Associate Professor, Department of Population Medicine, a joint Department of Harvard Medical School and the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute; Director, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Ethics Program

Patricia Toro, MD, MPH, Associate Medical Director, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care

  • Developing a model for a joint provider-payer strategy to increase use of home-based palliative care: Research suggests that home-based palliative care offers numerous benefits, including improved quality of life and care that is less intensive, less costly, and more patient-centered. It may even prolong survival in some patients. Home-based palliative care has been shown to offer numerous benefits, including improved quality of life, potentially prolonged survival, and less intensive, less costly, more patient-centered care. However, the majority of patients who could benefit from home palliative care, including those with chronic, serious illnesses, do not receive it. The ability to identify eligible patients at a population level is a key barrier to more widespread use. This project aims to develop a scalable provider-payer collaboration to ensure rapid targeting of patients for whom home-based palliative care would be appropriate and address the barriers to adoption among payers and providers.

Bethany Hedt-Gauthier, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Associate Professor, Department of Biostatistics, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

  • Protocols for safe postpartum care at home for women delivering by cesarean section in rural Africa: Cesarean sections (c-sections) are the most common surgery performed worldwide. Global protocols detail standards of care for the procedure and hospitalization; however, reviews suggest there is a lack of guidelines for post-discharge instructions, leading to inconsistent care messages and poor follow-up. This gap is particularly harmful for women at high risk for complications after discharge, most notably for surgical site infections, which are common in women delivering via c-section in sub-Saharan Africa. This project will begin building a foundation for development of protocols for postpartum care for women delivering via c-section. The protocols aim to improve consistency in discharge messages and quality of care and to set a reference point for future interventions, including those that incorporate use of community health workers.

About the Spark Grant Program: 

Founded in 2012, the Spark Grant program provides eligible Ariadne Labs and Harvard Medical School faculty with a year of funding to support research and refine promising new ideas to address gaps in health care and create a pipeline of innovative, scalable solutions to continue to improve delivery of care at every stage of the health care journey. To learn more about the Spark Grant program, visit: 

About Ariadne Labs

Ariadne Labs is a joint center for health systems innovation at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. We develop simple, scalable solutions that dramatically improve the delivery of health care at critical moments to save lives and reduce suffering. Our vision is for health systems to deliver the best possible care for every patient, everywhere, every time. Visit to learn more. 


Media Contact: Brigid Tsai,