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As Mary Regan, PhD, RN, associate professor, approached adulthood, she realized her career options were limited in Malawi, the small country in Central Africa where she was raised. Regan chose nursing because the function of the body and its capacity to heal always fascinated her. She also relished the opportunity to move to London to complete her training to be a nurse, and later a midwife. Today, she is still passionate about pregnancy and birth as she is focusing her efforts on improving childbirth outcomes and educating the future nursing force in the classroom.
Currently, Regan has a $2.5 million research grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research to examine the effect of diet on vaginal microbiota and preterm birth. Preterm births are extremely high in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of every nine babies born in the U.S. are premature. These births are highest among African-American and Hispanic women and are strongly associated with low-socio economic status. Preterm birth can have a devastating effect on the health of the child both in the short and long term. Regan, who joined the faculty in 2009 after completing a National Library of Medicine post-doctoral fellowship in bioinformatics, chose the School of Nursing because it provided a supportive environment to learn how to conduct research.