Jeannette Ickovics

Social Sciences (Public Health and Psychology)

Dean of Faculty
Visiting Professor


View Curriculum Vitae

Professor Jeannette R Ickovics is the Dean of Faculty at Yale-NUS College and Professor of Social Sciences. She has been affiliated with Yale University since 1989, first as a post-doctoral scholar, and she continues to serve as the inaugural Samuel and Liselotte Herman Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Yale School of Public Health and Professor of Psychology at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Yale University. She was the Founding Chair of the Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Yale School of Public Health and Founding Director of Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE).

Dean Ickovics is a dedicated teacher, mentor and scholar. Her research investigates the interplay of complex biomedical, behavioural, social and psychological factors that influence individual and community health. She has worked in the areas of maternal-child health, mental health, and multi-sector approaches to chronic disease prevention. Dedicated to social justice, equity, inclusion and diversity, she uses this lens to examine challenges faced by those often marginalised by the healthcare system and by society. She has expertise running large, scientifically rigorous clinical trials in community settings. Her community-engaged research – funded with more than US$40 million in grants from the US National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and foundations – is characterised by methodological rigour and cultural sensitivity. She is author of more than 200 peer-reviewed publications. Dean Ickovics is recipient of honours and awards, including recent election as Fellow of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research and the Strickland-Daniel Mentoring Award from the American Psychological Association.

Contributions to Science [From US National Institutes of Health, biosketch]

My contributions to science are demonstrated through numerous multi-site trials, funded with more than $40 million in research grants from NIH, CDC and private foundations, and resulting in more than 200 peer-reviewed papers.

1. Innovations in Prenatal Care: More than 4 million women give birth annually in the US. Rates of preterm birth (>12%) and low birth weight (>9%) have been relatively intransigent for more than 3 decades. These are leading causes of infant morbidity and mortality, cost >$30 billion annually, and represent extreme racial/ethnic health disparities. The US Department of Health and Human Services refers to preterm birth as “one of the most pressing challenges to maternal, infant, and child health.” An independent review of studies on models of prenatal care found only one randomised controlled trial demonstrated improved birth outcomes. This study, from my research team, compared an innovative model of group prenatal care to standard individual care, and found women randomised to group prenatal care had a 33% lower rate of preterm delivery overall, and a 41% lower rate of preterm delivery for African American women. Moreover, we found that all perinatal and postpartum outcomes were as good or better for women randomised to group care compared to those randomised to traditional individual care (e.g., delivery complications, breastfeeding, psychosocial outcomes, repeat pregnancy, incident postpartum STDs). A second cluster RCT (14 New York City community hospitals and health centers) found that group prenatal care reduced risk for small for gestational age infants and depressive symptoms (which in turn were associated with preterm birth). I was the principal investigator on these two multi-site NIH-funded randomised controlled trials (R01MH/HD61175, R01MH074399). Based on successful outcomes, United Health Foundation funded a dissemination study of group prenatal care in Detroit MI and Nashville TN with an eye toward national scale-up. This work has been recognised as “innovative” as part of the Harvard Health Acceleration Challenge and the Hemsley Challenge. I collaborate and consult with investigators across the United States as well as in Europe with regard to group medical appointments.

2. Community Health Needs Assessments: Driven by unprecedented growth in obesity, chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer account for 7 of 10 deaths in the United States annually. I have made significant contributions to public health’s understanding of the influence of the social and environmental factors that contribute to poor health outcomes. My team has received a number of foundation grants related to this topic, leading community-based interventions that change environments and more fully involve community members to ensure sustainable reductions in obesity (e.g., Kresge, Aetna, Donaghue Foundations). We work directly with New Haven neighbourhoods to form local partnerships, empower residents, identify challenges, and provide resources to promote wellness through action. Triennially (2009/2012/2015), we conducted community stratified, population-level health surveys (N>1200, response rate >75% — each year). Concurrently, we conducted a regional and Connecticut-statewide community health needs assessment (with DataHaven, Inc.). In addition, we conduct collaborative interventions to improve community/population health. Forty percent of residents report that there are people encouraging a healthy lifestyle in their neighborhoods, and 42% report that it has become easier to lead a healthy lifestyle over the past three years. We documented a 7% reduction in obesity from 2012 to 2015.

3. School-based Obesity Prevention: I was the Principal Investigator (MPI with Dr. Marlene Schwartz) on a NIH-funded cluster randomised controlled obesity prevention trial at 12 middle schools in collaboration with the Rudd Center and the New Haven Public Schools (1R01 HD070740). Health for Achievement was a 5-year study that examines the impact of school-based policies on risk factors and outcomes related to obesity, chronic disease and academic achievement. With data from students at 12 participating schools, we have developed and/or implemented interventions to enhance student health. We conducted research with >1,800 middle school students regarding their physical health, health behaviors, school and neighborhood environments. The results of our research have been disseminated both locally and nationally, aiming to educate our communities and encourage better health for all students.

4. HIV/STD Risk Reduction for Women: Prior to our randomised interventions, I have been PI and co-PI on numerous longitudinal studies of teens and young women to identify factors that influence behavioral and biological outcomes associated with HIV and STD risk. These studies were among the very first focused on women at risk for HIV, impact of testing, and then subsequently on pregnant women and preventing maternal to child transmission. Additional research focused on psychosocial factors impacting HIV progression among women (i.e., viral load, CD4 count). I continue to conduct research on reproductive risk as part of our RCTs in group prenatal care, and in support of pre- and post-doctoral fellows in our NIH T-32 training program.

5. Training/Mentoring the Next Generation of Prevention Scientists: There remains a critical need to train investigators who are prepared to conduct primary and secondary prevention research in HIV. I was the Deputy Director for the Yale Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS, where I was also founding Director of the NIH T-32 pre- and post-doctoral training program in HIV prevention (MH020031), training more than 60 Fellows, including many from underrepresented backgrounds and from a broad array of disciplines. All but one Fellow has entered research careers. Seven are or have been faculty at Yale, and others have gone on to receive faculty appointments at well-respected institutions across the United States. Between them, in the 15 years that I was Director of the training program, these scholars published more than 700 journal articles. And despite a strained funding climate, they have received numerous extramural grants.


1. Simons HR, Thorpe LE, Jones HE, Lewis JB, Tobin JN, Ickovics JR. Perinatal Depressive Symptom Trajectories among Adolescent Women in New York City. Journal of Adolescent Health. 2020 Jul;67(1):84-92. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2019.12.017.

2. Mehra R, Boyd L, Magriples M, Kershaw T, Ickovics JR, Keene D. Black pregnant women “get the most judgment”: A qualitative study of the experiences of black women at the intersection of race, gender and pregnancy. Women’s Health Issues. [In press]

3. Duffany KO, McVeigh KH, Lipkind HS, Kershaw TS & Ickovics, JR. Large for gestational age and risk for academic delays and learning disabilities: Assessing modification by maternal obesity and diabetes. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, special issue on Maternal-Child Health and Life Course Perspectives. 2020 Jul 29;17(15):E5473. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17155473.

4. Ickovics JR, Lewis JB, Cunningham SD, Thomas J & Magriples U. Transforming prenatal care: Multidisciplinary team science improves a broad range of maternal-child outcomes. American Psychologist. 2019; 19:120. DOI: 10.1186/s12884-019-2256-0. PMID: 31023259

5. Jones T, Darzi A, Egger G, Ickovics JR, Noffsinger E, Ramdas K, Stevens J, Sumego M, Birrell F. Process and systems: A systems approach to embedding group consultation in the National Health Service (UK). Future Healthcare Journal. 2019; 6:8-16. PMID: 31098579.

6. Cunningham SD, Lewis JB, Shebl F, Boyd LM, Robinson MA, Grilo SA, Lewis SM, Pruett AL, Ickovics JR. Group prenatal care reduces risk of preterm birth and low birthweight: A matched cohort study. Journal of Women’s Health. 2019;28:17-22.

7. Yee C, Cunningham SD & Ickovics JR. Application of the social vulnerability index for identifying teen pregnancy intervention need in the United States. Maternal and Child Health Journal. 2019;23:1516-1524. Doi: 10.1007/s10995-019-02792-7.

8. Mehra R, Keene DE, Kershaw TS, Ickovics JR, Warren JL. Racial and ethnic disparities in adverse birth outcomes: Differences by racial residential segregation. Social Science and Medicine: Population Health. 2019;8:100417. PMID: 31193960.

9. Mehra R, Shebl F, Cunningham SD, Magriples U, Barrette E, Herrera C, Kozhimannil KB, Ickovics JR. Area-level deprivation and preterm birth: results from a national, commercially-insured population. BMC Public Health. 2019;19:236. PMID:30813938.

10. Mehra R, Cunningham SD, Lewis JB, Thomas J, Ickovics JR. Recommendations for the pilot expansion of Medicaid coverage for doulas in New York State. American Journal of Public Health. 2019;109:217-219.

11. Thomas JL, Lewis JB, Martinez I, Cunningham SD, Siddique M, Tobin JN, Ickovics JR. Associations between intimate partner violence profiles and mental health among low-income, urban pregnant adolescents. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. 2019;19(1):120. PMID: 31023259.

12. Flanagan K, Cunningham SD, Lewis JB, Tobin JN, Ickovics JR. Factors Associated with Young Pregnant Women’s Access to Core Components of Sexual and Reproductive Health Care in New York City. Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare. 2019;19:50-55. doi: 10.1016/j.srhc.2018.12.003. PMID: 30928135.

13. Ickovics JR, Duffany KO, Shebl F, Read M, Peters S, Schwartz M. Implementing school-based policies to prevent obesity: Cluster randomized trial. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2019;56:e1-e11.

14. Fernandes C-S F, Schwartz MB, Ickovics JR, Basch CE. Educator Perspectives: Selected Barriers to Implementation of School-level Nutrition Policies. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 29 January 2019, e-pub ahead of print. PMID: 30704936.

15. Carroll G, Keene D, Santilli A, Johannes J, Ickovics JR, O’Connor Duffany K. Availability, Accessibility, Utilization: In-depth interviews with food insecure residents and emergency food providers in New Haven CT. Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition. 2019;14:1-2, 240-251. DOI: 10.1080/19320248.2018.1555072.

16. Kwak CW & Ickovics JR. Adolescent Suicide in South Korea: Risk Factors and Proposed Multi-Dimensional Solution. Asian Journal of Psychiatry. 2019 May 24;43:150-153. E-pub ahead of print. PMID: 31151083.
17. Cunningham SD, Mokshagundham S, Chai H, Lewis JB, Levine J, Tobin JN, Ickovics JR. Postpartum Depressive Symptoms: Gestational Weight Gain as a Risk Factor for Adolescents Who Are Overweight or Obese. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health. 2018; 63: 178-184.

18. Martinez I, Ickovics JR, Keene D, Perez-Escamilla R, Kershaw TS. Longitudinal evaluation of syndemic risk dyads in a cohort of young pregnant couples. Journal of Adolescent Health. 2018; 63:189-196.

19. Martinez I, Kershaw T, Keene D, Perez-Escamilla R, Lewis JB, Tobin JN, Ickovics JR. Acculturation and syndemic risk: Longitudinal evaluation of risk factors among pregnant Latina adolescents in New York City. Annals of Behavioral Medicine. 2018;52:42-52.

20. Rosenthal L, Earnshaw VA, Moore JM, Ferguson DN, Lewis TT, Reid AE, Lewis JB, Stasko EC, Tobin JN, Ickovics JR. Intergenerational consequences: Women’s experiences of discrimination in pregnancy predict infant social-emotional development at six months and one year. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. 2018; 39: 228-237.

21. Earnshaw VA, Rosenthal L, Gilstad-Hayden K, Carroll-Scott A, Kershaw TS, Santilli A, Ickovics JR. Intersectional experiences of discrimination in a low-resource urban community: An exploratory latent class analysis. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology. 22 Jan 2018;

  • Social and Behavioural Foundations of Health
  • Community Health Assessment and Intervention
  • Resilience and the Human Condition: Psychology, Health and Literature