Inaugural Prize for Prenatal Innovation Award Will Support Research Project to Improve Mental Health in Pregnancy for Low-Income Black Women in Washington, DC


Jennifer Myers

Morgan McKean

ARLINGTON, VA, SEPT. 4, 2019 – The Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation (JB-LF) is pleased to announce Children’s National as the winner of the inaugural Prize for Prenatal Innovation, which comes with an award of $25,000. The check will be awarded to Dr. Catherine Limperopoulos by JB-LF Founder Neal Lawson and Executive Director Jennifer Myers on Friday, Sept. 6 at 12pm at Children’s National, located at 111 Michigan Ave. NW. The check awarding event, in the hospital’s Costco Wholesale Atrium, is open to press; please RSVP to

JB-LF launched the Prize to uncover and support forward-thinking solutions that have the potential to improve access to prenatal care for disadvantaged women in the greater Washington, DC region. This inaugural award will support a citywide research project in Washington, DC, led by Dr. Limperopoulos to develop and implement strategies that reduce obstacles to screening for stress, depression, and anxiety in pregnancy and to provide necessary follow-up resources tailored for low-income black perinatal women.

Stress, depression, and anxiety are the most common complications of pregnancy, affecting up to 25% of women in the prenatal period and/or first postpartum year. For low-income black women, stark disparities cause an even greater burden, with 40% experiencing maternal distress.

The funds provided by JB-LF to Children’s National will specifically underwrite the work of the study’s Stakeholder Engagement Core (SEC), chaired by Robyn Russell and Patricia Quinn, fellows of the DC-Primary Care Association. The SEC will engage black pregnant women, community advocates and clinicians, and representatives from DC Health to adapt and refine proposed interventions. They will also monitor enrollment and follow-up, and disseminate local implementation of the study’s findings. The SEC’s role will ensure community voices strongly inform the research project’s final structure.

“Children’s National is honored to receive the inaugural Jennifer Bush-Lawson Prize for Prenatal Innovation. As a scientist focused on the developing brain, I see how unhealthy environments and maternal stress affect a child’s brain development, even before birth. By connecting with pregnant mothers and empowering them with tools to reduce their own stress and anxiety, we can help their babies have the best possible start to life. We are deeply grateful to the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation for partnering with us to create a citywide network that is strongly informed by community voices,” said Catherine Limperopoulos, PhD, Director and Principal Investigator of the Advanced Pediatric Brain Imaging Research Laboratory, the Center for the Developing Brain; Vice-Chair of Research in Radiology and Co-Director of Research in Newborn Medicine.

“We launched the Prize for Prenatal Innovation because too many vulnerable women don’t receive the type and level of care they need during pregnancy, and we wanted to make a difference. We’re incredibly pleased to partner with Children’s National to support this citywide research project, which could help many women and families now and in years to come,” said Neal Lawson, founder and chair of the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation.

About the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation

Established in honor of Jenn Lawson, who lost her life in 2014, the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, serves economically vulnerable mothers and infants by working to increase access to high-quality maternal and infant care and support. Jennifer was a loving, dedicated mother of three, driven to advocacy after receiving high-quality care during her own complicated pregnancies. JB-LF seeks to embody her generous spirit by giving all mothers and newborns the means to thrive. More information is available at and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

About Children’s National

Children’s National Health System, based in Washington, D.C., has served the nation’s children since 1870. Children’s National is the nation’s No. 6 pediatric hospital and, for the third straight year, is ranked No. 1 in newborn care, as well as ranked in all specialties evaluated by U.S. News & World Report. It has been designated two times as a Magnet® hospital, a designation given to hospitals that demonstrate the highest standards of nursing and patient care delivery. This pediatric academic health system offers expert care through a convenient, community-based primary care network and specialty outpatient centers in the D.C. Metropolitan area, including the Maryland suburbs and Northern Virginia. Home to the Children’s Research Institute and the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, Children’s National is the seventh-highest NIH-funded children’s hospital in the nation. Children’s National is recognized for its expertise and innovation in pediatric care and as a strong voice for children through advocacy at the local, regional and national levels.  For more information, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


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