Lab Director

Dr. AO 2022 Headshot

Dr. Ndidiamaka N. Amutah-Onukagha (she/her) 

Dr. Ndidiamaka Amutah-Onukagha is the Julia A. Okoro Professor of Black Maternal Health in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine. Dr. Amutah-Onukagha is the Founder and Director of the Center of Black Maternal Health and Reproductive Justice (CBMHRJ), and of the Maternal Outcomes of Translational Health Equity Research (MOTHER) Lab. Dr. Amutah-Onukagha’s research investigates maternal health disparities, infant mortality, reproductive health and social justice, and HIV/AIDS as experienced by Black women. She also serves as the Assistant Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the university’s Public Health and Professional Degree Programs.

A well-published author, Dr. Amutah-Onukagha’s research has been presented in over 61 manuscripts, 6 book chapters, a best-selling book on Amazon, and a textbook on culturally responsive evaluation. Her research has also been featured across a series of platforms, including, The Lancet, TedX, USA Today, and most recently broadcasted on MSNBC. She also serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Women’s Health Issues. Currently, Dr. Amutah-Onukagha is the Principal Investigator of two multi-year studies on maternal mortality and morbidity, an R01 funded by National Institutes of Health and an interdisciplinary grant on health equity funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Dr. Ndidiamaka Amutah-Onukagha was an honoree of the 2020 Top 40 under 40 Minority Leaders in Healthcare, as presented by the National Minority Quality Forum. She is a member of the MA-COVID-19 Maternal Equity Coalition, a board member for the Neighborhood Birth Center in Boston, and a former board member of the National Women’s Health Network in Washington, D.C. In 2019, she was honored with the American Public Health Association’s Maternal and Child Health Section’s Young Professional
of the Year Award. She currently serves as co-chair of the section’s Perinatal and Women’s Health Committee.

Dr. Amutah-Onukagha received her Master of Public Health from The George Washington UniversitySchool of Public Health and Health Services before completing her Ph.D. in Public Health from theUniversity of Maryland. She also completed the Kellogg Health Scholars postdoctoral fellowship with an emphasis on community based participatory research and health disparities.

Dr. Amutah-Onukagha lives in the Greater Boston area with her husband and two beautiful sons. More information on Dr. Amutah-Onukagha can be found at

CV |Personal Website | Tufts School of Medicine Faculty Profile | Link to Dr. Amutah-Onukagha’s publications

MOTHER Lab Unit Lead, Director

Dr. Nicholson 2022 Headshot

Dr. Vanessa Nicholson

Dr. Vanessa Nicholson is a community health practitioner with over 10 years of experience in the field of public health. Her formal training in the field began during her undergraduate years at Mississippi State University’s Longest Student health Center where she trained as a peer health educator. Shortly after, she began working at the Department of health while completing her Master’s in Public Health degree at Jackson State University. During this time. she led a team whose work resulted in a statewide plan for addressing the needs of HIV positive Mississippians. Once she received acceptance to the University of Texas Health Science Center, she acquired several roles in research development and grant writing, while also developing partnership with the community via outreach initiatives. Dr. Nicholson completed her doctoral program in 2017 and is currently as Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine.

Program Manager

Candace Stewart

Candace Stewart, MPH

Candace Stewart, MPH is a graduate of Philadelphia University, now known as Thomas Jefferson University (2011), and completed her Master of Public Health with a concentration in Health Policy and Management in 2016 at Stony Brook University.  Candace has worked in research since 2009, where she worked as a Quality Improvement Research Associate for the Yale-New Haven Stroke Center.  While she pursued her master’s degree, she worked as a Research Program Coordinator for the World Trade Center Health and Wellness Program in Long Island, NY.  Here, her research focused on investigating the relationship between post-traumatic stress disorder and pre-mature cognitive impairment in 9/11 responders.  After spending years researching trauma in police officers, Candace made the move to Boston where she currently works as a Clinical Research Manager for the Department of Otolaryngology and Communication Enhancement at Boston Children’s Hospital.  Candace’s interest in health equity led her to pursue a Juris Doctorate with a concentration in Health Law and Policy. She plans to graduate in 2026 and continue her work in the health equity advocacy arena.

Research & Grants Committee

Marketing, Communications, & Events Committee

Community Engagement, Advocacy, & Policy Committee

Sunshine Committee

This internal committee is dedicated to bringing light and love to the Lab throughout the year, sending birthday cards, social media shout-outs, and gift baskets for accomplishments to our members as they progress through their personal and professional lives.

If you’d like to contribute in bringing light to the Lab, visit our Make a Difference page