Dara D Mendez, PhD, MPH

  • Assistant Professor, Epidemiology
  • Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh

My research, teaching, curriculum development and service applies equity, anti-racism, anti-oppression praxis as well as Black Feminist Theory, Critical Race Theory and Public Health Critical Race Praxis.  My research program focuses on understanding and addressing racial and socioeconomic inequity in pregnancy, birth, and women's health. I specifically employ novel methods to measure and understand how racism (including institutional and structural racism) and social contexts intersect to contribute to inequities in health. I have developed novel approaches to understand and measure institutional and structural and individual experiences of racism among pregnant and postpartum populations; including using real-time data collection via mobile devices coupled with ecological momentary assessment (EMA) and geographical momentary assessment (GMA) via the PMOMS Study (pmoms.pitt.edu). I work closely with community-based and governmental agencies to address inequity in maternal and infant health including serving on the Infant Mortality Collaborative for Allegheny County, the Pennsylvania Maternal Mortality Review Committee as well as the ACHD/DHS COVID-19 Equity Advisory Committee and the Black COVID-19 Equity Task Force.

Education and Training

2002 | Spelman College, Atlanta, GA | B.A.
2005 | University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC | M.P.H. (Maternal and Child Health)
2005 | University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC | Interdisciplinary Certificate in Health Disparities
2009 | University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC | Ph.D. (Maternal and Child Health, minor in Epidemiology; specialization in Perinatal Epidemiology)

Representative Publications

Mendez DD, Fabio A, Robinson T, Bear T, Keenan E, Schiff M, Gary-Webb T. Using Spatial Analytics to Identify Areas for a Mobile Food Market. Progress in Community Health Partnership: Research Education and Action 2020 (In Press).

Mendez DD, Sander SA, Lai Y, Wallace ML, Rathbun SL, Gary-Webb TL, Davis EM, Burke LE. Ecological Momentary Assessment of Stress, Racism and Other Forms of Discrimination During Pregnancy Using Smartphone Technology. Peri Ped Epi J 2020. doi: 10.1111/ppe.12619. [Epub ahead of print].

Mendez DD, Sanders S, Karimi H, Gharani P, Gary-Webb T, Wallace M, Davis E, Gianakas J, Burke L. Understanding Pregnancy and Postpartum Health Using Ecological Momentary Assessment and Mobile Technology: Protocol for the PMOMS Study. JMIR Protocols. 2019 Jun 26; 8(6):e13569.

Mendez DD, Devaughn S, Duell J. The Pregnancy Ecological Momentary Assessment Pilot Study: Applications of Mobile Technology.  Integrative Gynecology Obstetrics J. 2019; 2(1): 1-6.

Goode RW, Styn MA, Mendez DD, Gary-Webb TL. African Americans in Standard Behavioral Treatment for Obesity, 2001-2015. Western Journal of Nursing Research. 2017 Feb 1. [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 28322668.

Mendez DD, Thorpe RJ, Amutah N, Davis EM, Walker RE, Chapple-McGruder T, Bodnar L. Neighborhood racial composition and poverty in association with pre-pregnancy weight and gestational weight gain. Social Science and Medicine - Population Health. 2016 Dec;2:692-99. doi.org/10.1016/j.ssmph.2016.09.008.

Mendez DD, Gary-Webb TL, Goode R, Zheng Y, Imes CC, Fabio A, Duell J, Burke LE. Neighborhood factors and six-month weight change among overweight individuals in a weight loss intervention. Preventive Medicine Reports. 2016 Oct 20;4:569-573. PMID: 27818916.

Mendez DD, Kim KH, Hardaway CR, Fabio A. Neighborhood Racial and Socioeconomic Disparities in the Food and Alcohol Environment: Are There Differences by Commercial Data Sources? Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. 2016 Mar;3(1):108-16. PMID: 26896110.

Mendez DD, Duell J, Reiser S, Martin D, Gradeck R, Fabio A. A methodology for combining multiple commercial data sources to improve measurement of the food and alcohol environment: applications of geographical information systems. Geospatial Health. 2014 Nov;9(1):71-96. PMID: 25545927.

Cassell CH, Strassle P, Mendez DD, Lee KA, Krohmer A, Meyer RE, Strauss RP. Barriers to care for children with orofacial clefts in North Carolina. Birth Defects Research. Part A, Clinical and Molecular Teratology. 2014 Nov;100(11):837-47. PMID: 25200965.

Mendez DD, Burke JG, Jones JR, Salter C. Perspectives From Community-Based Doulas and Mothers: Neighborhood Context and Pregnancy. Journal of Health Disparities Research and Practice. 2014;7(4):91-106.

Mendez DD, Hogan VK, Culhane JF. Institutional racism, neighborhood factors, stress, and preterm birth. Ethnicity and Health. 2014;19(5):479-99. PMID: 24134165.
Cassell CH, Krohmer A, Mendez DD, Lee KA, Strauss RP, Meyer RE. Factors associated with distance and time traveled to cleft and craniofacial care. Birth Defects Research. Part A, Clinical and Molecular Teratology. 2013 Oct;97(10):685-95. PMID: 24039055.

Mendez DD, Doebler DA, Kim KH, Amutah NN, Fabio A, Bodnar LM. Neighborhood socioeconomic disadvantage and gestational weight gain and loss. Maternal and Child Health Journal. 2014 Jul;18(5):1095-103. PMID: 24026397.   

Mendez DD, Hogan VK, Culhane JF. Stress during pregnancy: the role of institutional racism. Stress and Health Journal. 2013 Oct;29(4):266-74. PMID: 23055409.

Mendez DD, Hogan VK, Culhane J. Institutional racism and pregnancy health: using Home Mortgage Disclosure act data to develop an index for Mortgage discrimination at the community level. Public Health Reports. 2011 Sep-Oct;126 Suppl 3:102-14. PMID: 21836743.

Cassell CH, Mendez DD, Strauss RP. Maternal perspectives: qualitative responses about perceived barriers to care among children with orofacial clefts in North Carolina. The Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal. 2012 May;49(3):262-9. PMID: 21740175.

Mendez DD, Spriggs AL. Race as a social construct: the genetic fallacy. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2008 Apr;198(4):484; author reply 483-4. PMID: 18395050.