Esa Davis, MD, MPH, FAAFP

  • University of Pittsburgh, Division of General Internal Medicine

Esa Matius Davis, MD, MPH, FAAFP, is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Clinical and Translational Science. She is the Director of both the UPMC Tobacco Treatment Service and the Career Education and Enhancement for Health Care Research Diversity (CEED) Program. Dr. Davis has a patient-oriented research program focused on obesity-related maternal and child health outcomes and in comparative effectiveness research in obesity and tobacco. She has investigated the perinatal, cultural, and behavioral factors associated with disparities in obesity among women. Dr. Davis has contributed new analytic methods in investigating pregnancy factors associated with the development of maternal obesity and related outcomes. Her current study aims to examine differences in perinatal outcomes of women randomized to two screening/diagnostic strategies for gestational diabetes. She has also conducted studies that investigate the association between obesity and cardiac recovery and remodeling in women with postpartum cardiomyopathy. Dr. Davis’ research also focuses on reducing risk factors such as hypertension, obesity, smoking and patient attitudes associated with cardiovascular disease.

Education and Training

BS in Biology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1993
MD, New Jersey Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), 1997
Family Medicine Residency, Overlook Hospital, New Jersey, 2000
MPH (Epidemiology), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2002
Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program Research Fellowship, Johns Hopkins University, 2002
General Internal Medicine and National Research Service Award Fellowship, Johns Hopkins University, 2003

Representative Publications

Davis EM, Ewald G, Givertz MM, Rajagopalan N, Cooper Jr LT, Briller J, Felker GM, Bozkurt B, Drazner MH, Hanley-Yanez K, Halder I, McTiernan CF, McNamara DM. Maternal obesity affects cardiac remodeling and recovery in women with peripartum cardiomyopathy. American Journal of Perinatology. 2019;36(5):476-483.

  • A prospective analysis of 100 women with peripartum cardiomyopathy found that obese women had greater cardiac remodeling, higher leptin levels, and diminished cardiac recovery.

Davis EM, Scifres CM, Abebe K, Costacou T, Comer D, Catalano P, Simhan H, Freiberg M, Day N. Comparison of birth outcomes by gestational diabetes screening criteria. American Journal of Perinatology Reports. 2018;8(4):e280-e288.

  • Examining the association between different diagnostic criteria for gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and adverse birth outcomes, this retrospective cohort study found little difference in birth outcomes between GDM/Carpenter-Coustan and GDM/International Association of Diabetes in Pregnancy Study Group.

Mendez DD, Sanders SA, Karimi HA, Gharani P, Rathbun SL, Gary-Webb TL, Wallace ML, Gianakas JJ, Burke LE, Davis EM. Understanding pregnancy and postpartum health using ecological momentary assessment and mobile technology: protocol for the Postpartum Mothers Mobile Study. JMIR Research Protocols. 2019;8(6): e13569.

  • This protocol outlines the development of the Postpartum Mothers Mobile Study, one of the first published studies to use an ongoing ecological momentary assessment and mobile technology protocol during pregnancy and throughout 1 year postpartum to understand the health of childbearing populations and enduring racial disparities in postpartum weight and cardiometabolic health.

Davis EM, Babineau DC, Wang X, Zyzanski S, Abrams B, Bodnar LM, Horwitz RI. Short inter-pregnancy intervals, parity, excessive pregnancy weight gain and risk of maternal obesity. Maternal and Child Health Journal. 2014;18(3):554-562.

  • This prospective cohort study found that primiparous and nulliparous women had similar obesity risk unless the primiparous women had excessive pregnancy weight gain in the first pregnancy, then their risk of obesity was greater. Multiparous women with the same excessive pregnancy weight gain in the first pregnancy and at least one additional short inter-pregnancy interval had a significant risk of obesity after childbirth.

Research Interests

Dr. Davis is an NIH-funded clinical researcher with a patient-oriented research program focused on obesity-related maternal and child health outcomes and in comparative effectiveness research in obesity and tobacco. Much of her work has focused on understanding the development of obesity in women. She has contributed to the field specifically by investigating the perinatal, cultural, and behavioral factors associated with the racial and socioeconomic disparities in obesity among women that have persisted for decades. She published a novel conceptual framework that has been highly cited to help guide the testing of hypotheses associated weight change during pregnancy and the long-term development of obesity and related disparities.

Dr. Davis has contributed new analytic methods in investigating pregnancy-factors associated with the development of maternal obesity and related outcomes. She is currently the principal investigator of a NIH-funded randomized controlled trial titled, "Comparison of Two Screening Strategies for Gestational Diabetes, GDM2 Study," which aims to examine differences in perinatal outcomes of women randomized to two screening/diagnostic strategies for gestational diabetes. She has also conducted studies that investigate the association between obesity and cardiac recovery and remodeling in women with postpartum cardiomyopathy. Dr. Davis also investigates the reduction reducing risk factors such as hypertension, obesity, smoking and patient attitudes associated with cardiovascular disease. She is currently a co-investigator on three NIH/FDA-funded randomized control trials that are studying effective strategies for treating hospitalized smokers and evaluating new nicotine standards for cigarettes.

Acievements and Awards

Member, Institute of Medicine Dissemination of Pregnancy Weight Gain Guidelines Committee, 2011-2013
Educational Chair, American Heart Association Executive Leadership Advisory Committee, 2012-present
Member, Institute of Medicine Epigenetics and Obesity in Childhood Committee, 2014-2015
Diplomat, American Board of Family Physicians, 2000-present
American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Leadership and Service Award, 2014
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Excellence in Teaching-Small Group Facilitator Award, 2014
New Pittsburgh Courier’s 2013 Women of Excellence Award, 2013
Member, North American Association for the Study of Obesity, 2011-present