Sonya Borrero, MD, MS

  • Director, Center for Women’s Health Research and Innovation
  • Professor of Medicine; Clinical and Translational Science; and Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences
  • Associate Director, VA Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion (CHERP)
  • Co-Director, VA Advanced Fellowship Program in Women’s Health

Sonya Borrero, MD, MS, is a tenured Professor of Medicine and the Director of the Center for Women's Health and Research Innovation (CWHRI). Dr. Borrero’s work strives to advance reproductive health equity. Her research has been funded by NIH, VA, and foundation grants and has focused on understanding multilevel influences on contraceptive and pregnancy decision making in marginalized populations in order to identify targets for social, clinical, and policy interventions that will decrease people’s risk for undesired pregnancy and augment reproductive autonomy. Her current projects include optimizing pre-pregnancy and contraceptive care provision within the VA Healthcare System; developing patient-centered digital tools to support women’s reproductive decision making and facilitate provider provision of family planning care; advancing understanding of how social and structural factors and inequalities shape and constrain people’s reproductive agency, intentions, and behaviors; and developing and validating novel measures to capture reproductive experiences. She has served on the Boards of several national and local organizations, including the Society of Family Planning, the Women's Law Project, and the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, and is a member of the Maternal Mortality Review Committee in Pennsylvania. 

Education & Training

BA, Amherst College, 1996
MD, Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, 2001
Internal Medicine Residency, University of Pittsburgh, 2004
General Medicine Fellowship, University of Pittsburgh, 2007
MS, University of Pittsburgh, 2007

Representative Publications

Borrero S, Frietsche S, Dehlendorf C. Crisis pregnancy centers: faith centers operating in bad faith. Journal of General Internal Medicine. 2019;34(1):144-145.

  • Crisis pregnancy centers are organizations that provide pregnancy-related counseling and support from an antiabortion perspective. While crisis pregnancy centers have a right to exist and can provide valued emotional, spiritual, and material support for some women, they often engage in practices that are dubious, even unethical.

Borrero S, Callegari LS, Zhao X, Mor MK, Sileanu FE, Switzer G, Zickmund S, Washington DL, Zephyrin LC, Schwarz EB. Unintended pregnancy and contraceptive use among women veterans: The ECUUN Study. Journal of General Internal Medicine. 2017;32(8):900-908.

  • While rates of contraceptive use, unmet contraceptive need, and unintended pregnancy among women veterans served by the VA are similar to those in the US population, these rates are suboptimal in both populations, with over a quarter of women who are at risk for unintended pregnancy not using prescription contraception, and unintended pregnancies accounting for over a third of all pregnancies.

Borrero S, Nikolajski C, Steinberg JR, Freedman L, Akers AY, Ibrahim S, Schwarz EB. "It just happens": a qualitative study exploring low-income women's perspectives on pregnancy intention and planning. Contraception. 2015;91(2):150-156.

  • Findings from semistructured interviews with low-income, Black and white women suggest that the current conceptual framework that views pregnancy-related behaviors from a strict planned behavior perspective may be limited, particularly among low-income populations.

Achievements and Awards

  • Women’s Health Presentation Award for the highest-rated, peer-reviewed poster abstract, SGIM Annual Meeting, 2010
  • Women’s Health Presentation Award for the highest-rated, peer-reviewed oral abstract presentation, SGIM Annual Meeting, 2013
  • Best Poster Abstract Award, 1st place, North American Forum on Family Planning Annual Meeting, 2013
  • Excellence in Medical Student Research Mentoring Award, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, 2014
  • Distinguished Research Mentor Award, Institute for Clinical Research and Education (ICRE), University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine., 2018
  • SGIM Midcareer Research Mentoring Award, 2019
  • Excellence in Government Gold Award in Outstanding Contribution to Science, Pittsburgh Federal Executive Board, 2020
  • Beacon of Science Award, Society of Family Planning, 2020