The Guttmacher Institute Honors Cynthia Harper with the 2013 Darroch Award

The Guttmacher Institute is pleased to announce that Cynthia C. Harper, Ph.D., associate professor in residence in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, is the 2013 recipient of the Darroch Award for Excellence in Sexual and Reproductive Health Research. Firmly committed to improving women’s sexual and reproductive health, Dr. Harper conducts rigorous research aimed at informing changes to public policy and effecting transformations in reproductive health care delivery. Her cutting-edge research, particularly in the areas of emergency contraception and long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods, has been used to shape both evidence-based policy and clinical practice.

Dr. Harper’s research examining the safety of over-the-counter (OTC) access to emergency contraceptive pills, particularly for adolescents, assuaged concerns that provision of these methods would be harmful or would increase sexual risk-taking or STIs. Her work was critical to informing the FDA’s decision to approve the Plan B emergency contraceptive pill and to switch the method to over-the-counter status. Dr. Harper has also conducted studies to identify barriers to the provision of LARC methods in the U.S., and is using those study findings to develop training programs for clinicians and educational materials for women designed to improve access to and uptake of these highly effective methods. The importance of this work has been recognized by major foundations that have supported her efforts to train hundreds of clinicians and health educators in the use of LARC methods.

Dr. Harper has also been instrumental in developing the next generation of reproductive health researchers. She has trained and mentored numerous students, postdoctoral fellows, clinicians, and junior faculty pursuing careers in reproductive health and broader, multidisciplinary research careers, both in the U.S. and internationally. Her considerable skills and generosity have helped to launch rewarding careers in women’s health and medicine for many of her mentees.

"Through her high-impact research designed to inform public policy and improve clinical practice in reproductive health, Dr. Harper exemplifies the goals of the Darroch award," says Dr. Susheela Singh, Guttmacher vice president for research. "At a time when evidence-based policy is more important than ever, Dr. Harper’s work has been instrumental in guiding and shaping some of the major policy advances of this decade."

The Darroch Award was established in 2005 to recognize excellence among sexual and reproductive health researchers who are in the early or middle years of their careers. It is named for Jacqueline E. Darroch, Ph.D., formerly senior vice president for science at Guttmacher and currently a senior fellow at the Institute, whose three decades at Guttmacher have exemplified rigorous and innovative work on sexual and reproductive health issues and a commitment to the practical application of research to policy and programs. The award is presented biennially.

Past recipients have included:

  • 2005: Elizabeth G. Raymond, researcher at Family Health International and practicing obstetrician-gynecologist.
  • 2007: Sandra G. García, director of reproductive health for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Population Council.
  • 2009: Kelly Blanchard, president of Ibis Reproductive Health.
  • 2011: Eric Buhi, assistant professor of community and family health at the University of Florida’s College of Public Health.

For more information about the award, click here.