Perinatal Research

UNC now offers multiple research studies for pregnant and postpartum mothers.

Research Studies for Pregnant Women

Early Brain Development in Babies of Mothers with Bipolar Disorder, Schizoaffective Disorder, or Schizophrenia

Pregnant women with one of the above diagnoses can join this study. Women will receive ultrasounds at 22 and 32 weeks gestation, an MRI of their infant’s brain 2 weeks after birth and follow-up child developmental assessments and MRI's at 1, 2, 4 and 6 years of age (MRI brain scans involve no sedation, radiation or contrast). Participants receive $50 for each visit (potential total: $550) as well as travel and parking expenses. Transportation to UNC can be provided. For more information contact Dianne Evans at (919) 843-2389 or 866-849-0541 (


Partner Assisted Therapy or Antidepressant Medication for Depression During Pregnancy

We are conducting a study to compare a novel psychotherapy, Partner-Assisted Interpersonal Therapy (PA-IPT), with the standard of care, anti-depressant medication, in pregnant women with Major Depressive Disorder.  Therapy sessions and study-related medication will be provided free of charge.  We are looking for women who are 18-45 years old, 16-29 weeks pregnant, in a committed relationship with a partner willing to participate in the study, and currently feeling down, blue, or depressed.  Participants will receive up to $100.00 in gift cards for participating in evaluations throughout the study.  For more information please call 919-966-5728 or email:


Maternal Substance Use Study

Help us learn more about the effects of legal and illegal substances used during pregnancy on natural hormones, brain function and mother-baby relationships.  Currently recruiting women who are pregnant or have recently given birth who used NO legal or illegal substances (including alcohol, opiates, methadone or suboxone) during pregnancy, OR who used cocaine at any time during pregnancy.  Participation includes one study visit when infant is 2 to 4 weeks old, and two (optional) study visits when infant is 3 months old.  Participants earn up to $300 in Wal-Mart gift cards.  Free transportation or parking for study visits.  For more information, visit, call 919-966-2549, or email


Baby Brain Development Research Study

Help us determine the effects of cigarette smoke on baby brain development.  Currently recruiting women who are pregnant or have recently given birth who smoke cigarettes, OR live with someone who smokes, OR have never smoked cigarettes and live in a smoke free home. Participation will take about five hours over the course of 3 study visits. Moms earn up to $145. Free transportation or parking for study visits.  For more information, visit, call 919-843-3419 or email


Mood, Mother, and Infant Study

You are invited to help UNC researchers understand how breastfeeding builds bonds between mothers and babies. Pregnancy and the postpartum period is a time of great transition in a woman’s life.  Researchers from UNC Departments of Psychiatry and Obstetrics are hoping to understand the complex relationship between postpartum mood, breastfeeding, and infant wellbeing.


  • Receive a free medical evaluation
  • Requires 4 visits to UNC and 9 phone visits

Upon completion of all study visits, participants receive $465 in compensation.


  • Between 18-45 years of age?
  • Third trimester of pregnancy (34 – 37 weeks pregnant)?
  • Planning on breastfeeding your baby?

If interested, please visit our webiste or call (919-843-8084) or email Brenda

Research Studies for Postpartum Women


0 – 12 months postpartum

TMS and Postpartum Depression

We are looking for women who are interested in treating their postpartum depression with a non-medication treatment called Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). TMS is an effective, safe, non-invasive alternative treatment to medications for people with Major Depression. TMS is an FDA approved treatment for people suffering with depression, and the American Psychiatric Association has recently recommended TMS as a treatment modality for depression. TMS has not yet been studied extensively in women with postpartum depression, although one small study documented a benefit. Check out this interview with Dr. Susan Killenberg to learn more about how TMS works.


To participate in this research study, you must be between the ages of 18-45, have given birth to a single, healthy child within the past 12 months, be diagnosed with depression, and not be taking an antidepressant medication. The research study involves an intake assessment and treatment phase (daily TMS treatment visits for 4 weeks). For more information contact Brenda at (919) 843-8084 (

2 – 4 weeks and 3 months postpartum

Mother Baby Study
Maternal Cocaine Use During Pregnancy

Help us learn more about the effects of cocaine use during pregnancy and relationships between mother and baby. Brain Imaging (MRI) of sleeping infant’s brain at 2 to 4 weeks old (maximum 30 minutes, with no sedation). Interview and questionnaires for mother. One 3-hour lab visit for mother alone. One 3-hour lab visit for mother and baby at 3 months old. Mother will have blood pressure and heart activity measured and will have blood, urine and saliva samples taken. Baby will have saliva samples taken and a diaper insert will be used to collect baby urine. For completion of brain imaging, lab visits and 1 day of monitoring mother’s blood pressure at home, payment will be up to $300 as well as free parking. For more information contact Mala at: (919) 966-2549 (

12 - 24 months postpartum

Stress reactivity in Postpartum Women

For mothers 12-24 months postpartum who have normal menstrual cycles, are not taking medications or oral contraceptives, and are no longer breastfeeding. This study involves 3-4 visits to UNC. Participants receive $150 compensation and parking reimbursement. For more information contact Brenda at (919) 843-8084 (


> 12 months postpartum

NRAD Research Study

We are trying to learn how pregnancy hormones affect depression in women. You may be eligible to join if you:

• Are a healthy mother;
• Have given birth at least one year ago;
• Have regular periods;
• Are not currently pregnant or breastfeeding; and
• Either had depression during or after pregnancy or have never had depression.

In this study, we assess hormones, mood and brain activity. The study involves 13 visits to UNC over the course of 28 weeks. Participants receive a total of $2,500, a free medical exam and blood work, paid parking at UNC, and a personal report about the way hormones affect their mood.

To learn more and find out whether you qualify, please visit, or call Sarah at 919-966-5243. Thank you for your interest in our research!