Barbara McFarlin, PhD, CNM, RDMS, FACNM, FAAN

  • Professor
  • Department Head

Dr. McFarlin's program of research seeks to find noninvasive methods to determine risk for preterm birth. Her research has focused on an ultrasound method to detect cervical microstructural tissue changes leading to preterm birth long before a woman would have contractions, cervical shortening or ruptured membranes. Dr McFarlin first developed this method in studies of the pregnant rat cervix through her collaboration with engineers. She has translated these ultrasound methods for use in human pregnancy. In women destined for preterm birth, she was able to detect cervical changes already at 20 weeks of pregnancy. This technology could have a major impact on the incidence of preterm birth by identifying women who need intervention and monitoring interventions on a tissue level.

Dr. McFarlin, in collaboration with mechanical, civil and material sciences engineers, is studying new technologies (second harmonic imaging, elastography, nanoindention) to furhter understand the process of cervical remodeling in pregnancy. Furthermore, her team is working on methods (finite element modeling and tissue engineering) to model cervical remodeling in humans without using human cervical tissue biopsies.

Current Area of Teaching

Dr McFarlin guest lectures in the midwifery program. She also has taught Evidence Based Practice and Translating Evidence to Practice.

Selected Honors & Awards
  • 10/15 Fellow, American Academy of Nursing
  • 12/13  Fellow, Institute of Medicine of Chicago
  • 09/12 Jonas Salk Research Award, March of Dimes
  • 05/10 Fellow, American College of Nurse Midwives
  • 09/08 UIC Center for Clinical and Translational Science KL2 Award
Selected Publications
  • Thornton P, McFarlin BL, Park C, Rankin K, Schorn M, Finnegan L, Stapleton S. (Jan 2017) Cesarean Outcomes in US Birth Centers and Collaborating Hospitals: A Cohort Comparison. J Midwifery Womens Health. 62(1): 40-48. doi: 10.1111/jmwh.12553.
  • Koenig MD, McFarlin BL, Steffen AD, Tussing-Humphreys L, Giurgescu C, Engeland CG, Kominiarek MA, Ciezczak-Karpiel C, O'Brien WD Jr, White-Traut R. (Jan - Feb 2017)  Decreased Nutrient Intake Is Associated With Premature Cervical Remodeling. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 46(1):123-134. doi: 10.1016/j.jogn.2016.08.006.
  • Welke L, Koenig MD, Thomson JL, Nemeth E, White-Traut R, McFarlin BL, Giurgescu C, Engeland CG, Kominiarek MA, Tussing-Humphreys L. (Jan - Feb 2017)  Iron Metabolism in African American Women in the Second and Third Trimesters of High-Risk Pregnancies. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 46(1):148-158. doi: 10.1016/j.jogn.2016.06.013.
  • Mogos MF, Salemi JL, Spooner KK, McFarlin BL, Salihu HM. (Oct 2016)  Differences in Mortality Between Pregnant and Nonpregnant Women After Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. Obstet Gynecol. 128(4):880-8. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000001629.
  • Fullerton J, Sipe T, Hastings-Tolsma M, McFarlin BL, Bright C, Ferrel L, Krulewitch C.  (2015)  AMCB and ACNM Workforce Data of Certified Nurse Midwives. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health. 60(3), 751-761.
  • McFarlin BL,  Kumar V, Bigelow TA, Simpson DG, White Traut RC, Abramowicz JS, O’Brien, Jr., WD. (2015) Beyond cervical length: Cervical ultrasonic attenuation and cervical length during pregnancy. Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology. 41(11), 3023-3029.
  • McFarlin BL, Balash J, Kumar V, Bigelow TA, Pombar X, Abramowicz JS, O’Brien Jr. WD. (2015) Development of an ultrasonic method to detect cervical remodeling in vivo. Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology. Sep;41(9):2533-9.
  • Gabzdyl E, Engstrom JL, McFarlin BL. (2015). Eliminating Pelvic Examinations and Pap Screening for Adolescents Initiating Contraception. Nursing for Women’s Health. 19(3), 216-23.
  • Garfield L., Holditch-Davis D, Carter CS, McFarlin BL, Schwertz D, Seng J, Giurgescu C, White Traut RC. (2015). Risk factors for Postpartum Depressive Symptoms in Low-Income Women with Low Birth-Weight Premature Infants. Advances in Neonatal Care. 15, E 3-8.
  • Garfield, L., Giurgescu, C.,  White-Traut, R. C., Carter, C, S., Holditch-Davis, D., McFarlin, B. L., Schwertz, D., Seng, J. S. (2015). Depressive Symptoms in the Second Trimester relate to Low Oxytocin Levels in African American Women: A pilot. Archive in Women’s Mental Health. 18, 123-129.
  • Kumar V, Bigelow TA, McFarlin BL. (2014)Cervical Attenuation as a Measure of Preterm Delivery: Impact of Different Regions of Interest Sizes. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 34-237.
  • Sanguanklin N, McFarlin BL, Park CG, Giurgescu C, Finnegan L, White-Traut R, Engstrom JL. (Jun 24 2014). Effects of the 2011 Flood in Thailand on Birth Outcomes and Perceived Social Support. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs   doi: 10.1111/1552-6909.12466. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:24956975
  • Garfield L, Giurgescu C, Carter CS, Holditch-Davis D, McFarlin BL, Schwertz D, Seng JS, White-Traut R. Depressive symptoms in the second trimester relate to low oxytocin levels in African-American women: a pilot study. Arch Womens Ment Health. (2014 Jun 21)   [Epub ahead of print] PMID:24952070
  • Sanguanklin N, McFarlin B.L., Park C., Giurgescu C., Finnegan L, Engstrom JL, White Traut RC. (12/2013, in press). Job Strain and Psychological Distress among Employed Pregnant Thai Women: The Role of Social Support and Coping Strategies. Archives in Women’s Mental Health.
  • Lau, T. Y., Sangha, H. K. Chien, E. K., McFarlin, B. L., Wagoner Johnson, A. J., Toussaint, K. C. (2013). Application of Fourier transform-second-harmonic generation imaging to the rat cervix. Journal of Microscopy. 251, 77-83.
  • Mahmoud, H. J., Wagoner Johnson A. J., Chien E. K., Poellmann M. J., McFarlin B. L. (2013). System-level biomechanical approach for the evaluation of term and preterm pregnancy maintenance.  Journal of Biomechanical Engineering, 135.
  • Giurgescu C., Kavanaugh K, Norr K. F., Dancy B. L., Twigg N. M., McFarlin B. L., Engeland C. G, Hennessy M. D, White Traut, R. C. (2013). Stressors, resources and stress responses in pregnant African American women: A mixed methods pilot study. Journal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing. 27, 81-96.
  • Poellmann M. J., Chien E. K., McFarlin B. L., Wagoner Johnson A. J. (2013) Mechanical and structural changes of the rat cervix in late-stage pregnancy. Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials.17, 66-75.
  • Giurgescu C., McFarlin B. L., Lomax J., Craddock C., Albrecht A. (2011). Racial discrimination and the Black-White gap in birth outcomes: A review. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, 56, 362-370.
  • Garcia R., Vonderheid S., McFarlin B. L., Djonlich M., Jang C., Maghirang J. (2011). Cost and infant health outcomes associated with mandatory MRSA screening in a Special Care Nursery. Advances in Neonatal Care, 11, 200-207.
  • Kishi, R., McElmurry, B., Vonderheid, S., Altfeld, S., McFarlin, B. L. & Tashiro, J. (2011). Japanese translation and cultural adaptation of U.S. “Listening to Mothers-II” questionnaire. Journal of Perinatal Education, 20, 14-27.
  • Kishi, R., McElmurry, B., Vonderheid, S., Altfeld, S., McFarlin, B. L., & Tashiro, J.  (2011). Japanese women’s experiences from pregnancy through early postpartum period. Health Care for Women International, 32, 57-71.
  • Labyed, Y., Bigelow, T. A., & McFarlin, B. L. (2011). Estimate of the attenuation coefficient using a clinical array transducer for the detection of cervical ripening in human pregnancy. Ultrasonics, 51, 34-39.
  • McFarlin, B. L,, Bigelow, T. A., Labyed, Y., O’Brien, W. D., Jr., Oelze, M.L., & Abramowicz, J.F. (2010). Ultrasonic attenuation estimation of the pregnant cervix. Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 36, 218-225.
  • Carter, L. E., Ulery, M.A., McFarlin, B. L., & Giurgescu .C. (2009). Pregnancy associated breast cancer: Significance of early detection. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, 54, 357-363.
  • Boucher, D., Bennett, C., McFarlin, B. L., & Freeze, R. (2009). Staying home to give birth: Why women in the United States choose home birth. Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health, 54, 119-126.
Current Research
  • "Multi-Omics approach toward identification of metabolic biomarkers of vaginal microbiome."
  • “Pathways to Preterm Birth: Stress, Inflammation, & Cervical Remodeling”.
  • "Application of Fourier transform-second-harmonic generation imaging to the rat cervix."
  • "System-level biomechanical approach for the evaluation of term and preterm pregnancy maintenance."
  • "Prediction of pelvic prolapse with ultrasonic attenuation."