Mary Dawn Koenig, PhD, RN, CNM

  • Assistant Professor

Born in Canada, I received my BSN from McMaster University, my MSN with a specialty in midwifery from Yale University, and my PhD in nursing from the University of Pennsylvania. I have a broad background in maternal and child health, with specific training and expertise in maternal and child health nursing and perinatal nutrition. My research focuses on maternal morbidities before and during pregnancy and how they impact birth outcomes and to lay the foundation for the identification and testing of effective interventions to reduce the incidence of iron deficiency in pregnant women. My long-term goal is to identify and differentiate pregnant women with frank iron deficiency from those with inflammation-mediated iron restriction, so that practitioners can accurately care for and treat problems related to low circulating iron in pregnancy. Low circulating iron has been associated with adverse birth outcomes, including preterm birth and low birth weight. Studies that examine the relationships between low circulating iron and birth outcomes contain two main problems: 1) studies do not account for or measure inflammation-mediated iron restriction, and 2) studies assume iron supplementation is an appropriate intervention for all problems relating to low circulating iron. I investigate how inflammation, the iron regulatory hormone hepcidin, and genetic factors in the placenta determine the flow of iron in both the maternal and fetal systems. My goal is to develop innovative, safe, and effective therapies that will optimize maternal and fetal iron bioavailability. I have received intramural and extramural support for my research, including a grant from the UIC Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences, the Midwest Nursing Research Society, Sigma Theta Tau International, the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nursing, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Current Area of Teaching
  • NURS 515 Evidence Based Practice I
Selected Honors & Awards
  • 2010 Fellow, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Nursing Research, Summer Genetics Institute
  • 2013 Recipient, New Investigator Award, Midwest Nursing Research Society Women’s Health and Transitions in Childbearing Research Section
  • 2013-2015 Irving Harris Faculty Scholar
  • 2014 March of Dimes, Jonas Salk Health Leadership Award for Research
  • 2014 Daisy Foundation Faculty Award for Teaching
  • 2015-2017 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Nurse Faculty Scholar Program
Selected Publications
  • Welke, L., Koenig, M. D. (formerly Hennessy, M. D.), Thomson, J. L., Nemeth, E., White-Traut, R., McFarlin, B. L., Giurgescu, C., Engeland, C. G., Kominiarek, M., & Tussing-Humphreys, L. M., (2017). Iron metabolism in African American women in the second and third trimesters of high-risk pregnancies. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, 46(1), 123-134. doi:10.1016/j.jpgn.2016.06.013 
  • Koenig, M. D. (2017). Nutrient intake during pregnancy. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, 46(1), 120-122. doi:10.1016/j.apnr.2016.06.008 
  • Koenig, M. D., McFarlin, B. L., Steffen, A. D., Tussing-Humphreys, L. M., Giurgescu, C., Engeland, C. G., Kominiarek, M. A., Ciezczak-Karpiel, C., O’Brien, W., & White-Traut, R. (2017). Decreased nutrient intake is associated with cervical remodeling. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, 46(1), 123-134. doi:10.1016/j.jogn.2016.08.006 
  • Giurgescu, C., Engeland, C. G., Templin, T. N., Zenk, S. N., Koenig, M. D., & Garfield, L. (2016). Racial discrimination predicts greater systemic inflammation in pregnant African American women. Applied Nursing Research, 32, 98-103. doi:10.1016/j.apnr.2016.06.008 
  • DeVon, H. A., Pettey, C. M., Vuckovic, K. M., Koenig, M. D., & McSweeney, J. C. (2016). A review of the literature on cardiac symptoms in older and younger women. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, 45(3), 426-437. doi:10.1016/j.jogn.2016.02.002 
  • Eldeirawi, K., Koenig, M. D., Persky, V., & Chavez, N. (2014). Nativity and serum concentrations of antioxidants in Mexican American children: A cross-sectional study. Nutrients, 6(4), 1598-607. doi:10.3390/nu6041598 
  • Koenig, M. D., Tussing-Humphreys, L. M., Day, J., Cadwell, B., & Nemeth, E. (2014) Hepcidin and iron homeostasis during pregnancy. Nutrients, 6(8), 3062-3083. doi:10.3390/nu6083062 
  • Lee, K. A., Gay, C., Pullinger, C. R., Hennessy, M. D., Zak, R. S., & Aouizerat, B. E. (2014). Cytokine polymorphisms are associated with poor sleep maintenance in adults living with human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Sleep, 37(3), 453-63. doi:10.5665/sleep.3474 
  • Hennessy, M. D., Zak, R. S., Gay, C. L., Pullinger, C. R., Lee, K. A., & Aouizerat, B. E. (2014). Polymorphisms of interleukin-1 beta and interleukin-17 alpha genes are associated with restless legs syndrome. Biological Research for Nursing, 16(2), 143-51. doi:10.1177/1099800413478827 
  • Hennessy, M. D. & De La Torre, F. A. (2013). Heredity of restless legs syndrome in a pregnant population. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, 42(6), 737-748. doi:10.1111/1552-6909.12248 
  • Giurgescu, C., Kavanaugh, K., Norr, K. F., Dancy, B. L., Twigg, N., 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(1), 1-15. doi:10.1097/JPN.0b013e31828363c3 
  • Hennessy, M. D., Volpe, S. L., Sammel, M. D., & Gennaro, S. (2010). Skipping meals and less walking among African Americans diagnosed with preterm labor. Journal of Nursing Scholarship. 42(2), 147-155. doi:10.1111/j.1547-5069.2010.01345. 
  • Gennaro, S. & Hennessy, M. D. (2003). Psychological and physiological stress: Its impact on preterm birth. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing, 32(5), 668-675. doi:10.1177/08842175032574
Current Research
  • UIC College of Applied Health Sciences, Internal Pilot Program Papautsky (PI) 01/01/2018-12/31/2018 
  • Examining breastfeeding education: considering the patient context 
  • This pilot grant examines the patient context in breastfeeding education by a lactation consultant in a hospital. 
  • Role: Co-Investigator