Mary Dawn Koenig, PhD, RN, CNM

  • Assistant Professor

My research is focused on maternal nutritional status and its effect on birth and maternal outcomes, specifically focusing on iron metabolism and its disorders. Hepcidin, a newly identified regulator of iron homeostasis, blocks gastrointestinal absorption of iron and lowers circulating iron levels and availability of iron to the placenta, fetus, and maternal circulation. Hepcidin is upregulated by increased inflammation and iron loading. My research aims to determine the relationships among iron metabolism, hepcidin, inflammation, and their effects on birth and maternal outcomes. The findings will provide crucial information to clinicians to identify which patients would best respond to iron therapy.

Current Area of Teaching
  • NURS 515 Evidence Based Practice I
  • NURS 594 Special Topics in Genetics
Selected Honors & Awards
  • Irving Harris Facutly Scholar, 2013-2015
  • Faculty Research Award, University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Nursing, 2012, 2013
  • George H. Miller Chancellor’s Award, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2011
  • National Institute of Nursing Research Summer Genetics Institute, June 2010
  • National Institute of Health T32 Postdoctoral Fellowship (T32-NR-07088) Research Center for Symptom Management, 2008-2010 
  • National Institute of Health T32 Predoctoral Fellowship (T32-NR-007100) Research on Vulnerable Women, Children, and Families, 2002-2005
  • Research Grant Award, Sigma Theta Tau International Xi Chapter, 2005
  • Patricia Smith Christensen Scholarship Award, Sigma Theta Tau International, 2001-2002
  • Larkin Estate Award for Undergraduate Nursing, 1992-1996
Selected Publications

Manuscripts (Peer reviewed):

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 16 (6) 1598-1607.

Hennessy, M.D. & De La Torre F. (2013). Heredity of Restless Legs Syndrome in a Pregnant Population.  Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing 42 (6) 737-748.

Hennessy, M.D., Zack, R.S., Gay, C.L., Pullinger, C.R., Lee, K.A., & Aouizerat, B.E. (2014). Polymorphisms of Interleukin-1 Beta and Interleukin-17A Genes are Associated with Restless Legs Syndrome . Biological Research for Nursing 16 (2) 143-151.

Lee, K.A., Gay, C., Pullinger, C.R., Hennessy, M.D., Zak, R., & Aouizerat, B. (2014). Cytokine Polymorphisms are Associated with Poor Sleep Maintenance in Adults Living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Aquired Immunodeficency Syndrome . SLEEP 37 (3) 453-463.

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(1): 1-15. doi: 10.1097/JPN.0b013e31828363c3

Hennessy, M.D., Volpe, S., Sammel, M., & 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.x.

Gennaro, S. and 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: 10.1177/0884217503257484


Hennessy, M.D., & Lee, K. (2011). Micronutrient Intake and Anthropometrics in Geographically Similar Women. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, 40(S85-S119), S88.

Hennessy, M.D., & Lee, K. (2010). Anthropometrics and Macronutrient Intake among Midlife Women. Journal of Women’s Health, 19(3), 615.


Current Research

Funded research:

Hepcidin, Iron Bioavailability and its Role in Birh Outcomes. Sigma Theta Tau International, Inc. 8/1/2013-7/31/2014 $2,500 Role: PI

Hepcidin, Iron Bioavailability and its Role in Birth Outcomes. Association of Women's Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) 6/1/2013-5/31/2014 $10,000 Role: PI

Pathways to Preterm Birth: STress, Inflammation, & Cervical Remodeling Grant # CCTS0811-02 UIC Center for Clinical and Translational Science 8/1/2011-7/31/2013 $60,000 Role: Co-I

Psychological Stress and Hepcidin: Link to Birth Outcomes. Midwest Nursing Research Society, New Investigator Grant. 4/1/2012-3/31/2013 $10,000 Role: PI

Nutrient and Inflammatory Processes of Preterm Birth. Internal Research Support Program. 4/1/2011-3/31/2012 $10,000 Role: PI