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Photo of McFarlin, Barbara

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


Department of Human Development Nursing Science


Building & Room:

838 NURS


845 S. Damen Ave., MC 802, Chicago, IL 60612

Office Phone:



Preterm birth (PTB) is defined as birth before 37 completed weeks’ gestation (wks GA). Annually in the U.S., more than 440,000 infants are born preterm, and over 80,000 are born very preterm (prior to 32 wks). Consequences of PTB for survivors are severe, can be life-long and cost society $30 billion annually, a cost that far exceeds that of any major adult diagnosis. Predicting women at risk for sPTB has been medically challenging due to: 1) lack of signs and symptoms of preterm labor until intervention is too late, and 2) lack of sufficiently sensitive screening tools to signal sPTB risk early enough when an intervention would likely be effective. Spontaneous preterm labor is a syndrome associated with multiple etiologies of which only a portion may be associated with cervical insufficiency; however, regardless of the etiology of PTB, the cervix must remodel for passage of the fetus.

Novel QUS technology has been developed by our multidisciplinary investigative team and shows promise for becoming a widely available and useful method for early detection of spontaneous preterm birth (sPTB). QUS technology is a feature that can readily be added to current clinical ultrasound systems, thereby reducing the time from basic science innovation translation to improve clinical care of women. Our pilot studies show that women who experienced sPTB have a significantly lower ultrasonic attenuation (ATTEN) at 20 wks GA (relative to full-term women at 20 wks), and ATTEN at 20 wks more accurately predicts sPTB than CL at 24 wks. When both ATTEN and CL measures are combined, sPTB prediction is improved.

Selected Grants

National Institutes of Health/NICHD, “QUS technology for identifying at-risk women for spontaneous preterm birth.”, co-PI with William D. O'Brien Jr.

Burroughs Welcome, "Investigating the mechanobiology of cervical remodeling using a novel combination of optical microscopy and nanoindentation.”, co-I

Selected Publications

Manuck TA, Fry RC, McFarlin BL. Quality Improvement in Perinatal Medicine and Translation of Preterm Birth Research Findings into Clinical Care. Clin Perinatol. 2018 Jun;45(2):155-163. doi: 10.1016/j.clp.2018.01.003. Epub 2018 Feb 23. Review. PMID:29747880


Mogos, M.F. Piano, M.R., McFarlin, B.L., Salemi, J., Liese, K., Briller, J. Heart failure in pregnant women: A concern across the pregnancy continuum. Circulation: Heart Failure, 11,(1), 2018.


Mogos M.F., Salemi J.L., Spooner K.K., McFarlin B.L., Salihu H.H. Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and postpartum readmission in the United States: National Surveillance of the revolving door. Journal of Hypertension. 36(3), 608-618, 2018.


#Maeder A.B., Vonderheid S.C., Park C.G., Bell A.F, McFarlin B.L., Vincent C, Carter C.S.. Titration of Intravenous Oxytocin Infusion for Postdate Induction of Labor Across Body Mass Index Groups. JOGNN. 46, 494-507:2017.


#Thornton P., *McFarlin B.L., Park C., Rankin K., Schorn M., Stapleton S., Finnegan L. Cesarean Outcomes in U.S. Birth Centers and Collaborating Hospitals: A Cohort Comparison. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, 62,40-48:2017.


Koenig M.D., McFarlin B.L., Steffan A., Tussing-Humphreys L., Giurgescu C., Engeland C., Kominiarek M., Strom B., Ciezczak, O’Brien W.D., Norr K., White-Traut R.C.  Decreased Nutrient intake is Associated with Cervical Remodeling. JOGNN, 46, 124-134:2017.


#Welke L., Koenig M.D., Thomson J., Nemeth E., White-Traut R.C., McFarlin BL, Giurgescu C., Engeland C., Kominiarek M., *Tussing-Humphreys L. Iron metabolism in African American women during the 2nd and 3rd trimester of a high-risk pregnancy, JOGNN, 46,148-158:2017.


Mogos M.F., Salemi J.L., Spooner K.K., McFarlin B.L., Salihu H.M. Differences in mortality after cardiopulmonary resuscitation between pregnant and non-pregnant women. Obstetrics and Gynecology.  128(4), 880-8:2016.


#Wei J.,* McFarlin B.L., *Wagoner Johnson, A. A multi-indent approach to detect the surface of soft materials during nanoindentation. Journal of Materials Research.  31(17),  2672-2685:2016.


Fullerton J., Sipe T., Hastings-Tolsma M., McFarlin B.L., Bright C., Ferrel L., Krulewitch C.  American Midwifery Certification Board and American College of Nurse Midwives Workforce Data of Certified Nurse Midwives. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health. 60(3); 751-761:2015.

Publication Aggregators

Notable Honors

2015, Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, American Academy of Nursing

2012, Jonas Salk Research Award, March of Dimes, Illinois March of Dimes

2010, Fellow, American College of Nurse Midwives, American College of Nurse Midwives


BSN University of Illinois at Chicago 1974
MS (Nurse Midwifery) University of Illinois at Chicago 1982
PhD University of Illinois at Chicago 2005

Licensures and Certifications

Register Nurse - Illinois

Advance Practice Registered Nurse- Illinois

Certified Nurse Midwife - American Midwifery Certification Board

Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer - American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers

Professional Memberships

American Academy of Nursing

American College of Nurse Midwives

American Nurses Association

Research Currently in Progress

McFarlin, B.L. (co-PI), O’Brien, W.D. Jr. (co-PI). “QUS technology for identifying at-risk women for spontaneous preterm birth (sPTB).”

NIH NICHD $1,833,505 (Direct costs). 9-11-2017 – 5-31-2022.  Over a five year period we will enroll 800 pregnant women. Our goals are to identify: 1) women at risk for sPTB earlier and with better accuracy than with CL alone, and 2) differences between women who do/do not respond to progestogen therapy


Toussaint, K. (PI), Wagoner Johnson A.J. (PI), McFarlin B.L. (co-I). Investigating the mechanobiology of cervical remodeling using a novel combination of optical microscopy and nanoindentation.”

Burroughs Welcome Fund. $600,000 (Direct costs).