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The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at IU School of Medicine made remarkable advancements in research, clinical care and education under the leadership of Dr. Jeffrey Peipert from 2016-2024.

OB-GYN department made record advancements under Peipert’s leadership

Dr. Peipert, wearing white coat, talks to learners in a classroom

Jeffrey Peipert, MD, PhD, was a strong leader for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at IU School of Medicine from 2016-2024.

Jeffrey Peipert, MD, PhD, knew he was taking on a challenge when he became chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Indiana University School of Medicine in 2016. Many faculty had retired or left to pursue positions elsewhere, including the entire gynecologic oncology division. There were just 35 faculty members left.

“I love to build,” Peipert said. “I really embraced the challenge of wanting to rebuild the department.”

Eight years later, the department has grown to 65 faculty physicians, midwives and scientists, including several researchers with the IU Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center. OB-GYN faculty are also engaged in research related to musculoskeletal health, neurological diseases, pharmacology, global health and other areas of maternal and child health.

A fellowship program in gynecology oncology is on the near horizon.


Dr. Peipert sits at a table with four women researchers going over papers

“The thing I’m most proud of is the growth of the oncology division,” Peipert said. “Under Dr. (Lisa) Landrum’s leadership, to see that division grow and flourish is incredible. I’m very proud of that.” 

The department has ranked as high as 11th among all OB-GYN departments in the U.S. for funding through the National Institutes of Health — a dramatic rise from its unimpressive 42nd place ranking in 2016 when Peipert took over as chair. He believes IU can break into the Top 10.

“The supportive environment that he helped foster and the focus on promotion and scholarship all helped to create a situation in the OB-GYN department that allowed for more grant writing, presentations and publications,” said David M. Haas, MD, MS, the department’s vice chair for research. “This investment came in the form of helping to recruit and support both translational scientists and clinical researchers.”

A female scientist looks into a microscope with a computer next to her showing the slide imageBefore coming to IU, Peipert was vice chair of clinical research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, where he led the Contraceptive Choice Project. He is an internationally renowned physician-scientist who has garnered $23.2 million in research funding from public and private sources and has co-authored over 300 publications.

Along the way, he’s made a lot of connections. He recruited Christina Scifres, MD, who was in her early career at Washington University when Peipert was chair, to lead IU’s Maternal Fetal Medicine division, specializing in complicated pregnancies. Scifres suggested he contact Landrum about rebuilding the oncology program. Landrum, MD, PhD, came to IU in 2021 following 11 years on faculty with the University of Oklahoma.

“I felt confident that since the program had once been strong that it could again rise with support from the department chair, the National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center and IU Health,” said Landrum, who is the Mary Fendrich Hulman Professor of Gynecology and Oncology at IU School of Medicine and a researcher with the IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center. She leads several clinical trials with IU Health.

Dr. Lisa Landrum headshot

Now Landrum is acting as interim chair while a national search is underway for the next chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at IU School of Medicine. After eight years as department leader, Peipert is heading to the University of Vermont, where he will chair the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine. 

“Dr. Peipert’s legacy is stability in the department with strong leaders in all vice chair and division director positions,” Landrum said. “This stability has allowed there to be tremendous clinical growth, particularly in maternal fetal medicine and obstetrical numbers, as well as the growth of the gynecology oncology group.”

She hopes to continue advancing the initiatives Peipert launched in research, clinical care and education, including efforts to build a faculty that better represents the population it serves.


Better care for Indiana women and babies

Under Peipert’s leadership, the OB-GYN department expanded its clinical expertise and improved the quality of its education programs.

Dr. Peipert leans over a female resident's desk to work on a computer during trainingOne of the department’s greatest accomplishments has been an impressive rise in IU medical students’ scores on the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) exam in obstetrics and gynecology. Over the last six years, exam scores have gone from the 32nd percentile to the 61st percentile — catapulting the OB-GYN department from the worst performing to the best performing department at IU School of Medicine by this metric.

“We also have an excellent mentoring program for IU School of Medicine students and a great track record of scholarly presentations and publications in education,” said Anthony Shanks, MD, the department’s vice chair of education.

He came to IU shortly before Peipert, but their association goes back to 2006 when Shanks was a third-year resident at Washington University and Peipert was on faculty.

“He was approachable, knowledgeable and had an uncanny ability to lead you to an answer,” Shanks said. “He wouldn't simply give it to you. … Dr. Peipert taught me to prove things.”

Three trainees work on a manikin while a female faculty member supervises, sitting on hospital bed in simulation centerUnder Peipert’s leadership at IU, the OB-GYN department’s residency program has flourished and taken on a commitment to diversity, inclusion and patient advocacy, Shanks said. The department also expanded its fellowship program in maternal-fetal medicine, which is directed by Shanks. The program was designed to fill a regional shortage of perinatologists and prepare physicians to care for all pregnant women, especially those with complicated pregnancies.

With the opening of the Riley Maternity Tower at Riley Hospital for Children in November 2021, faculty obstetricians have increased their annual number of deliveries by 28% over the last four years. The OB-GYN department also started a fetal intervention team in 2016.

“We have two specialists who help babies in utero when they need intervention to be born in a healthy state,” Peipert explained.

Patient referrals to the Riley Fetal Center and a new Gynecologic Specialty Care Clinic come from throughout the state. 

Dr. Kelly Kasper, wearing scrubs and IU logo jacket, talks with a Black patient in clinic

The OB-GYN department also has strong clinical programs and fellowship positions in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery, and in minimally invasive gynecologic surgery — using innovative procedures to lessen pain and shorten recovery time.

“We have grown our generalist and subspecialty divisions to be one of the leading referral sites in the state for complex women's health care,” said Kelly Kasper, MD, the department’s vice chair of clinical affairs and the division chief of Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery.

Considering the state of the OB-GYN department when Peipert took over in 2016, the progress has been remarkable, Kasper said.

“Dr. Peipert understood the importance of improving morale, stabilizing the department and focusing on recruitment,” she said.

In his parting comments to the department, Peipert told his IU colleagues that his goal was “to build a strong, balanced, OB-GYN department that can provide outstanding clinical care, educational opportunities, and extensive translational and clinical research in women's health.”

Surgical room with physicians in protective gear; Dr. Kasper leads surgery with trainees assisting

“I would say we have accomplished this goal and will continue to build upon it,” Kasper said. 

Peipert will be remembered as a leader who “harnessed the strengths of individuals within the department,” said Shanks. “His ultimate legacy is the strong department that he leaves behind.”

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Laura Gates

Laura is senior writer with the Office of Strategic Communications and loves to tell the stories of outstanding students, faculty and staff at IU School of Medicine. A native Hoosier, she has over 25 years of experience in communications, having worked with newspapers and other media organizations in Indiana and Florida, along with small businesses, community groups and non-profit organizations. Before joining IU School of Medicine in January 2020, she was editor-in-chief of a lifestyle magazine serving the community of Estero, Florida.

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.