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Dear SFP fellows and colleagues,

The purpose of our year-end newsletter is to provide you with a brief overview of SFP’s recent activities—and to ask you to consider making a tax-deductible contribution to support SFP’s unique mission and operations throughout the year. You may designate your donation for a particular purpose or simply support our overall activities.

Annual meeting

In November, SFP convened our annual meeting in Denver in conjunction with the sixth annual North American Forum on Family Planning, produced in partnership with Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP). We were pleased with attendance of nearly 1,300—almost a 30% increase since the previous year—as well as with the overall results and the feedback from attendees. The Forum continues to serve as the premier family planning conference in North America.

Over 90% of 2016 Forum attendees plan to attend the Forum in the future.

Over 90% of 2016 Forum attendees who offer clinical care report that, thanks to the Forum, they are better able to integrate and apply the most current scientific research into clinical practice.

2016 Forum attendees have many highlights from the conference; commonly applauded sessions include the session on transforming health and healthcare for transgender patients and the debate on the intersection of family planning and HIV.

Another aspect of the meeting that is always a highlight is the annual SFP Awards Luncheon, and this year was one of the best in recent memory. We were delighted to recognize Dorothy Roberts, JD, with the SFP Lifetime Achievement Award, Beverly Winikoff, MD, MPH, with the Allan Rosenfield Award for Lifetime Contributions to International Family Planning, and Linda Prine, MD with the Robert A. Hatcher Family Planning Mentor Award.

The winner of this year’s Outstanding Researcher Award was SFP junior fellow Reni Soon, MD, MPH, for her abstract, “Paracervical block to decrease pain with second trimester laminaria insertion: a randomized controlled trial.” The winner of the Outstanding Researcher in Training Award was Gillian Horwitz, BS, for her abstract, BMI as predictor of adverse outcomes with moderate intravenous sedation during surgical abortion.”

Don’t miss the photos of the awards presentation at the end of this email!

Wendy Norman, MD, MHSc, first-place winner of Society of Family Planning 2016 poster awardsEve Espey, MD, PhD, and Anu Gomez, MD, MPH, second-place winners of Society of Family Planning 2016 poster awardsKelsey Holt, SD candidate, third-place winner of Society of Family Planning 2016 poster awards, SFP President-Elect Stephanie Teal to her left

Awards were also given for the top scientific posters. First place went to Wendy Norman, MD, MHSc (above left), for “Immediate vs. delayed insertion of intrauterine contraception after second trimester abortion: a Randomized Controlled Trial.” Second place was a tie between Eve Espey, MD, MPH, for “Breastfeeding continuation in postplacental vs. interval postpartum IUD insertion: the Breastfeeding Levonorgestrel IUD Study (BLIS) RCT” and Anu Gomez, MD, MPH, for “How long is long-acting? Recent trends in mean duration of intrauterine device use” (above center). Third place went to Kelsey Holt, SD candidate (above right, with award presenter SFP President-Elect Stephanie Teal to her left) for “Predictors of pregnancy options counseling and abortion referrals or dissuasion among United States primary care physicians: results from a national survey.” The winner of Best Translational Science Poster Abstract was Hadas Zachor, MD, for “Acceptability of a tailored computerized intervention to reduce adolescent relationship abuse in family planning clinics” (not shown).

Career Development Seminar

This year’s seminar began with a panel discussing funding opportunities for research on family planning. Panelists included Christine Clark, Program Officer in Global Development and Population at the Hewlett Foundation; Dr. Susan Newcomer, Extramural Program Staff at NICHD; and me.

For part two of the seminar, attendees selected from one of four workshops on concrete ways to secure funding:

Grant writing and Hewlett Foundation priorities related to reproductive health—Christine Clark, MPH; Kelli Hall, PhD, MS

Finding federal funding—E. Bimla Schwarz, MD, MS

Proposing early career development mentoring grants—Jeanelle Sheeder, PhD, MSPH

Navigating concerns related to submitting NIH applications on sensitive topics—Susan Newcomer, PhD

Strategic planning

As Dr. Eve Espey, SFP’s board President, reported at the annual SFP business meeting in November, the board and staff have engaged a consultant and embarked on a process to create a theory of change designed to guide our work over the next few years. We look forward to reporting on our progress in 2017.


SFP’s Director of Research & Evaluation, Dr. Amanda Dennis, is leading the effort to evaluate grants funded, as well as all of our programmatic work. What we learn from the evaluation process will be linked to our theory of change so that we may build upon our successes, some of which are listed below:

Our Clinical Practice Guidelines are perceived of as very high quality, and continue to provide advice that cannot be found elsewhere, such as best practices for medical management of first-trimester abortion, cervical dilation before first-trimester abortion, and cervical preparation for second trimester abortion.

Investigators supported by the SFP Research Fund (SFPRF) have published 150 scholarly products and are leveraging research to identify best practices in abortion care, improve medical training for family planning, increase access to contraception, support the abortion care work force, and map changes in social movements, among other activities.

Interviews with investigators highlight that there are many common barriers and facilitators to using research to make impact. Identified barriers and facilitators operate at the systems, SFPRF, organization, and Investigator level.

Competitive research program

Meanwhile, the SFP Research Fund’s competitive 2016 RFP resulted in allocations of more than $3.9 million for large and small research grants focused on family planning and abortion, including career development awards and student/trainee awards, as well as community-based participatory research (CBPR) grants and Interdisciplinary Innovation (I2) grants (both Phase I for planning and Phase II). (Read the study abstracts.)

Research discussion at the Forum

We continue to improve upon our well-regarded grant review process:

Applicants to SFPRF appreciate the feedback they receive on their proposals from peers, commonly reporting that the feedback helps improve grantsmanship and rigor.

Applicants and peer reviewers suggest SFPRF recruit additional grant reviewers with expertise in the following areas: qualitative, international, interdisciplinary, and community-based participatory research.

Investigators are leveraging research to make needed change:

Investigators are leveraging research in many different ways. For example, research funded by SFPRF has been used to identify best practices in abortion care, improve medical training for family planning, increase access to contraception, support the abortion care work force, and map changes in social movements.


Lastly, I’d like to thank you for your work throughout the year, and especially for supporting our mission to advance science in family planning, including contraception and abortion, by funding research and promoting the expansion and dissemination of evidence. We are fortunate to close 2016 with more than 730 fellows—an increase of about 100 over the past year.


Susan Higginbotham signature
Susan Higginbotham, MEd
Executive Director
Society of Family Planning &
the SFP Research Fund


SFP awardees