Dr. Susannah Hopkins Leisher
University of Utah School of Medicine
Dr. Susannah Hopkins Leisher is the mother of Wilder Daniel Leisher, stillborn at 38½ weeks on July 13, 1999, with no cause found. As a faculty member of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Utah, she is supporting the development of the first U.S. Center of Stillbirth Excellence in partnership with the Australian Stillbirth Centre of Research Excellence, where she has been a fellow since 2013. As a perinatal epidemiologist, global stillbirth advocate, longtime collaborator in the fight against poverty and injustice, and most especially as the mother of a stillborn baby, Susannah aims to ensure stillbirth remains front and center within our joint work to improve outcomes across the RMNCAH spectrum.
Susannah is ex officio chair of the International Stillbirth Alliance and co-chairs the Stillbirth Advocacy Working Group, founded by the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. She is a member of the ENAP/EPMM Management Team and co-chairs the ENAP/EPMM Advocacy and Accountability Working Group. Susannah holds a PhD in epidemiology from Columbia University. Her dissertation explored whether structural racism helps to explain Black-white disparity in stillbirth rates, and whether epigenetic modification of stress-related genes links maternal stress and stillbirth. Prior to her stillbirth career, Susannah spent 25 years working on global poverty alleviation in Asia, Africa and Central America, including ten years in Vietnam, where she was Oxfam Hong Kong’s Country Director; subsequently she led the global program for Trickle Up, an NGO focused on reducing extreme poverty. She also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal, teaching math in the Nepali language in a village one day’s hike from the nearest road.