Caitlin Gerdts, PhD, MHS
Caitlin leads the development and implementation of Ibis’s research agenda, and serves on the Senior Management Team. Dr. Gerdts is an epidemiologist by training and has contributed to the field of global reproductive health, rights, and justice through collaborative work on novel research methods; working alongside activists to document the safety and effectiveness of feminist abortion-accompaniment models for self-managed medication abortion (SMA) throughout pregnancy; championing the next generation of activist-researchers; and collaborating across movements in the US to develop user-centered technology innovations that expand inclusive, private, and secure access to comprehensive reproductive health information and care. Dr. Gerdts contributed to the Studying Accompaniment Feasibility and Effectiveness (SAFE) study—the researcher-activist collaboration which demonstrated that SMA with support from non-clinically trained abortion-accompaniers is as effective as clinician-managed medication abortion. Caitlin also served as a member of the Guidelines Development Group for the 2022 World Health Organization Abortion Care Guideline, which, relying on evidence from abortion-accompaniment groups (among others) fully recommends SMA through 12 weeks gestation, and includes non-clinically trained community health-workers as recommended providers for medication abortion.
Dr. Gerdts’ collaborative efforts to ensure access to inclusive, person-centered abortion care across settings and models are especially critical in the US as attacks on abortion continue to push clinic-based care out of reach for so many; abortion seekers and those who support them face criminalization disproportionately among those with marginalized identities; and mounting attacks on medication abortion spur the need for broader incorporation of misoprostol-only regimens to expand abortion access for all people.
Caitlin has authored/co-authored more than 100 peer reviewed publications, and is the recipient of the 2023 Society for Family Planning Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Gerdts received her undergraduate degree in Human Biology from Stanford University; a Masters in Health Sciences (MHS) in Population, Family, and Reproductive Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; and a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of California, Berkeley.