Mary Stephenson

Department Head of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Theresa S. Falcon-Cullinan Professor, Director University of Illinois Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Program
Work Phone: 312.996.7006
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Biographical Info

Dr. Mary Stephenson is internationally renowned for her clinical and research expertise in recurrent pregnancy loss. She is double board-certified in both Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility, with additional training in reproductive immunology and genetics. She is an expert in the management of early pregnancy loss, recurrent pregnancy loss, fetal demise, Antiphospholipid Syndrome, autoimmune disorders in pregnancy, and recurrent IVF failure.

A tireless patient advocate, Dr. Stephenson emphasizes the importance of finding out why miscarriage occurs. She recommends sending miscarriage tissue for chromosome testing to determine whether the miscarriage was “explained”, due to an abnormal number of chromosomes, or “unexplained”, with correct number of chromosomes. Dr. Stephenson founded the University of Illinois Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Program, which offers comprehensive evaluation and management, and close monitoring of pregnancy in the first trimester. Click here to learn more about the UI Health Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Program.

For over two decades, Dr. Stephenson’s research has focused on therapeutic interventions for recurrent pregnancy loss and infertility. She led the largest clinical trial to date on the use of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) in recurrent miscarriage. Although the results showed IVIG was not of benefit, with preconception evaluation and close monitoring in early pregnancy, once an intrauterine pregnancy was seen on ultrasound a live birth rate of 94% was attained.

Presently, Dr. Stephenson is Site Investigator for two randomized trials:
• ACTorNOT Trial (NCT02152696) which compares three currently available management strategies for women with a persisting pregnancy of unknown location (PPUL)
• ALIFE2 Trial (NTR3361) which evaluates whether prophylactic low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) improves live birth rate in women with recurrent miscarriage and an inherited thrombophilia.

Dr. Stephenson has longstanding research collaboration with the University of British Columbia to identify submicroscopic additions or deletions to miscarriage chromosomes, with the ultimate aim of discovering “miscarriage genes”.

In 2017, the second edition of “Early Pregnancy” was published (Dr. Farquharson and Dr. Stephenson, Co-Editors, Cambridge University Press); this textbook embraces a multidisciplinary approach to the evaluation and management of recurrent pregnancy loss.

Dr. Stephenson is featured in the popular book by Jon Cohen, “Coming to Term: Uncovering the Truth about Miscarriage” (Rutgers University Press).

Dr. Stephenson is an Associate Editor for the journals Human Reproduction Update and Fertility & Sterility, and past Associate Editor for Human Reproduction. Dr. Stephenson is the International Advisor for the Early Pregnancy Special Interest Group for the European Society for Human Reproduction & Embryology (ESHRE). She is the Founding Chair of the Early Prengancy Special Interest Group for the American Society of Reproductive Medicine.
In 2016, Dr. Stephenson became President of the International Gynecologic Society.

Dr. Stephenson has been awarded Best Doctors® (top 5% nationally) since 2005, America’s Top Doctors® Castle Connolly’s (top 1% nationally) since 2014, and Chicago Magazine’s Top Doctors for Women: Reproductive Endocrinology (top 1% in Chicago) since 2014.

Selected Recent Publications

Buyon JP, Kim MY, Guerra MM, Lu S, Reeves E, Petri M, Laskin CA, Lockshin MD, Sammaritano LR, Branch DW, Porter TF, Sawitzke A, Merrill JT, Stephenson MD, Cohn E,  Salmon JE. Kidney outcomes and risk factors for nephritis (flare/de novo) in a multiethnic cohort of pregnant patients with lupus. Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. 2017; Epub Apr 11.

Stephenson MD, McQueen D, Winter M, Kliman JH. Luteal start vaginal micronized progesterone improves pregnancy success in women with recurrent pregnancy loss. Fertility & Sterility 2017;107:684-690.

Burrows C, Kosova G, Herman C, Patterson K, Hartmann KE, Valez Edwards DR, Stephenson MD, Lynch VJ, Ober C. Expression quantitative trait locus mapping studies in mid-secretory phase endometrial cells identifies LHA-F and TAP2 as fecundability-associated genes. PLOS Genetics 2016;12:1-20.

Yelnik CM, Porter TF, Branch DW, Laskin CA, Merrill JT, Guerra MM, Lockshin MD, Buyon JP, Petri M, Sammaritano LR, Stephenson MD, Kim MY, Salmon JE. Brief report: changes in antiphospholipid antibody titers during pregnancy: effects on pregnancy outcomes. Arthritis & Rheumatology 2016;68:1964-1969.

Qiao Y, Wen J, Tang F, Martell S, Shomer N, Leung PC, Stephenson MD, Rajcan-Separovic E. Whole exome sequencing in recurrent early pregnancy loss. Molecular Human Reproduction 2016;22:364-72.

Kim MY, Buyon JP, Guerra MM, Rana S, Zhang D, Laskin CA, Petri M, Lockshin MD, Sammaritano LR, Branch Dw, Porter TF, Merrill JT, Stephenson MD, Gao Q, Karumanchi SA, Salmon JE. Angiogenic factor imbalance early in pregnancy predicts adverse outcomes in patients with lupus and antiphospholipid antibodies: results of the PROMISSE study. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology 2016;214:108.e1-14.

Gammill HS, Stephenson MD, Aydelotte TM, Nelson JL. Microchimerism in women with recurrent miscarriage. Chimerism 2015;5:103-105.

Buyon J, Kim M, Aslam A, Branch D, Cohn E, Garabet L, Guerra M, Laskin C, Lockshin M, Merrill J, Petri M, Porter T, Sammaritano L, Sawitzke A, Stephenson MD, Salmon J. Predictors of pregnancy outcomes in patients with lupus. Annals of Internal Medicine 2015;163:153-163.

Bagheri H, Mercier E, Qiao Y, Stephenson MD, Rajcan-Separovic E. Genomic characteristics of miscarriage copy number variants. Molecular Human Reproduction 2015;21:655-661.

Kosova G, Stephenson MD, Lynch VJ, Ober C. Evolutionary forward genomics reveals novel insights into the genes and pathways dysregulated in recurrent early pregnancy loss. Human Reproduction 2015;30:519-529.

Kolte AM, Bernardi LA, Christiansen OB, Quenby S, Farquharson RG, Goddijn M, Stephenson MD. Terminology for pregnancy loss prior to viability: a consensus statement from the ESHRE early pregnancy special interest group. Human Reproduction 2015;30:495-498

For a list of Dr. Stephenson’s publications, please click the following link:


Recent Presentations

Postgraduate Course, Preparing for Pregnancy and Genetic Testing: What Should You Consider? The 72nd Annual Meeting of the America Society for Reproductive Medicine, Salt Lake City UT, October 2016.

Invited faculty, “Parental Chromosome Testing” and “Miscarriage Chromosome Testing and Cost/Benefit Analysis”

Reproductive Genetics Symposium, 13th International Congress on Human Genetics, Kyoto Japan, April 2016.
Co-Chair and invited faculty, “Genetics of Couples and Miscarriages in Recurrent Pregnancy Loss”

41st Annual DA Boyes Society Meeting & Obstetrics and Gynaecology Clinical Review, Vancouver Canada, November 2015.
Invited faculty, “Update on Evaluation and Management of Recurrent Pregnancy Loss”.

Interprofessional Postgraduate Course, Helping Patients Cope with the Psychological and Medical Sequelae of Recurrent Pregnancy Loss. The 71st Annual Meeting of the America Society for Reproductive Medicine, Baltimore MD, October 2015.
Invited faculty, ”Medical Causes of Recurrent Pregnancy Loss” and “Evaluation and Management of Recurrent Pregnancy Loss”
Debate, “Is IVF/PGS useful for recurrent pregnancy?”

The XXI Annual Meeting of the International Federation of Gynaecology & Obstetrics (FIGO) World Congress, Vancouver Canada, October 2015.
Invited faculty, “Recurrent pregnancy loss”.

The 31st Annual Meeting of the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), Lisbon Portugal, June 2015.
Invited faculty, “Recurrent Miscarriage: Optimizing Care and Research Opportunities”.

Distinguished Lecturer Series, Columbia University, New York NY, April 2015
“Recent Advances in Recurrent Pregnancy Loss” .


ZonMW VIDI grant, The Netherlands, “ALIFE2:  Anticoagulants for Living Fetuses in Women with Recurrent Miscarriage and an Inherited Thrombophilia”, Site Investigator.

Reproductive Medicine Network, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institutes of Health Research, “ACTorNOT:  Optimal Treatment for Women with a Persisting Pregnancy of Unknown Location: A Randomized Clinical Trial”, Site Investigator

March of Dimes, Illinois Branch, “Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait. Co-Investigator.

Categories: Global Women's Health Fellowship Faculty, Our Faculty, Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Faculty, Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility