Rutgers University Scholar and Collaborator Receive Prestigious Grant for Health Policy Research

CAMDEN — A Rutgers University scholar and her collaborator have received a prestigious grant from a highly competitive, national funding program dedicated to addressing important health policy issues.

Margaret Marsh, a University Professor of history and Haddonfield resident, and Wanda Ronner, her sister and long-time co-author, have received one of eight awards through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research program.  The program challenges investigators to tackle major policy issues facing the United States, as well as wide-ranging concerns about the nation’s health and health care system.  Ronner is a professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. 

The Health Investigator Award will provide funding to support their research project “Infertility and Assisted Reproduction from the Development of in vitro Fertilization to the Present — Medicine, Culture, Policy, and Practice.”  Their study will result in a book on the contemporary history of assisted reproduction.

“The United States is the only developed nation with virtually no national policy on assisted reproduction,” Marsh says. “We want to understand how this state of affairs came about, what its effects have been, and what might be done to change the situation.  We’re also very interested in the impact of the unprecedented ways that families can now be created with the advent of new reproductive technologies.”

Marsh and Ronner will also examine the social and cultural forces that bear on patients, practitioners, egg and embryo donors, gestational surrogates, insurance providers, and legislators while exploring how reproductive research and practice have shaped changes in medical practice, family life, gender roles, marriage, socioeconomic class, and race.

“The demand for reproductive technologies continues to grow,” says Ronner, who also lives in Haddonfield.  “A significant issue is who has access to care, which insurance carriers cover treatment, and should infertility services be provided as part of regular health care.  These are just some of the many questions we hope to address.”

Marsh is the author of numerous articles and book chapters on topics ranging from the history of motherhood to the history of masculinity.  Her work has been published in journals such as the American Quarterly and the Journal of American History

She has written four books, including two with Ronner:  The Empty Cradle: Infertility in America from Colonial Times to the Present (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996) and The Fertility Doctor: John Rock and the Reproductive Revolution (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008).

Marsh is a former executive dean of the Rutgers University–Camden Faculty of Arts and Sciences and served as Rutgers University–Camden’s interim chancellor from 2007-09.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation created the Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research program in 1992 to support highly qualified researchers whose innovative ideas could contribute improvements to health care policy.

For more information about the program visit

Ed Moorhouse


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