Anu Manchikanti Gomez

2017 Winner

Position: Assistant Professor and Director
Organization: University of California, Berkeley
Current Location: United States, North America

PhD from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Maternal and Child Health

Additional Degrees and Certifications:
• MSc, Health, Population and Society, London School of Economics and Political Science
• BA, Journalism and Mass Communications, New York University

Awards Received:

Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00)
Awarding Organization:
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Date Awarded:
April 16, 2012

2nd Place Poster
Awarding Organization:
North American Forum on Family Planning
Date Awarded:
November 7, 2016

Doris Buffett Scholarship for the Prevention of Violence Against Women
Awarding Organization:
Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Date Awarded:
April 15, 2007

Anu Manchikanti Gómez is assistant professor at the School of Social Welfare and director of the Sexual Health and Reproductive Equity (SHARE) Program at the University of California, Berkeley. For more than 15 years, Dr. Gómez has worked as a health equity researcher with a focus on reproduction and sexuality throughout the life course. She has conducted research in the US and globally on diverse topics, including contraceptive use, abortion, HIV prevention, gender equity, transgender health, and violence against women and children. Dr. Gómez’s current research focuses on three areas: (1) the measurement and meaning of pregnancy planning; (2) understanding contraceptive decision-making within social, relational and structural contexts; (3) the integration of HIV prevention and reproductive health; and (4) evaluating the impact of and evidence base for policies related to reproductive health. Dr. Gómez earned her PhD in Maternal and Child Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2010. She also received an MSc in Health, Population and Society from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from New York University.

“Dr. Gomez’s work transcends geographic and disciplinary boundaries. Her research, like the young couples study and the LARC removal study, combine rigorous research methods with social justice. Her board service extends this beyond the academy.

– Lisa Stern, VP of Medical Services at Planned Parenthood Northern California

Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

I launched the Sexual Health and Reproductive Equity (SHARE) Program as a hub for rigorous, mixed methods research grounded in reproductive justice, human rights, and health equity perspectives. Our research centers the experiences of people most affected by reproductive oppression, particularly women of color and transgender people, and illuminates the impact of systems of inequity on reproductive freedom. For example, my work on long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) helped spark a rich conversation in the U.S. about the ways that policies and providers may unintentionally constrain reproductive autonomy, particularly among poor, young, and racial and ethnic minority-identified women. A lead-authored commentary on this topic has been cited 50 times in 3 years.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

So many life experiences brought me here, including growing up in Kentucky without sex education, not formally in school or informally from my immigrant parents. The women in my family have always been a source of motivation. My grandmother gave birth 14 times, with only 7 children surviving to adulthood. I’ve always known how privileged I am to have the resources to set my path in life and to be healthy—fundamental human rights that we all deserve and why I work in family planning.

Give one or two examples of how you display leadership in your family planning work.:

I challenge the conventional wisdom in family planning using rigorous, diverse research methods. My research has surfaced limitations of pregnancy intentions measures, findings I’ve effectively communicated to interdisciplinary researchers and clinicians. My nascent work on a California policy enabling pharmacists to prescribe contraception finds that few pharmacies are implementing this service, with important implications for advocacy efforts and other states considering similar policies.

If you are named a winner of 120 under 40, how will you use this new platform and the $1000 grant to advance your work?

I would launch new work regarding underlying tensions between providers’ roles and approaches that advance reproductive autonomy, such as over-the-counter contraceptive access and IUD self-removal. Unacknowledged, these tensions can weaken efforts to improve contraceptive access. This research will be translated into actionable insights to reduce inequities in FP care and access. As a committed educator, I will engage students in the research to develop the next generation of FP leaders.

Photos of the nominee in the field/at work