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ASPIRE:

Advancing Science & Practice Through Innovations in Research & Education

Our Mission

ASPIRE works to advance excellence and equity in sexual and reproductive health and wellbeing. Core to this goal are efforts to destigmatize sexual health along with access to sex education and the full range of care, including abortion.  

 ASPIRE builds knowledge and skills and supports work to advance policies to combat systemic barriers disproportionately preventing Black, Indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC), LGBTQ+ people, young people, and people with disabilities from accessing quality sexual and reproductive health care.  

 These goals are achieved through clinical and social science research, evidence-based professional education, and clinical training, both independently and in partnership with academic institutions, teaching hospitals, health care professionals, social service and community-based organizations, schools, educators, and peer institutions.  

ASPIRE CENTER PROGRAMS 

Research

Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts hosts an award-winning, nationally recognized Clinical and Social Science Research program, based out of our Boston Health Center.  Started in 2005 under the leadership and direction of Dr. Alisa Goldberg, the Research Department has been steadfast in its commitment to actively pushing patient care forward and expanding access to abortion and contraception through the conduct of highest-quality clinical research that directly addresses the needs of our patients. In 2016, the scope of our program expanded to include Social Science research. Under the direction of Dr. Elizabeth Janiak, our Social Science research program employs rigorous social science methodologies to identify and disrupt barriers to and inequities in care.   

Clinical Research
  • Our work has focused on improving access to medication abortion by exploring different routes of medication administration, simplifying follow-up, and expanding the pool of patients eligible for this safe and effective service. We have also completed a variety of projects focused on improving pain control for women undergoing surgical abortion or IUD insertion, studies of cervical preparation before procedural abortion, as well as studies that seek to improve the effective use of contraception, expand contraceptive options and point-of-care access. 

  • PPLM also partners with Brigham and Women’s Hospital to co-host the Complex Family Planning Fellowship Program. The Complex Family Planning Fellowship program is a nationwide, ACGME-accredited training program for Ob/Gyn physicians to receive subspecialty clinical training in abortion and contraception care, training in clinical research methods and implementation, as well as preparation for academic and leadership careers. Our first fellow began in July 2005, with a new fellow starting the two-year program each July ever since. Research projects designed by Fellows, under the mentorship of Dr. Goldberg and conducted at PPLM, have been published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at national and international conferences. 

  • Through ASPIRE, we will further expand our Research program and our continued efforts to improve and expand care and access. Through committed work and supportive collaborations, through skill-building and skill-sharing, through development of both ideas and people, we hope to elevate both the research and researchers in the field, and to act as a launching pad for research trainees and research agendas alike.  

  • Please click here to see a list of selected clinical research publications recently published by PPLM investigators and staff.  

Social Science Research
  • Added 6 years ago and led by Elizabeth Janiak, ScD, PPLM’s social science research program is affiliated with BWH and Harvard T.H. Chan school of Public Health and is one of only six in the Federation. The passage of the ROE Act in Massachusetts was bolstered by Dr. Janiak’s research showing the significant impact on young people of color who were disproportionately affected by Massachusetts’ parental consent law. This research was also cited in legislative testimony, news coverage, and in multiple editorials calling for the law's repeal, including The Boston Globe. 

  •  Dr. Janiak also joined an amicus brief in June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo, the 2020 Supreme Court case in which the Court ruled that a Louisiana state law placing hospital-admission requirements on abortion providers was unconstitutional.  

  • Dr. Janiak recently received funding to study the impact that abortion bans will have on young people with multiple marginalized identities who now must travel out of state to receive abortion care. 

  • The launch of the ASPIRE Center will allow PPLM to support such research and have a greater impact on the national landscape of sexual and reproductive health care and advocacy. 

  • Below please find selected social science research conducted by PPLM staff, as well as news coverage and conference presentations about the research: 

Professional Education 

Get Real: Comprehensive Sex Education That Works is the PPLM-authored middle school curriculum and the only Planned Parenthood sex education curriculum included on the U.S. Health and Human Services list of evidence-based programs due to its proven effectiveness. The curriculum is also the first of its kind to be approved as a CASEL SELect program, for its foundation in social-emotional learning skills. Get Real has been selected by over 600 schools in 44 states and 6 countries, and has trained over 1200 educators.  

In addition to Get Real training, the Get Real and Professional Training Institute offers research-based multi-day, full-day, and half-day training opportunities on a variety of sex education topics including but not limited to: protection methods, creating LGBTQ+ inclusive spaces, puberty education, sex education for people with IDD, working with parents, answering student questions, abortion, and more.  

Through ASPIRE, we will partner with Planned Parenthood affiliates and other educators on the ground in states with abortion bans to deliver the Get Real middle and high school curricula, as well as expand Get Real delivery in states who support comprehensive sex education and access to sexual and reproductive healthcare, including abortion. We also plan to offer research-informed, classroom-style clinical training opportunities in collaboration with our research and clinical training colleagues. 

To learn more about Get Real go to getrealeducation.org. You can find all upcoming Professional Education opportunities here: pplm.org/training 

Clinical Training 

PPLM currently provides the following clinical trainings: 

  1. Surgical abortion care for OB/GYN fellows 

  1. Medical abortion training for family doctors and nurse practitioners 

  1. Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) training for doctors and advanced practice clinicians 

  1. Ultrasound skills for emergency room residents  

  1. A nursing program practicum affiliated with the MGH Institute of Health Professionals 

We see a burgeoning need for more clinical training, especially as many red and purple states reduce abortion care. OB/GYNs and family medicine practitioners in many parts of the country will need to seek training outside their residency programs in order to be properly trained for routine procedures. Additionally, since abortion access will be severely limited or worse in more than half the states in the country, the more hospitable states will need to increase availability of effective birth control. We have seen increased demand for LARC training even in Massachusetts, and we expect the demand beyond MA to increase. PPLM has developed a process to provide that training. Under ASPIRE, PPLM aims to expand our ability to deliver these trainings. 

ASPIRE Center Staff 

MaryRose Mazzola, JD MPP 

Director of the ASPIRE Center at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts 

Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government 

Alisa B. Goldberg, MD, MPH 
 

Vice President, Research and Clinical Training at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts  


Associate Professor, Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology at Harvard Medical School 


Director, Division of Family Planning and Complex Family Planning Fellowship at Brigham and Women's Hospital  

Elizabeth Janiak, ScD, MSc, MA 

Director of Social Science Research at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts  

Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health 

Lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

Hilary Towle, Ed.M. 
 

Professional Trainer at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts 

Jen Fortin, MPH 

Director of Research Operations at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts 

Jennifer Hart, MPH 
 

Vice President of Education at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts 

Michelle Jiménez Soto, MPH 

Associate Director of Professional Education at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts 

Contact Us

MaryRose Mazzola, ASPIRE Center Director 

 

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