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447 College of Nursing

Dr. Kristin Ashford received her BSN from Washburn University, Topeka, Kan., and a master's degree in nursing from the University of Louisville. She received her PhD in nursing from the University of Kentucky in 2007.  Dr. Ashford is a Professor, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, and researcher at the University of Kentucky, College of Nursing, and a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing. Dr. Ashford severs as the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Faculty and Interprofessional Education, while also serving as the Director of the Perinatal Research and Wellness Center. The majority of her studies exclusivity focus on improving health for pregnant and postpartum women with addiction, primarily tobacco, electronic cigarette and opioid use disorder. She is an internationally known nursing expert in the field of perinatal tobacco use, immune response research, and preterm birth (PTB). She has developed a trimester-specific bio-maker data collection approach that has gained national recognition in multiple disciplines (nursing, maternal-fetal-medicine, addiction medicine, dentistry). She has created a data-base of over 1000 pregnant and parenting women including prospectively collected demographic, psychosocial and immune markers in four biological media. This breathe of data is being used to develop a novel bio-behavioral PTB-risk assessment that will inform early interventions for at-risk women.

Since 2012, as a primary investigator (PI), she has submitted 15 high impact state, foundation or federal grants. She has been awarded over 6 million in federal funding including a Center for Medicaid and Medicare Innovation (CMMI) grant, National Institutes for Health (NIH), National Institute of Drug and Alcohol Research (NIDA) award, and NIDA Supplement.  Dr. Ashford has been instrumental in the development of the Perinatal Assistance and Treatment Home (PATHways) and Beyond Birth program with nearly 200 pregnant women with SUDs enrolled in the program.  This programis receiving significant national attention due to having significant reductions in neonatal abstinence and maternal relapse.  PATHway-Beyond Birth has recently been highlighted in several state and national venues

Dr. Ashford led and directed the development the Perinatal Research and Wellness Center (PRWC). A team of 12 faculty and staff provide cutting edge research in perinatal addiction.  PRWC uses translational research to inform women, providers and policymakers about current perinatal issues while empowering women to optimize maternal and child health through positive behavioral change. Tailored programs help women holistically reduce modifiable risk behaviors associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes (specifically perinatal addictions), while also identifying early prenatal biomarkers of preterm birth.  Further, she has led a team to be the first in the nation to examine the impact of electronic cigarette and dual use behaviors on prenatal immune response and birth outcomes. Due to the significant rise in cannabis use among pregnant women, her team was awarded a NIDA Supplement (2017) and will also be among the first in the nation to study the combined effects of cannabis and electronic cigarette use in pregnant women. These community based and national works both aim to reduce preterm birth and advance novel discovery of perinatal opioid and tobacco treatment programs and interventions.

Dr. Ashford has recently been selected as a FNINR Ambassador.  She will be on the frontline in helping to educate policy makers on both state and federal levels on the importance of nursing research and the necessary funding required to support the health and wellbeing of all Americans.

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Google Scholar Page


  • BIRCWH Post-doctoral Fellowship, National Institute of Health, 2009
  • PhD, University of Kentucky, 2007
  • MSN, University Of Louisville, 2000
  • BSN, Washburn University, 1991


  • Preterm birth
  • Inflammation
  • Tobacco use/secondhand smoke exposure during pregnancy

Past Grants

PATHways Study: Comparatie Effectiveness Study of Peripartum Opioid Use Disorder in Rural Kentucky

Grant Primary Investigator: Kristin Ashford
Project Period: -
Total Award: $4,900,000
Sponsor: Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)

Behavioral and Enhanced Perinatal Intervention for Cessation (B-EPIC): Reducing Tobacco use among Opioid Addicted Women

Grant Primary Investigator: Kristin Ashford
Project Period: -
Total Award: $688,500
Sponsor: National Institute on Drug Abuse

Nightingale Perinatal Assistance and Treatment Home (PATHways Program)

Grant Primary Investigator: Kristin Ashford
Project Period: -
Total Award: $600,000
Sponsor: Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation

University Partnership - Substance use Disorder Treatment Beyond Birth

Grant Primary Investigator: Kristin Ashford
Project Period: -
Total Award: $1,383,411
Sponsor: Kentucky Department of Medicaid Services

Prenatal and Postpartum Training (FY 18-20)

Grant Primary Investigator: Kristin Ashford
Project Period: -
Total Award: $43,422
Sponsor: KY Cabinet for Health and Family Services