Mellissa Withers

University: University of Southern California

School/Department: Keck School of Medicine, Dept of Preventive Medicine, Institute for Global Health

Position: Associate Professor

Degrees: PhD, MHS


Health topics of expertise: women’s empowerment, global reproductive health, including HIV prevention, abortion and family planning; maternal and child health, qualitative methods

Geographical focus: Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa

Service Activities: APRU Global Health Program Director

Recent related Consultancy/Grants/Collaborations:

  1. Empowering Women in Kenya through Male Involvement in Family Planning: Suggested Strategies and Potential Consequences, UC Global Health Institute, Co-investigator, 2012-2014.
  2. Establishing Infrastructure for Prevention of familial Alzheimer’s Disease in Mexico, 1R21TW009787-01, National Institutes of Health Fogarty Grant, Co-Investigator, 2013-2015.
  3. Strengthening identification and referral systems for victims of domestic violence in Los Angeles County: Using technology to improve outreach to immigrant victims, Blue Shield Foundation of California, Co-investigator, 2013-2014.

Recent related publications:

  1. Maternowska, C. Withers, M., and Brindis. C. Gender, masculinity and migration: Mexican men and reproductive health in the Californian context, Culture, Health and Sexuality, 16(8): 989-1002, 2014.
  2. Withers, M., Dworkin, S., Harrington, E., Kwena, Z., Onono, M., Bukusi, E.B., Cohen, C.R.,  Newmann, S.J. Fertility Intentions among Kenyan Couples after HIV diagnosis: a qualitative investigation, Culture, Health and Sexuality, 15(10): 1175-90, 2013.
  3. Tavrow, P., Withers, M., and McMullen, K. Age matters: Differential impact of service quality on contraceptive uptake among post-abortion clients in Kenya, Culture, Health and Sexuality, 14(8):849-62, 2012.


Mellissa Withers is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles at the Institute for Global Health. She received a PhD in community health sciences from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health with a minor in cultural anthropology. She also holds a Master’s in International Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a BA in international development from UC Berkeley. Dr. Withers is an experienced health researcher who has worked in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Her primary research interests lie in community participatory research, maternal and child health, women’s empowerment, violence, human trafficking and global reproductive health, including family planning, and HIV prevention. She teaches undergraduate and graduate-level courses in global health, medical anthropology, community-based participatory research and qualitative research methodology. She has worked for five years as a research consultant on numerous global health projects.