Merck for Mothers - Committed to Saving Lives
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The Merck for Mothers  team is dedicated to achieving our vision of a world where no woman dies giving life.

Priya Agrawal, BMBCh, MA, MPH, DFSRH

Executive Director, Merck for Mothers

Dr. Priya Agrawal is Executive Director of Merck for Mothers – Merck’s 500 million dollar, ten-year commitment to ending preventable maternal mortality. She is an Obstetrician and Gynecologist and global women's health expert.

Dr. Agrawal previously served as Director of Research and Development for the Women and Health Initiative at the Harvard School of Public Health, where she led the implementation research agenda and supported the development and evaluation of healthcare innovations. She continues as Visiting Scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health. She was Obstetric Lead on the World Health Organization's Safe Childbirth Checklist Program in India, working closely with Dr. Atul Gawande and Medical Director of Jacaranda Health, Kenya - a social enterprise focused on delivering high quality, affordable maternal and child health services in the slums of Nairobi - leveraging process innovation. She started her public health work in Nigeria with the introduction of simpler, one-stop shop cervical cancer screening programs delivered by nurses. She has worked and traveled in more than 45 countries using the introduction of simple and sustainable innovations to improve the health outcomes for underserved women and their families.

After receiving her degrees in medicine from the University of Cambridge and Oxford, she graduated with a master's from the Harvard School of Public Health on a Fulbright Scholarship, and is finishing her Ph.D. at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In 2012, Dr. Agrawal's contributions to global women's health were recognized with the Harvard School of Public Health Alumni Award for Public Health Professionals.

She is a strong believer in iterative design and frugal innovation to drive the quality and value agenda and ‘paying-it-forward’ by mentoring the professionals of the future.

"We chose maternal mortality because quite frankly, it's unacceptable that in this day and age 800 women die a day of something that is completely preventable. We also believe this kind of commitment is not a charity or gift, it's an investment. And there's nothing better to invest in than women."

(GBCHealth Conference)


Jennifer Allen Woodruff, MS

Director of Communications, Merck for Mothers

Jennifer Allen Woodruff is a communications and public relations professional with extensive experience in business and consumer health initiatives. As Director of Communications for Merck for Mothers, she is responsible for guiding strategic communications for both domestic and international programs.

Prior to joining Merck for Mothers, Jennifer served as Director of Communications for Merck Vaccines, where she implemented a broad range of global communications and advocacy efforts for Merck's vaccine products. In addition to her contributions at Merck, Jennifer has served as a board member for Living Beyond Breast Cancer and the Senior Law Center in Philadelphia. She holds an MS in Advertising from Syracuse University and a BA in Journalism from Rutgers University.

Scott Higgins

Director of Operations, Merck for Mothers

Scott Higgins is an accomplished business executive with over 25 years of experience guiding organizations through transformational change. As Director of Operations for Merck for Mothers, he leads efforts to implement global programs that help reduce maternal mortality. His responsibilities include project management, reporting, budget tracking, and ensuring compliance with grant requirements.

Scott has a broad background in the pharmaceutical industry. He has served in leadership roles in Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) chemical manufacturing, environmental control operations, strategic sourcing, and process improvement. Prior to joining Merck for Mothers, Scott led the Global Supplier Management Group's Process Operations and Strategy organization.

Scott holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from Bucknell University. He is a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt and certified Change Agent.

"It's a great privilege to apply our collective business expertise to remove obstacles and help achieve sustainable improvements in maternal health."

Jeffrey Jacobs, MIM

Director of Product Innovation & Market Access, Merck for Mothers

Jeff Jacobs joined Merck for Mothers in 2014 and is responsible for the end-to-end management and market introduction of products and technologies that seek to reduce maternal mortality in partnership with public and private partners. This work includes the coordination of internal and external stakeholders across work streams that include product development, supply chain, affordability, market shaping and market introduction.

As a Merck pharmaceutical executive, Jeff has held a variety of positions in the areas of regional leadership, marketing, health policy and corporate responsibility. Jeff most recently held regional responsibility for Latin America and the Caribbean for virology (HIV and Hepatitis). Earlier in his career, he managed the Company’s longest running corporate responsibility project, the Mectizan Donation Program focused on river blindness (onchocerciasis). Jeff has a keen interest in expanding access to quality treatment. He has held positions based in Latin America and Central Asia/Caucuses as well as other roles with responsibility for Asia and Africa.

Prior to joining the pharmaceutical industry, Jeff worked for World Learning, a non-profit supporting nascent, local organizations in the former Soviet Union and for CARE International, where he managed humanitarian assistance programs in the same region. He joined CARE, initially, in Togo, West Africa, supporting the implementation of various development projects, with a primary focus on micro-enterprise. Jeff’s initial entry into the development field was in Côte d‘Ivoire, working on micro-enterprise development.

Jeff holds a Masters in International Management from THUNDERBIRD School of Global Management and a Bachelors in International Studies from the School for International Training (World Learning).


Get Informed

Have a PEP Talk

You can help in the fight to ensure a healthy pregnancy by making sure your loved ones "Have a PEP Talk" with their doctor and/or other healthcare professional about potential pregnancy complications.


Merck for Mothers is committed to supporting eligible non-profit organizations dedicated to improving maternal health around the world. Beyond our current country programs, we will update funding opportunities as our portfolio of projects continues to develop. In the meantime, we invite you to reach out to us for further information on partnering.

  • Once upon a birthHelp us make sure that no birth story goes untold. Share your birth story today to help us raise awareness about maternal mortality. For every story shared, Merck makes a donation to Join My Village, a program from CARE that empowers women and girls and supports safe pregnancies and childbirths.

Merck for Mothers is committed to supporting eligible non-profit organizations dedicated to improving maternal health around the world. Beyond our current country programs, we will update funding opportunities as our portfolio of projects continues to develop. In the meantime, we invite you to reach out to us for further information on partnering.