Caroline Mitchell, MD, MPH

Lab Info:

Principal Investigator: Caroline Mitchell, MD, MPH

Office/Location: MGH YAW-4-E

Phone: 617-724-6850


Category: Associate Members

Dr. Mitchell runs a referral vulvovaginitis clinic at the Massachusetts General Hospital and is a faculty member in the Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology. Dr. Mitchell received her BA in Women’s Studies from Harvard College and spent 2 years in the Peace Corps in Southern Africa before returning to Harvard Medical School for her MD degree.  She did her OB/Gyn residency training at the University of Washington in Seattle, where she also received her MPH degree.  She spent 7 years on faculty at the UW before returning to MGH in 2014.


Dr. Mitchell spends the majority of her time in the lab doing translational and basic science research. Her work focuses on the relationship between the vaginal microbiota and the reproductive mucosal immune response, and how interactions between humans and our microbes influence reproductive health.


She has received career development awards from NIH and the Doris Duke Foundation. She is currently funded by the NIH as a principal investigator of a study of idiopathic vaginitis, and as a co-investigator on a trial evaluating treatments for genitourinary symptoms of menopause.  She has also received funding from the American Association of Obstetricians and Gynceologists Foundation, and is an MGH Claflin Award recipient.


Research Overview:


We have as many bacterial cells living in and on us as we do human cells in our bodies. New technologies that test for bacterial DNA and allow identification of slight variations between species and strains have allowed a more comprehensive analysis of microbial communities. A world of new possibilities for learning about the causes of disease is now available.


The human vaginal bacterial community is very different from the gastrointestinal community. While a healthy intestinal community has many different types of bacteria, a healthy vaginal community is dominated by a single species: Lactobacillus.


No other primate species has this same pattern. Absence of vaginal Lactobacillus has been associated with preterm birth, miscarriage, increased risk for HIV and infertility.


Learn more about Dr. Mitchell’s research: the microbial population in the female reproductive tract.