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Several pictures of doctors who are featured on the Local Legends web site

MEET LOCAL LEGEND: Jennifer Niebyl, M.D.

Picture of Jennifer Niebyl
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Jennifer Niebyl, M.D.

“I always wanted to be a doctor and make the decisions that can really help people. When I first started out, my father was a bit worried. He was afraid it was too much of a man's world, and I'd lose my femininity.”


James A. Leach



Jennifer Niebyl's interest in high-risk obstetrics, a field in which she excels, did not come by chance. "My mother had five pregnancies in her 20's and lost all five-three miscarriages, and 2 stillbirths. After 16 years of marriage, and all that trauma, she became pregnant again at the age of 37. This time, she went to see a doctor who specialized in high-risk pregnancies. He had her test her urine daily, not a usual procedure back then, and five weeks before her due date the testing revealed problems. He told her to come in immediately or risk losing another child. She went to the hospital, and that's when I was born-premature but alive."

As an undergraduate at McGill University, Jennifer Niebyl spent her first two years in the nursing program before deciding that she could and would become a doctor. At Yale, where she attended medical school starting in 1965, she was one of only five women in a class of 100. She has come a long way since in a distinguished career that includes leadership, teaching, and work in high-risk obstetrics.

As Professor and Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Iowa, Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, as well as a staff physician at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, she serves as a physician and teacher with an expertise in medical diseases in pregnancy, tocolytic drugs for pre-term labor, birth defects, and drug use in pregnancy.

After graduating from Yale University School of Medicine, she trained at the New York Hospital-Cornell University Medical Center, and the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. In 1982, she became Director of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Johns Hopkins. In 1988, she came to the University of Iowa to head the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology-at that time, only the third female department head in obstetrics and gynecology in the country

Jennifer Niebyl is the author or co-author of several medical texts including Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies, a medical text scheduled for its fifth edition. She is also the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Perinatology and the author of numerous scientific papers, abstracts, and reviews.

Board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology and a Fellow in the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology, she is a member of the U.S. Pharmacopeia Obstetrics and Gynecology Expert Committee.

Nominated by Rep James A. Leach (R-Iowa-2nd), Jennifer Niebyl's work, teaching, and writing have had a wide impact on high-risk obstetrics. "My work focuses on helping pregnant women deliver healthy babies," says Jennifer Niebyl. "That's as good as it gets in any job."



Appointed Associate Professor, Department of Gynecology & Obstetrics, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore MD


Appointed Director, Division of Maternal & Fetal Medicine, Department of Gynecology & Obstetrics, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD


Co-authors medical text-Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies, Churchill-Livingstone, Gabbe, S, Niebyl JR, and Simpson, JL: (1st edition 1986; 2nd edition, 1991; 3rd edition, 1996; 4th edition 2001)


Appointed Professor and Head, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City, Iowa




Yale University School of Medicine


High Risk Obstetrics

Sub Specialty

Medical Education in Obstetrics & Gynecology