EMPOWER Research and Advocacy Lab


The Empower Lab is a clinical research and advocacy lab working to further gender equity through scientific approaches to issues of gender-based violence including sexual violence, sex trafficking, domestic violence, female genital cutting, military sexual trauma and other issues that disproportionately affect low-income women in New York City and around the world.

About the Lab

The Empower Lab conducts research on various topics relating to sexual and gender-based violence such as intimate partner violence, sex trafficking, and female genital cutting. A key part of our mission is to increase the body of evidence-based clinical knowledge surrounding these issues which can help shape recommendations for  trauma-informed services and guidelines for clinical practice. This research is needed to better understand the unique experiences of survivors and how the healthcare system can best meet their medical and social needs. 

Additionally, many women experiencing gender-based violence are immigrants. Immigration status can serve as a barrier to reporting in instances of gender-based violence and seeking care. The Empower Lab is dedicated to bringing attention to the intersection of gender-based violence and immigrant Americans. Care provided to survivors of gender-based violence must promote their rights and reflect their cultural backgrounds. 

Discussion of survivors’ needs – including medical, social, educational, and legal needs - should be informed by the survivors themselves and this is why the Empower Lab is committed to protecting the rights and dignity of survivors of gender-based violence. Furthermore, survivors of sexual trauma often experience marginalization, stigmatization, isolation, and feelings of guilt and shame and these factors interfere with reintegration, and establishment of financial and social stability.

At the Empower Lab, we strive to increase public awareness of the prevalence of gender-based violence and address issues of sexual- and gender-based violence with consideration for the culture and communities of survivors.

Dr. Ades and Research Assistants

Pictured above: Dr. Veronica Ades (Director of the Empower Lab) and Research Assistants, attending a Human Trafficking Intervention Court (HTIC) meeting in Brooklyn.

Overview of Projects
  • The Telomeres, Epigenetics, and Trauma Study investigates the impact of sexual trauma on telomere length and DNA methylation age. 
  • The Sugar Dating Study explores the phenomenon of “sugar dating” in the United States.
  • The Male Intimate Partner Violence Study examines men’s experiences with intimate partner violence, both as potential perpetrators and potential victims.
  • The Chronic Pelvic Pain and Trauma Study is an examination of whether clinical trials of pelvic pain treatment study trauma as a potential confounder. 
  • The EMPOWER Clinic Study examines the health outcomes of sexual trauma survivors presenting to the EMPOWER Clinic. 
  • The PSOT Study aims to determine the gynecologic and health needs of women who are enrolled in Bellevue Hospital’s Program for Survivors of Torture (PSOT).
  • The Healthcare Access, Identification, and Care Study interviews trafficking survivors to better understand the healthcare access of trafficked women.  
  • The Intimate Partner Violence Study uses audio computer-assisted self-interview software to study the prevalence of intimate partner violence among Latina women in NYC.

Our Team

Dr. Veronica Ades

Dr. Veronica Ades, MD, MPH: Dr. Ades (pictured above) is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist and is the Principal Investigator of the Empower Lab. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Director of Global Women’s Health at the New York University School of Medicine (NYUMC). Her clinical work is at the New York Harbor VA and at Gouverneur Health where she founded and runs the EMPOWER Clinic for Survivors of Sex Trafficking and Sexual Violence. 

The lab consists of undergraduate, graduate, and medical students in a variety of fields including public health, medicine, social work, psychology, and sociology. Find out more about our current lab members here: https://www.empowerlab.org/lab-members/

Get Involved

Contact the Empower Lab at nyuempowerlab@gmail.com.


Website: http://www.empowerlab.org/

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