Jessica Coker, M.D.


Assistant Professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Obstetrics and Gynecology
Co-Director, Women’s Mental Health Program
Medical Director, Women’s Inpatient Unit



Research Experience

My interest in women’s mental health started in residency with enjoyment in perinatal psychiatry.  I have been interested in abhorrent behaviors that occur in women during this vulnerable time such as suicide and substance use disorders. My clinical and research focus has been on the development of substance use disorder programs for pregnant and postpartum women and risks of exposures to the developing fetus. My research career started during my PGY2 year of residency training and I have been able to assess risks of exposures including benzodiazepines, nicotine and buprenorphine during fetal development. I have worked with many disciplines within the Psychiatric Research Institute and the Obstetrics Department including basic scientists, brain imaging research, and the Women’s Mental Health Program (WMHP).

As co-director of the WMHP, I treat and evaluate women with general psychiatric illness and substance use disorders during pregnancy and up to one year postpartum. In addition to these clinical duties, I am responsible for overseeing the operations and care of women on the Women’s Inpatient Unit as Medical Director. This unit is tailored in the acute care and treatment of women with past trauma history and personality disorders.

My current research projects include working with a multi-site team through the CTSA network to improve data collecting, evaluation and treatment of pregnant and postpartum women with opioid use disorders as well as a multi-site consortium on the impact of drug use disorders on fetal, neonatal and childhood brain development. When I am not tending to my clinical and research duties, I enjoy spending time with my husband and daughter as well as enjoying time with my extended family in Arkansas.

Andrew Solomon in The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression best summarizes my thoughts, “If you save the women, it has been said, they will in turn save the children, and so by tracing a chain of influence one can save the country.”

Recent Publications

Coker JL. (2014). “Suicide Risk Assessment During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period”. The American Journal of Psychiatry Resident’s Journal, 9(11), 6-8.

Ray-Griffith SL, Coker JL, Rabie N, Eads LA, Stowe ZN. (2016). “Pregnancy and ECT: A Multidisciplinary Approach”. Journal of ECT. PMID: 26796501.

House S, Coker JL, Stowe ZN. (2016) “Perinatal Substance Abuse: At the Clinical Crossroads of Policy and Practice”. American Journal of Psychiatry, 173 (11), 1077-1080.

Coker JL, Mease A, Lowery CL. (2017) “Pregnant Women, Babies and Substance Use: Prevention of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome”. Journal of the Arkansas Medical Society. May 2017.

Coker JL, Tripathi SP, Knight BT, Pennell PB, Newport DJ, Stowe, ZN. “Rating Scale Item Assessment for Suicidal Ideation in the Postpartum Period: A Cross Sectional Analysis”. Archives of Women’s Mental Health, 2017, DOI 10.1007/s00737-017-0749-2

Escalona-Vargas D, Coker JL, Ray-Griffith S, Siegel ER, Lowery CL, Stowe ZN, Eswaran H. (2018) “Fetal Assessment in Buprenorphine Maintained Women using Fetal Magnetoencephalography: A Pilot Study”. Addiction,

Coker JL, Catlin D, Ray-Griffith S, Knight B, Stowe ZN. (2018) “Buprenorphine Medication Assisted Treatment during Pregnancy: Prospective Study of Factors Associated with Adherence”. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 192, 146-149.

Aram J, Mease A, Richardson-Wiley T, Bohanna B, Coker JL. (2019) “Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome in Arkansas”. Journal of the Arkansas Medical Society, 115(8), 182-184.

Kroska EB, Meller E, Doyle R, Coker JL, Knight B, Ray-Griffith S, Stowe ZN. (Accepted) “Office-Based Urine Drug Screening During Pregnancy”. Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Bolin EH, Escalona-Vargas D, Daily JA, Seigel E, Lowery CL, Coker JL, Stowe ZN, Eswaran H. (Accepted) “Magnetocardiographic identification of prolonged fetal QTc in women receiving treatment for opioid  use disorder”. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research.