World Prematurity Day 2012


New GAPPS projects

Innovative Research Projects Aim to Prevent Preterm Birth

15 October 2012 | SEATTLE - Five innovative research projects aiming to prevent premature birth were announced by the Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth (GAPPS), an initiative of Seattle Children's. The projects are funded through the Preventing Preterm Birth initiative, part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Grand Challenges in Global Health. The initiative seeks to discover biological mechanisms that lead to preterm birth and develop innovative strategies for prevention, with particular focus on solutions relevant to low- and middle-income countries, where 99% of the world's infant deaths occur. More than 320 applications were received from 50 countries, with the top five applications awarded grants of up to $2 million to fund their projects for 2-4 years.

The grant recipients include:

  • Dr David Aronoff of the University of Michigan, with an interdisciplinary team of experts in microbiology, immunology, reproductive biology, and vaccine development, will examine how infections of the female reproductive tract interact with and evade the immune system, resulting in infections of the uterus that cause preterm birth and stillbirth.
  • Dr Margaret Hostetter from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and her co-investigators will examine how disruption of the normal bacteria and other micro-organisms (the microbiome) of the lower female genital tract may increase risk of preterm birth.
  • Dr Kevin Kain of the University Health Network and the University of Toronto will be investigating malaria infections of the placenta to reveal specific roles of the immune response that lead to preterm birth, low birth weight, and stillbirth.
  • Dr Sam Mesiano from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and his team will investigate the body's receptors for progestin-based therapies in pregnancy to identify ways to enhance anti-inflammatory processes in all pregnant women and prevent preterm birth.
  • Dr David Olson from the University of Alberta will be working to better understand how infections can cause preterm birth. Using animal models and in later studies of women in low-income countries, he and his team will investigate multiple mediators of inflammation in the uterus early in pregnancy, as well as test new diagnostics and therapeutics that can identify women at risk, modulate the inflammatory response, and prolong pregnancy.
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