Understanding Prematurity

In November 2014, the March of Dimes joined with Washington University and St. Louis Children’s Hospital to launch a prematurity research center aimed at finding the causes of preterm birth so that new strategies can be developed to prevent it. The center is part of a national network that includes Stanford University School of Medicine, the University of Pennsylvania; and the Ohio Collaborative, a partnership of leading research centers in Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland. The network will bring together an unprecedented array of disciplines, specialties and research themes to examine biological, social and environmental factors that might contribute to prematurity.

Even before the March of Dimes made its $10 million investment here, the School of Medicine, Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children’s Hospital demonstrated a commitment to finding the triggers of prematurity. That commitment was exemplified by a recent research grant to a trio of Children’s Discovery Institute investigators conducting interrelated studies on the role of infection in preterm birth. Amanda Lewis, PhD, molecular microbiology; Warren Lewis, PhD, medicine; and Nicole Gilbert, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in molecular microbiology, are studying vaginal bacteria implicated in prematurity.

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