March of Dimes Launches New Data-Focused Prematurity Research Center at UC San Francisco

Led by New Chief Scientific Officer, Organization Invests in New Phase of Preterm Birth Research to Bring Innovations from Lab into Clinical Practice

Arlington, Va., June 23, 2022 / PRNewswire / – The March of Dimes, the leading organization fighting for the health of all moms and babies, is pleased to announce the opening of the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center (PRC) at UC San Francisco (UCSF). This new PRC, which will focus on prematurity data sharing, computational drug discovery and electronic medical record research, is part of the organization’s shift to accelerating detection of reductions in preterm births to support the US, March of Dimes has named Dr. Emre Seli As its Chief Scientific Officer, responsible for leading the organization’s vast research portfolio.

“Research is the foundation of our work to improve the health of all moms and babies and the work that is under way at our PRCs represents the heart of our research program,” said March of Dimes President and CEO. Stacey D. StewartGeneral Chat Chat Lounge “Under Dr. Seli’s leadership, I am confident that our increased investment will further advance our understanding of preterm birth and yield real breakthroughs that will improve health outcomes for moms and babies.”

Preterm birth is a problem that cuts across all demographics the United States and affects 1 in 10 babies born each year. Among the advancements of modern science, preterm birth – and birth time in general – is still a mystery to the medical community. The new UCSF PRC will be the newest in March of Dimes’ multi-faceted research network which is founded in a translational research approach and is dedicated to not only addressing the challenges of preterm birth, but providing actionable solutions for the medical community.

“Solving the challenges of preterm birth is a difficult goal and accomplishing that goal will require the medical community to reframe their processes. The traditional medical research approach will not be enough,” he said. Dr. Emre SeliMarch, Dimes Chief Scientific Officer and Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at Yale School of MedicineGeneral Chat Chat Lounge “Instead, March of Dimes has invested in multiple avenues to bring together different sources of intelligence, experience and technology to find a solution to preterm birth challenges. The new UCSF research center is the latest addition to this collaborative network.”

The UCSF PRC is part of the March of Dimes global network, with other locations at Imperial College, London; University of Pennsylvania; Stanford University; University of Chicago-Northwestern-Duke and the Ohio Collaborative (Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Case Western Reserve and Vanderbilt University). Each of these centers channels its own expertise in investigating different assigned research themes.

The UCSF PRC will focus on three goals:

  1. Expand Data Sharing – March of Dimes Database for Preterm Birth Research, co-directed by Dr. Marina Sirotaan Associate Professor in the Bakar Computational Health Sciences Institute and the Department of Pediatrics at UCSF, and Dr. Tomiko Oskotsky, a senior research scientist in the Sirota Lab, launched in 2020 to collect, organize and make public molecular data from all the PRCs. The greater computational community is encouraged to use the data to make new discoveries that can address some of the toughest challenges in preterm birth research.
  2. Computational Drug Repurposing – Applying this groundbreaking technique, which seeks to match existing, market-approved medications with the latest unassociated medical conditions to provide data available to mothers at risk of prematurely, first in the medical field.
  3. Leveraging Electronic Medical Records (EMR) – across the University of California Medical system, UCSF will apply advanced machine learning techniques to make new hypothesis about links between premature birth and other external clinical features. The work will expand across the country and beyond to identify women at risk of future preterm births and develop appropriate interventions.

“I’m honored to be a part of the March of Dimes prematurity research network, which has been making tremendous progress to uncover the root causes of prematurity through countless research projects over the years,” said Dr. Sirota, who will lead the center. “The resulting data from these inquiries, when looked at through the lens of computational analytics, has the potential to lead to scientific discoveries that could one day dramatically alter prematurity clinical care in this country and around the world.”

“Our designation as an official PRC will provide the resources to continue leveraging our computational and data sharing expertise toward generating therapeutic and diagnostic hypotheses and moving them to clinical trials so we can one day help women experience far less incidences of preterm birth,” she added. General Chat Chat Lounge

Dr. Sirota, a celebrated women’s health computational scientist who also created a program to train minority high school students in the fields of AI and big data, has been part of the March of Dimes Stanford University Prematurity Research Center Since 2014, playing an important part in using advanced computational techniques from new insights from various types of molecular data and beginning work on a data-sharing repository for preterm birth research.

Recent Research Success

The opening of the UCSF PRC comes at a prolific time for March of Dimes PRC research. In the last five months alone, PRC investigators have published three landmark studies in the Nature family’s journals:

  • Imperial College, London: reported a first-of-its-kind vaginal microbiome testing device for preterm labor. In a second study, the PRC uncovered the immune mechanisms that may be responsible for preterm labor in the presence of increased microbiome diversity.
  • Stanford University: Published findings on the development of a blood test for early detection of preeclampsia, an achievement that far exceeds today’s diagnostic tools.

All three studies gain scientists enormous new insights into diagnosis of preterm birth and preeclampsia, responsible for an overwhelming share of maternal and fetal health complications and deaths globally.

About March of Dimes

March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We support research, lead programs and provide education and advocacy so that every baby can have the best possible start. Building on a successful 84-year legacy of impact and innovation, we empower every mom and every family.

Visit marchofdimes.org or nacersano.org for more information. Visit shareyourstory.org for comfort and support. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and TwitterGeneral Chat Chat Lounge

SOURCE March of Dimes Inc.

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