Addressing Critical Knowledge Gaps in Newborn Health

Video: Preventing Preterm Birth Initiative

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Grants to prevent preterm birth            

Each year, more newborns die as a result of preterm birth than from any other cause. Preventing Preterm Birth, a new initiative within the Grand Challenges in Global Health, is providing grants to discover new solutions to ensure healthy births around the world.

The Challenge

Discover biological mechanisms that lead to preterm birth and develop novel interventions to prevent them. Studies should explore gestational origins, biological mechanisms and the immunological response to infection and nutritional deficiency which lead to preterm birth, especially in the developing world.

David M. Aronoff, MD

PROJECT

Dr. Aronoff is a member of the Executive Committee of the Reproductive Sciences Program at the University of Michigan, where his laboratory studies mucosal immunology of the female reproductive tract. The Aronoff lab has research programs exploring host-microbial interactions important to the pathogenesis of sexually transmitted infections and severe bacterial infections that complicate pregnancy.

Nationally, Dr. Aronoff is an active member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the Anaerobe Society of the Americas, the American Society of Reproductive Immunology, and the American Society for Microbiology. His research has been supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the Central Society for Clinical Research, and the National Institutes of Health.

BIO

David M. Aronoff, MD is an Associate Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Departments of Internal Medicine and Microbiology & Immunology at the University of Michigan. Dr. Aronoff received a baccalaureate in Microbiology from Indiana University, and a medical degree from Tufts University. He then completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Vanderbilt University, remaining there to conduct a clinical Infectious Diseases fellowship and a postdoctoral research fellowship in Clinical Pharmacology. In 2002, Dr. Aronoff moved to the University of Michigan for a postdoctoral fellowship studying innate immunity.

Dr. Aronoff is a member of the Executive Committee of the Reproductive Sciences Program at the University of Michigan, where his laboratory studies mucosal immunology of the female reproductive tract. The Aronoff lab has research programs exploring host-microbial interactions important to the pathogenesis of sexually transmitted infections and severe bacterial infections that complicate pregnancy.

Margaret K. Hostetter, MD

PROJECT

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. These investigations will focus on vaginal Candida infections in pregnancy, inflammation, and regulation of the immune response. Research will be conducted using animal models and laboratory investigations connected to studies of women in low-resource countries. Their goal is to investigate protective and pathogenic mechanisms of preterm birth and identify novel treatment strategies for vaginal fungal infections to prevent preterm birth.

BIO

Margaret K. Hostetter, MD, the Albert B. Sabin Professor of Pediatrics, is a board-certified specialist in pediatric infectious diseases whose research focuses on the yeast Candida albicans, a cause of vaginal colonization in pregnant women and of potentially fatal bloodstream infections in premature infants and other hosts.



An Ohio native, Dr. Hostetter earned her M.D. from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, and completed her pediatric residency and fellowship in pediatric infectious diseases at Children's Hospital Boston. She has served as the American Legion Heart Research Professor in Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota and as the Jean McLean Wallace Professor of Pediatrics and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Yale before coming to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 2010 as the Albert B. Sabin Professor.

Kevin C. Kain, FRCPC, MD

PROJECT

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. This project will focus on discovering biomarkers to identify at-risk pregnancies as well as new interventions to prevent adverse pregnancy outcomes.

BIO

Kevin C. Kain, FRCPC, MD, is the Director, Sandra Rotman Laboratories for Global Health, Director, Tropical Disease Unit, Toronto General Hospital, a Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto, and holds a Canada Research Chair. Dr. Kain received research training at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and has worked extensively in the topics. He is the recipient of the C. Woolf Award for the Excellence in Teaching from the University of Toronto, a Career Scientist Award from the Ontario Ministry of Health, the Young Investigators Award from the Canadian Infectious Disease Society, and Bailey Ashford Medal from the American Society for Tropical Medicine, for distinguished work in tropical medicine. Dr Kain was profiled by TIME magazine as one of “Canada’s Best In Medicine”. He also received the: University of Toronto, Department of Medicine Research Award (2010); Fred Barrett Lectureship, University of Tennessee; Distinguished Global; Health Service Award, University of California (2006); The Wong Lectureship In Medicine, MacMaster (2006), 2005 Forbes Lectureship, University of Melbourne (2005). He has served as a consultant to many organizations including the Gates Foundation, WHO, Red Cross, and the CDC.

Sam Mesiano, PhD

PROJECT

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. The long-term goal of this project is to develop an inexpensive oral therapy that will reduce the prevalence of preterm birth worldwide.

 

BIO

Sam Mesiano, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Reproductive Biology, Case Western Reserve University and serves as Co-Director of the Research Division in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospitals, and Director of the Umbilical Cord Blood Collection Program, MacDonald Women’s Hospital. He is a graduate of Monash University, Melbourne Australia, where he received a PhD in Physiology specializing in the hormonal control of fetal growth. His research as a Postdoctoral Fellow and adjunct faculty member in the Center for Reproductive Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco explored the functional biology of the human fetal adrenal cortex.

David Olson, PhD, FRCOG

PROJECT

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.

 BIO

David M. Olson, PhD, FRCOG is Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics and Physiology at the University of Alberta. His career and research program have been dedicated to improving maternal-child health. Educated at Augustana College (Sioux Falls, SD), the University of Minnesota, St. Louis University, and the University of Western Ontario, he served as the founding director or co-director of the University of Alberta Perinatal Research Centre, the CIHR Group in Perinatal Health and Disease, the CIHR Strategic Training Initiative in Maternal-Fetal-Newborn Health Research, and the AIHS Interdisciplinary Preterm Birth and Healthy Outcomes Team. He has raised more than $30 M for research.

He is a founding board member of the Child Health Research Institute (London, Ontario), The Alberta Centre for Child, Family and Community Research and has served several national and international societies in elected office. He has organized the annual Western Perinatal Research Meeting for twenty-one years in Banff. His laboratory has published more than 140 papers primarily on the interactions of inflammatory mediators, steroids and prostaglandins on the activation of the uterus and initiation of term and preterm birth. Recently he has filed patents and started four companies to better translate laboratory discoveries to improve perinatal health.