The March of Dimes (MOD), the leading nonprofit for pregnancy and baby health, is dedicated to improving the health of moms and babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. Only modest progress has been made in identifying the underlying causes of preterm birth, so the March of Dimes has now made this a top research priority. To foster a new model of collaboration with the hope of leading to transformative discoveries, five March of Dimes Prematurity Research Centers were launched. Their goals are to integrate scientists from individual disciplines and to form innovative collaborations that can accelerate research discoveries.
The March of Dimes Database for Preterm Birth Research , led by Marina Sirota and Atul Butte of the UCSF Institute for Computational Health Sciences, aims to organize scientific data and research across the five MOD-funded Prematurity Research Centers with the goal of enhancing research collaboration and coordination to accelerate the overall pace of discovery in this field. The data in the repository is diverse and includes genomic, transcriptomic, immunological and microbiome data. In addition, as part of this effort, relevant datasets from participating laboratories with public and government databases and private data sources are being augmented. Data-sharing efforts partnered with powerful bioinformatics tools will provide an unprecedented opportunity to apply precision medicine strategies to preterm birth research. The hope is that this work will lead to discovery of novel diagnostic biomarkers and ultimately aid in formulating more effective interventional strategies for the management and prevention of preterm birth.