Columbia Faculty Participate in March of Dimes Research on Preterm Birth

November 21, 2014

The March of Dimes has launched a $10 million March of Dimes Research Center for Preterm Birth. Based at the University of Pennsylvania and led by scientists from Penn and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the center will focus on the energy and metabolism of reproductive tract cells, structural changes in the cervix, and the role of the placenta in normal and preterm labor.

Collaborating on the project are scientists from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and Columbia’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, as well as the University of Pittsburgh Magee-Womens Research Institute. The CUMC co-investigators are George Gallos, MD, assistant professor of anesthesiology; Joy-Sarah Vink, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics & gynecology; and Ronald Wapner, MD, professor of obstetrics & gynecology, vice chair of research, and director of reproductive genetics in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Kristin Myers, PhD, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is also a collaborator.

Preterm birth is the leading cause of newborn death in the United States and the leading killer of children under age 5 worldwide. The United States has one of the worst rates of preterm birth among developed countries. Babies who survive preterm birth often face lifetime health challenges such as vision and breathing problems, cerebral palsy, and learning disabilities.