(From the June 2014 Research Now)
This month marks the first anniversary of the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center – Ohio Collaborative, a unique transdisciplinary partnership between three major Ohio universities and four hospitals to understand and prevent preterm birth. The Ohio Collaborative is one of the nation’s first Prematurity Research Centers launched by the March of Dimes, which is investing $10 million in the program over a period of five years.
Irina Buhimschi, MD, is the Director of the Center for Perinatal Research in The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Together with Dr. Louis Muglia (Cincinnati Children’s Hospital) and Dr. Sam Mesiano (Case Western Reserve University), Dr. Buhimschi is part of the scientific leadership team of the Ohio Collaborative. Dr. Buhimschi is also the leader for one of five specific research themes in the Ohio Collaborative, the Sociobiology of Racial Disparities in Preterm Birth.
“We believe a variety of genetic, environmental and social factors are involved in preterm birth. From stress and resilience, to diet and lifestyle, to vaginal and gut bacteria, we will comprehensively study why different racial and ethnic groups in Ohio differ remarkably in their preterm birth rate. Our hope is to develop an evidence-based plan of action for lowering rates of preterm birth in all populations,” said Dr. Buhimschi.
Preterm birth, defined as birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy, is the leading cause of newborn death in the U.S. Preterm birth affects nearly half a million babies each year, and 1 out of 8 babies in Ohio. Those who survive early birth often face a lifetime of health challenges, from vision and breathing problems to cerebral palsy and learning disabilities.
Dr. Buhimschi and her colleagues at Nationwide Children’s and Ohio State University are part of a team of more than 100 faculty-level investigators and trainees from a wide range of disciplines, all of whom are committed to identifying the underlying causes of prematurity and to developing strategies to prevent preterm birth.
Partners in the Ohio Collaborative include the following universities and hospitals: Nationwide Children’s Hospital and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus; Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in Cincinnati; and Case Western Reserve University, University Hospitals’ MacDonald Women’s Hospital and Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, and MetroHealth System in Cleveland.