Discovery Research


Research Priorities

  • Discover the molecular mechanisms behind chronic toxic stress that drive or protect against risk for preterm birth in mothers and babies
  • Engage a cell-to-society approach which considers biological markers hand in hand with social factors 

The mechanisms affecting preterm birth span an incredible range, from molecular to social, making it a complex issue to tackle. For decades, researchers have studied preterm birth through the lens of either genetics or environment.


    We believe that to staunch the epidemic of preterm birth, we must examine the full picture of risk.


    By examining molecular contributors, such as inflammation, to historical contributors, such as structural racism, our Discovery Research uses a "place-based precision health” approach to better understand how a range of factors influence preterm birth and associated disparities in mothers and babies. 


    Placed-Based Precision Health /n /

    Achieving optimal health at both a community and individual level requires intense partnering with women, families, community organizations, and other professionals to understand the full scope of patterns of disease and disease states


    Highlights From Our Discovery Research

    Sleep Matters for Prematurity Risk

    We identified a key link between sleep during pregnancy and preterm birth. Using a large statewide database we found that women with insomnia were at significantly increased risk for preterm birth. This work represents a critical in-road that suggests that efforts aimed at decreasing insomnia via therapies such as cognitive behavior therapy hold potential for decreasing the risk and rates of preterm birth. Read More

    Tests and Tools to Predict Preterm Birth and Outcomes of Prematurity

    We’re proud to have developed a prenatal blood test for preterm birth occurring with and without preeclampsia as well as tools for predicting survival and major morbidity in babies born preterm. This work could lead to the earlier identification of babies at the highest risk for mortality and morbidity and for the development of new clinical interventions aimed at targeted metabolic pathways.  Read More

    Launch of the Healthy Outcomes of Pregnancy for Everyone (HOPE) Research Platform

    This platform will be used to conduct multiple studies focused on preterm birth including our SOLARS cohort study which   focuses on elucidating the role of molecular and psychosocial stress in preterm birth in Black and Latina women.

    Expanding Understanding of the Molecular Drivers of Parturition and Preterm Birth

    we have amassed an enormous amount of molecular information for women with and without preterm birth and their children. This molecular resource includes detailed immune, genetic, epigenetic, proteomic, metabolomic, lipidomic, nutrient, and pathogen-related data along with information on maternal and infant characteristics, clinical phenotypes, and environmental factors. In 2018-19 we will be focusing on analyzing this data in the hopes to uncover intervention possibilities.