Community Partnership in Action: Mothers Co-Create Research Agenda to Reduce Preterm Birth [video]

The UCSF California Preterm Birth Initiative (PTBi-CA) is catalyzing transdisciplinary thinking and taking a place-based precision approach to preventing preterm birth.

On June 6th and 7th, members of the PTBi-CA team participated in a Precision Public Health Summit held at UCSF and sponsored by the White House in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Focused on the critically important first 1,000 days of life, this gathering brought together many of the nation’s top leaders in child and public health research, policy, technology and data science to discuss how precision medicine approaches can be successfully applied in the public health arena to improve population health and equity.

A key theme that emerged from these conversations is the significance of community partnership. Larry Rand, MD, and Principal Investigator of the California Preterm Birth Initiative explained that a foundational value of the PTBi is, “to truly engage the communities that we’re working with, and move beyond only engagement to partnership.” As a result, PTBi has adopted a "user"-centered approach toward preventing prematurity. Patients and providers are included in the discussions about research and interventions from day one, “so that we’re not going down a road with an idea we might have that is not interesting or not a priority to the community.”

Before premiering a video describing PTBi-CA’s recent partnership with community members to prioritize research questions and select proposals for funding, Dr. Rand emphasized, “these [community] voices need to be at the table in order for us to understand what the most relevant and most likely to succeed priorities are to go after. Those are the ones that are going to be translatable, and therefore the ones that are going to be sustainable -- and that, in turn, will inspire more funding.”

Hope Williams, one of the community partners featured in the video, attended the summit and addressed the room with an important question, “What is the right formula [for us] to be heard, so that we can help researchers, we can help the community to line up, so that we can help our children?” Hope offered, “You want to know how to make change? It takes listening.”