Holiday Greetings from PTBi

Dear PTBi friends and family,  

We hope the holiday season is bringing you joy, comfort, and healing. For us, the end of the year is about family — those near and far, chosen, and no longer with us — as we celebrate the transition from one year to the next. For the PTBi team, family is at the heart of our research, advocacy, and community partnerships.  

We thank you for your energy, partnership, and support as we took on the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and preterm birth. It was transformative to hold space with our community and networks as we continued to tackle birth inequities and racial disparities. 

This year, we hosted our monthly Collaboratories with partners on topics ranging from police brutality to queer and trans birthing as well as putting a spotlight on PTBi-led research like the SOLARS study. Bringing together researchers, public health practitioners, providers, trainees, and community members, we generated new ideas, collaborations, and innovative approaches to preventing preterm delivery through lively, multi-faceted discussion. 

Last month, we held our World Prematurity Day event, Let’s Talk About Preterm Birth: Honoring Our Stories, Our Families, and Our Support Systems. The virtual event included an open mic for attendees to share their experiences of preterm birth, a facilitated meditation, line dancing, and a lactation support group.  

Of course, 2021 was not without its challenges. In these spaces and beyond, we listened to concerns and fears about COVID-19. Our October Collaboratory was dedicated to hearing and addressing community perspectives and opinions on the pandemic, associated birth outcomes and vaccination. We also expanded the HOPE study to include an in-depth look at the pandemic’s effect on birth outcomes for those who have and haven’t contracted COVID. Looking forward, we will continue this work of supporting communities and advancing research as long as this health crisis persists.  

Internally, we are proud of the ways in which we reaffirmed our commitment to anti-racism under the guidance and mentorship of Dante King — challenging each other to grow and uplifting the ways in which our staff and community demonstrate strength and resilience.  

We are excited to be led by Black researchers and staff, including: 

  • Prioritizing Black-led research in our fellowship, a two-year postdoctoral transdisciplinary research fellowship that focuses on reducing disparities in preterm birth, and; 
  • Welcoming Associate Director Solaire Spellen, Fresno Community Engagement Associate Kendalyn Mack Franklin, and Director of Communications Areca Smit. 

Learn more about our commitment to anti-racism.  

Our Community Advisory Board reminds us of the power of centering those most impacted, the power of a resilient strengths-based framework, and the power of holding space for resistance against oppressive systems. The campaign that encapsulates this spirit, Voices for Birth Justice, is now in its third year and is as vital and inspirational as ever. 

We are proud of our progress but recognize that the work to improve the birthing outcomes of the most vulnerable — particularly Black and Brown families — is far from over. We hope you will continue to be our ally in this fight for Black and Brown lives, birth equity and justice. 

Wishing you safe and happy holidays, 

Solaire Spellen, Alexis Cobbins, and Larry Rand, MD 

P.S. If you wish to support PTBi’s work by donating, please visit this page where you can donate online and find the info for giving by phone or mail.