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UNC Global Women’s Health has received two new grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for work on pregnancy outcomes in Zambia. The first grant funds the “Multi-omics for Mother and Infants (MOMI) Consortium,” which seeks to identify new predictive biomarkers for preterm birth, preeclampsia, stillbirth and fetal growth restriction. UNC Project-Zambia is one of six international sites to receive this funding. The second grant, “Antenatal-Postnatal Research Collective (ARC),” will expand UNC’s partnership with the University of Zambia to conduct prospective clinical research in pregnancy. The team will recruit 5,000 households in Lusaka into a community-based cohort and follow women from the preconceptional period through conception, gestation, delivery, and postpartum. Biological samples from the ARC cohort will be made available to the MOMI study, and participants enrolled in the ARC cohort will be offered participation in future interventional trials.

“The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been critical to our pregnancy outcomes research in Zambia, and we could not be more grateful for this new support,” says Jeffrey Stringer, MD, FACOG, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of UNC Global Women’s Health. “Our group is committed to reducing the unacceptable burden of adverse birth outcomes faced by women living in the Global South. These new grants will support new research and further solidify our partnership with the University of Zambia.”

“This support from the Gates Foundation allows our partnership in Zambia to pursue exciting new innovations in pregnancy research,” says Myron Cohen, MD, director of UNC’s Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases. “We are grateful for the Foundation’s continuing support, which strengthens the Institute’s capacity as a leader in global women’s health.”

With these new awards, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has invested $27 million in the UNC-Zambia site over the past 3 years. The team is also working on developing new technologies to bring obstetric ultrasound to the primary care level and to improve intrapartum monitoring of laboring women with wearable sensors. This portfolio of grants, combined with resources from the National Institutes of Health, UNC’s Center for AIDS Research, and the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases, creates a world-class pregnancy research center working in a setting where adverse outcomes are common.”

These project are part of the UNC CFAR International Core efforts. Dr. Stringer is the Director of the the International Core, and Dr. Cohen is Associate Director of the CFAR and CFAR International Core. 

This story was originally published by the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases on December 9, 2020.