Our center

One of five Prematurity Research Centers (PRC) established by the March of Dimes Foundation around the country, the mission of the PRC at Washington University is to better predict and prevent preterm births.

With a generous $10 million in funding from the March of Dimes Foundation over 5 years, beginning in Nov. 2014, this virtual research center brings together investigators across disciplines at Washington University, creating a truly transdisciplinary team.

Research areas include:

  • Obstetrics and gynecology
  • Pediatrics
  • Biomedical and electrical engineering
  • Cardiology
  • Radiology
  • Biology
  • Genetics

Additionally, funding from the March of Dimes Foundation was matched by a $5 million gift from St. Louis Children’s Hospital, as well as by donations from Washington University School of Medicine, Barnes Jewish Hospital, IBM, and private donors.

Learn more about the March of Dimes Foundation »

Prematurity research 

The understanding of why preterm births occur has not expanded significantly in the past 25 years, and if all known effective interventions for lowering the risk of preterm birth were applied, they would only reduce the rate by 1%.

Thus, the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center at Washington University (PRC) was launched, with the goal of using a transdisciplinary approach to finding new ways to predict and prevent preterm birth. Forging new alliances and thinking about prematurity in novel ways will help unravel the reason why over 350,000 babies in this country are born too soon.

Premature birth in the United States

Of the 4 million babies born in the United States every year, 1 in 10 are born prematurely, a rate higher than that of most developed nations.

While our country’s premature birth rate dropped for the sixth year in a row, it remains one of the most intractable public health problems, and is still the #1 cause of death in children under age 1. The consequences of premature birth can include neurological disorders, developmental delays, and hearing and vision problems.

St. Louis’ premature birth rate

In St. Louis, the preterm birth rate is 12.5%, much higher than the national average of 9.6% in 2014.

The PRC is devoted to serving the St. Louis population, and working with physicians and investigators from all fields — here in St. Louis, at the other four PRCs, and around the world — to help solve the mystery of preterm birth.

Visit the March of Dimes PeriStats website to learn more about preterm birth statistics here in St. Louis, and around the country.

Learn more or schedule a visit

If you would like to learn more about preterm birth research and the PRC, or to schedule a visit to our research facilities, please contact PRC Project Manager Jessica Chubiz at jchubiz@wustl.edu.