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Falls Church, VA, and Palo Alto, CA – March 9, 2015 – The Inova Translational Medicine Institute (ITMI) at Inova Fairfax Medical Campus and the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center at Stanford University School of Medicine today announced a partnership to discover biomarkers capable of predicting risk of preterm birth using genomic data.

In the US, twelve percent of babies are born at less than 37 weeks gestation, which causes nearly 10,000 deaths[1] and costs the national health system approximately $28 billion per year. The causes of preterm birth are complex and in about half of cases, are unknown. While there is understood to be a genetic component, to date no individual genes have been identified as causative.

ITMI’s recently completed Preterm Birth Study has enrolled 900 families, of which 40% are affected by preterm birth. “The whole genome sequences ITMI has generated from these families, combined with the expression profiles, miRNA, and DNA methylation data will be extremely critical when integrated with known clinical risk factors, to our understanding of the complex processes that regulate birth” said Dr. John Niederhuber, CEO of ITMI. The March of Dimes Center at Stanford has genetic data from over 1,700 infants born preterm. The partnership will enable analyses of the genetics of preterm birth at an unprecedented scale.

“Studying the genetic cause of preterm birth is challenging, because genetic studies typically need tens of thousands of cases. Working together with Inova, we are hoping that we can discover genetic factors using our two separate cohorts studying preterm birth”, said Dr. Atul Butte, lead investigator of the study at Stanford and an investigator at the prematurity research center.

[1] Gallagan et al. (2006) The Contribution of Preterm Birth to Infant Mortality Rates in the United States. Pediatrics 118(4): 1566-1573.

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About the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center at Stanford:

The March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center brings together experts from a variety of disciplines to develop new approaches toward studying and preventing preterm birth. The center has four goals: understanding the pathways that lead to preterm birth; predicting which women are at risk of delivering early; translating this research into clinical interventions and policy changes to prevent preterm delivery; and reducing the social disparities that contribute to preterm birth.
About Inova Translational Medicine Institute:

The Inova Translational Medicine Institute (ITMI) is a not-for-profit research institute delving into the genomics component of personalized medicine. ITMI is utilizing genomic and clinical information from patients to develop innovative methods for personalized patient care. Studies at the Institute have generated a large genomic and clinical data set that can be used in a variety of fields, from computational biology to psychology as well as biomedical research applications. ITMI’s goal is to utilize information from its studies to better understand and predict the onset of disease, leading to the implementation of preventive medicine based on the unique genomics of the individual patient.


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