Ferring commits $10 million to March of Dimes to expand research needed to end preterm birth

May 23, 2017

Ferring Pharmaceuticals and the March of Dimes Foundation announced today that Ferring has committed $10 million to support the network of March of Dimes Prematurity Research Centers that are discovering the biological causes of preterm birth. Included in Ferring's contribution is funding for a new European-based Prematurity Center, which will become a partner of the existing five U.S.-based centers.

Both Ferring and March of Dimes are committed to advancing research to help prevent the 15 million annual preterm births recorded globally, including about 380,000 in the United States. Preterm birth is the leading cause of death in babies in the U.S. and of children under age 5 around the world, and is responsible for 1.1 million infant deaths each year.1

“Over one-third of Ferring’s research and development investment goes towards finding breakthrough treatments that help mothers and babies, from conception to birth, with the goal of contributing to safe pregnancies and deliveries,” says Per Falk, Chief Scientific Officer and Executive Vice President, Ferring Pharmaceuticals. “This collaboration reinforces our commitment to improving maternal care through scientific innovation and complements our active research programmes in preeclampsia and preterm birth as well as our recent investments in microbiome research to better understand these conditions.”

“The high rate of preterm birth in the U.S. and around the world is an avoidable human tragedy,” says Stacey D. Stewart, President of the March of Dimes. “We must do more to save families from the trauma caused by prematurity and the pain of losing a baby born too soon. March of Dimes staff and volunteers are grateful to Ferring Pharmaceuticals for supporting cutting-edge research to help us fulfill our goal to give every baby a chance to be born healthy.”

The March of Dimes Prematurity Research Centers3 encompass approximately 200 scientists in numerous fields, including obstetrics, neonatology, genetics and genomics, immunology, engineering, informatics, and social sciences. These Centers work together at multiple levels, sharing findings and data to expedite findings on the underlying causes of preterm birth.

David K. Stevenson, M.D., Senior Associate Dean for Maternal and Child Health and Co-Director of the Child Health Research Institute at Stanford University School of Medicine, is the principal Investigator of the first March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center. “My colleagues and I in the current Prematurity Research Centers are very excited by the opportunities this new funding provides and the collaboration with top researchers in Europe,” he says. “European countries have some of the lowest rates of preterm birth in the world, and we would love to share in the wealth of data and experience of our colleagues there.”

“We don’t just want to solve the knowledge gap on prematurity,” says Joe Leigh Simpson, MD, Senior Vice President for Research and Global Programs at the March of Dimes. “We want to find new clinical and policy-based solutions for families and societies around the world to prevent preterm birth.”  

About Preterm Birth
Preterm birth (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) and its consequences are the leading cause of death among babies in the U.S. and worldwide among children under age five (see infographic here). Babies who survive an early birth often face serious and lifelong health problems, including chronic lung disease, vision and hearing impairment, cerebral palsy, and neurodevelopmental disabilities.2 

About Ferring Pharmaceuticals
Headquartered in Saint-Prex, Switzerland, Ferring Pharmaceuticals is a research-driven, specialty biopharmaceutical group active in global markets. A leader in reproductive and maternal health, Ferring has been developing treatments for mothers and babies for over 50 years. Today, over one third of the company’s research and development investment goes towards finding innovative treatments to help mothers and babies, from conception to birth. The company also identifies, develops and markets innovative products in the areas of urology, gastroenterology, endocrinology and orthopedics. Ferring has its own operating subsidiaries in nearly 60 countries and markets its products in 110 countries. For further information on Ferring or its products, visit www.ferring.com.  For more information on preterm birth and Ferring’s work in this area, view our infographic Preterm birth: A global issue.  

1,2 Born Too Soon: The Global Action Report on Preterm Birth. (WHO, March of Dimes) 2012.
3 Current March of Dimes Prematurity Research Centers are located at (with date of launch):

  • Stanford University School of Medicine (2011); partner is University of California, San Francisco.
  • Ohio Collaborative (2013) -- partners are Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, University of Cincinnati, The Ohio State University, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Mount Carmel Health System, Case Western Reserve University, University MacDonald Women’s Hospital and Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, and the MetroHealth System. Also participating in the program are key investigators from Vanderbilt University, University of South Florida, University of Iowa, and Wright State University.
  • Washington University in St. Louis (2014); partner are University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Texas A&M University, and The California Institute of Technology.
  • University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine (2014); partners are University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Magee Women's Research Institute, Columbia University Medical Center, and The Hospital for Sick Children.
  • University of Chicago-Northwestern University-Duke University (2015); partner is Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

For more information:

Ferring Pharmaceuticals 
Ferring International Center S.A., Chemin de la Vergognausaz 50, 1162 Saint-Prex, Switzerland