March of Dimes Awards Two Scientists the Basil O’Connor Research Grant for Advancing Maternal and Infant Health

December 5, 2022

Dr. Antonina Frolova

Dr. Antonina Frolova

Dr. Isaac Marin Valencia

Dr. Isaac Marin-Valencia

March of Dimes announces two early career scientists as recipients of the 2022 Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Research Awards: Dr. Antonina Frolova, MD, PhD from Washington University, St. Louis and Dr. Isaac Marin-Valencia, MD, MS from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. These annual awards support outstanding investigators embarking on independent research careers who are committed to advancing the health of moms and babies.

Named for the first March of Dimes chairman and president and now in its 27th year, the Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Research Awards carry a $150,000 grant. The awards are part of March of Dimes’ research strategy to address the multi-faceted nature of the maternal and infant health crisis with funding that supports discovery, translational and social science research, and data collection and analysis.

“We are proud to recognize these excellent investigators with this year’s Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Research Awards. This research will help bring critical discoveries from laboratories to patient bedsides and advance our understanding of medical conditions that impact moms and babies,” said Emre Seli, Chief Science Officer at March of Dimes.   “March of Dimes works to help every mom have a healthy pregnancy and give every baby the best possible start and research like this helps us get one step closer to the development of lifesaving diagnostics and treatments for all moms and babies.”

Each investigator’s research represents an important public health and research topic:

  • Dr. Antonina Frolova’s research focuses on the role of sphingosine-1-phosphate in preterm birth and addresses the prevention of preterm birth by exploring hormonal control of uterine contractions. This research award will examine a key element in the cascade of signals that transforms the uterine muscles from relaxed to laboring state. Dr. Frolova is an Assistant Professor at Washington University, St. Louis.
  • Dr. Isaac Marin-Valencia’s research aims to identify new therapies for neurodevelopmental mitochondrial diseases. The research will lay the foundation for significant improvements in the lives of infants born with pyruvate dehydrogenase deficiency (PDHD) by identifying both critical pathways of, and potential drugs to support one of the more common human mitochondrial diseases. Dr. Marin-Valencia is an Assistant Professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Find more information about the Basil O’Connor program here.

About March of Dimes

March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We support research, lead programs and provide education and advocacy so that every family can have the best possible start. Building on a successful 84-year legacy, we support every pregnant person and every family. To learn more about March of Dimes, please visit