November 6, 2018

The March of Dimes Database for Preterm Birth Research, announced today in the journal Scientific Data, is already one of the most important innovative new tools for collaborative research on preterm birth, which affects 15 million babies worldwide each year. Now it’s ready to become an engine of discovery, March of Dimes says.  

Launched in 2015 at the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center (PRC) at Stanford University School of Medicine -- the first of what would become an international network of six PRCs – the Database integrates the work of researchers and clinicians from a broad range of disciplines into an open access site. The shared goal of these more than 200 scientists, physicians, engineers, statisticians, sociologists and other professionals is to foster innovation that will accelerate discoveries of the unknown causes of preterm birth and new ways to prevent it. 

The March of Dimes Database for Preterm Birth Research is the backbone of that effort, says Marina Sirota, Ph.D., leader of the initiative for March of Dimes, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and member of the Bakar Computational Health Sciences Institute at the University of California, San Francisco.

“Essentially, we’re creating a place for collaborative scientific discovery, through the ImmPort platform, where researchers from all over the world can start applying machine learning and artificial intelligence tools to the data coming out of the six March of Dimes PRCs,” Dr. Sirota says.  “We believe our efforts will lead to breakthroughs to improve the health of moms and babies and end preterm birth.”

The March of Dimes Database for Preterm Birth Research currently contains information from 15 molecular studies, with aggregated genetic data from almost 25,000 patients, and molecular measurements on more than 8,000 samples. More data are being added every day. The creation of the Database is led by the Stanford PRC, and is a collaboration between all the March of Dimes PRCs and Northrop Grumman Corporation, a partner of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation at the National Institutes of Health. 

“Enabling Precision Medicine in Neonatology: An Integrated Repository for Preterm Birth Research” by Marina Sirota, Atul Butte, et al, appears today in Scientific Data. It is available free online at