UBC Participating in $50M International Research Program to Reduce Stillbirth­ Incidence

Worldwide, one baby is stillborn every 16 seconds, with profound, long-term emotional consequences for parents. Current assessment tools to predict the risk of stillbirth are inadequate, and progress on solving the problem has been slow.

To address this problem, the UK-based medical research organization Wellcome Leap is funding a 3-year $50M USD ntegrated research program called In Utero. The program draws on a range of expertise worldwide in areas such as ‘omics and imaging to develop integrated measures of maternal, developing baby, and placental function. The goal is to accurately model gestational progression to determine when interventions may be required, and reduce the incidence of stillbirths by one-half.

The UBC team, led by co-applicants Dr. Robert Rohling of UBC and Dr. Farah Deeba of UNC-Charlotte, is contributing their deep expertise in ultrasound imaging to develop biomarkers of placental development such as blood flow that will help predict potential stillbirth and trigger interventions. Results of this research will be integrated with those of the other teams to generate an integrated, effective approach to the problem.

Wellcome Leap is also funding a number of other large-scale health-related research programs intended to produce meaningful results in a relatively short time. These “moonshots” are considered to be part of the “Health Age” ushered in by the COVID-10 pandemic, akin to the Space Age that has spawned so many technological innovations.