Preterm Birth Initiative

About the Award

The Preterm Birth Initiative was created to increase the understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying parturition and spontaneous preterm birth and will provide up to $600,000 over a four-year period ($150,000 per year).

The initiative is designed to stimulate both creative individual scientists and multi-investigator teams to approach the problem of preterm birth using creative basic and translation science methods. Postdoctoral fellows nearing their transition to independent investigator status through senior established investigators are encouraged to apply.

Molecular and computational approaches such genetics/genomics, immunology, microbiology, evolutionary biology, mathematics, engineering, and other basic sciences hold enormous potential for new insights independently or in conjunction with more traditional areas of parturition research such as maternal fetal medicine, obstetrics, and pediatrics.

The formation of new connections between reproductive scientists and investigators who are involved in other areas will give preterm birth research a fresh and unique look, and stimulate a new workface to tackle this challenge.

Despite medical and technological advances, the rate of preterm births in the United States remains higher today than 20 years ago. Approximately 10 percent of births in the U.S. are considered preterm, which is defined as birth occurring prior to 37 weeks of gestation. Many health and social problems can be attributed to preterm delivery including cerebral palsy, respiratory distress syndrome, chronic lung disease, seizures, learning difficulty, hearing loss, behavioral problems, and others. Preterm birth is currently the leading cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality in children. However, for a medical problem that has such grave health and social consequences little is known about its causes.

Up to five research grants will be awarded in this award cycle.

Application Process

It is strongly recommended that potential applicants review the Request for Proposals prior to accessing the eligibility questionnaire.


For a full explanation of the eligibility requirements, view the Request for Proposals.

Note: Postdoctoral fellows nearing transition to independent investigator status are strongly encouraged to contact Senior Program Officer Rolly Simpson at or 919-991-5110 about their planned proposal, their competitiveness for the award, and other issues.  


Please contact Debra Holmes at