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Magee-Womens Research Institute Receives Grants to Fight Infant Mortality

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Courtney Caprara

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PITTSBURGH, March 16, 2017 – The Richard King Mellon Foundation has granted $5 million to Magee-Womens Research Institute and Foundation (MWRIF) to further understand and rectify discrepancies in Allegheny County’s infant mortality rates.
Between 2008 and 2012, 434 infants died in Allegheny County within their first year of life, ranking the county slightly worse than the national average, which is well below global averages for wealthy countries. Additionally, racial disparity in the infant mortality rate is 27 percent larger in Allegheny County than nationally.
One million of the grant will be dedicated to general research on pregnancy and fetal development, which impacts infant mortality, and the remaining $4 million will be used to expand the Magee Obstetrical Maternal Infant Database (MOMI), which has been collecting patient information from births at Magee since 1995. A Biobank also will be created to document tissues and other pregnancy-related specimens.
Researchers from the Magee-Womens Research Institute will use the expanded MOMI database and Biobank to track risk factors for infant mortality, ultimately working to develop a predictive model for infant mortality prevention and clinical interventions.
“Realizing that the most common conditions associated with infant mortality occur before birth, it is clear that a healthy pregnancy is key to prevention of an infant’s death or disease by a child’s first year of life," said Yoel Sadovsky, M.D., director of Magee-Womens Research Institute, professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences, University of Pittsburgh, and lead investigator on the infant mortality project.
The University of Pittsburgh and RAND Corporation also received grants from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, in the amounts of $725,000 and $640,000 respectively. These funds will be used to create algorithms that predict or score infant mortality risk. After identifying those at risk, the new tool will enable physicians to connect patients with appropriate and effective interventions tailored to them.
“These interventions will be impactful and effective if patients are engaged,” says Robert Edwards, M.D., chair, University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences. “Patients will be engaged if we can provide infrastructure, resources, new technologies and funding for obstetrical care in the county’s lower socio-economic sectors through the Richard King Mellon Foundation grant.”