Overview

In November of 2014, the March of Dimes joined with the University of Pennsylvania and other leading hospitals to launch the fourth transdisciplinary research center aimed exclusively at finding what causes preterm birth. The March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania demonstrates the commitment and enthusiasm of a team of accomplished investigators and faculty as they come together in this transdisciplinary and cross-institutional effort to solve the mysteries of preterm birth.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. 

In 2003, March of Dimes launched a national prematurity campaign to understand the most important threat to newborn health—preterm birth. In 2011, the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center at Stanford University was established to work toward eradicating prematurity. Two years later, in 2013, the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center Collaborative was established, bringing together a transdisciplinary team of leading researchers from universities and medical centers throughout the state of Ohio. Now, in 2014, the March of Dimes will establish two new prematurity research centers at the University of Pennsylvania and Washington University in St. Louis.

This year, the March of Dimes celebrates its 75th anniversary and its ongoing work to help all babies get a healthy start in life. More than 4 million babies were born in the United States last year, and the March of Dimes has helped each and every one through research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs.

Read the 2014 Annual Report

 

Read the 2013 Annual Report

Download 2012 Annual Report PDF (5.2 MB)

Download 2011 Annual Report PDF (4.7 MB)

Meet our Leadership Team and Program Directors

Together with the University of Pennsylvania’s leadership team, faculty researchers, and staff, the March of Dimes leadership team helps to shape the team’s direction, evaluate the on-going research progress and provide the necessary funding.

Leadership Team

Stacey Davis Stewart joined the March of Dimes Foundation as President-Elect on November 7, 2016 and will take over as President on January 1, 2017. In this role, Ms. Stewart will promote a global strategy around the organization’s mission to give all babies a healthy start. She will be responsible for leading all aspects of the organization’s strategy, vision and operations.

Stewart comes to March of Dimes from United Way Worldwide, where she held several positions, most recently serving as U.S. President. At United Way, she provided strategic direction in driving community impact, revenue, and enhancing the organization’s brand. Prior to becoming U.S. President, Stewart served as Executive Vice President, Community Impact Leadership and Learning at United Way.

A business veteran, Stewart also has held a number of senior roles, including Chief Diversity Officer and Senior Vice President for the Office of Community and Charitable Giving at Fannie Mae, as well as President and Chief Executive Officer for the Fannie Mae Foundation.

Ms. Stewart has a master's of business administration in finance from the University of Michigan and a bachelor of arts in economics from Georgetown University. She also holds honorary degrees from Trinity University, Morgan State University, Texas Southern University, Lincoln University, and Alabama A&M University. She currently serves on several boards nationally and in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area.

Ms. Stewart is married to Jarvis C. Stewart, the Chairman and Managing Partner of I + R Media, LLC a strategic communications firm based in Washington, D.C. The Stewarts have two children, Madeleine and Savannah.

Michael Katz, M.D., is Senior Advisor, Transdisciplinary Research, at March of Dimes Foundation and a member of the Foundation’s President’s Leadership Council and Executive Committee. A colleague since 1992, he has also served as the Foundation’s Vice President of Research, and until recently, Senior Vice President of Research and Global Programs. Dr. Katz has had a long and distinguished career in which his expertise and counsel have been sought after, and his contributions repeatedly recognized as invaluable, by dozens of boards, committees, and medical societies around the world. He currently serves on the Inter-Agency Coordinating Committee of EURO, the Committee on Human Rights of The National Academies, as Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Council of the INTERGROWTH Project at the University of Oxford, and as the Reuben S. Carpentier Professor, Emeritus of Pediatrics, at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Joe Leigh Simpson, M.D. FACOG, FACMG, became Senior Vice President for Research and Global Programs at March of Dimes Foundation in 2012. Certified in Obstetrics/Gynecology as well as Medical Genetics, he previously held academic positions at Northwestern University, University of Tennessee Memphis, and Baylor College of Medicine, serving as a Chairman of Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology for 20 years. Immediately prior to joining March of Dimes, he was Founding Executive Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Florida International University College of Medicine. Dr. Simpson is a productive and prolific writer, researcher, and thought leader who has been recognized and honored for his myriad research accomplishments, especially in genetics of reproductive disorders and in genetic evaluations of pregnancies. His excellence as a physician and his accomplishments are highly regarded the world over. He has written almost 800 original articles and chapters and more than 30 books or edited works. He has on multiple occasions been an advisor for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Medical Commission of the International Olympic Committee. He has served as President of seven major national or international organizations including the Society for Gynecological Investigation, American Society for Reproductive Medicine, American College of Medical Genetics, and at present International Federation of Fertility Societies (like March of Dimes, a Non-Governmental Organization in official relations with the World Health Organization). Since 1994, he has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine. He has been a valued and inspirational colleague for the March of Dimes since 1983.

Program Directors

Deborah A. Driscoll, M.D. is the Luigi Mastroianni, Jr. Professor and Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also the Director of the Center for Research on Reproduction and Women’s Health. Dr. Driscoll, an obstetrician-geneticist, is internationally recognized for her research on DiGeorge/velocardiofacial syndrome and the 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, genetic screening and the care of women with genetic disorders. Dr. Driscoll was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 2010. She is the principle investigator of the NICHD Women’s Reproductive Health Research (WRHR) career development program at Penn. She served on the Board of Directors of the American College of Medical Genetics and was chair of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Genetics. Currently, Dr. Driscoll serves on the March of Dimes Scientific Advisory Committee on Prematurity and the Public Policy Advisory Committee and is the President of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Council of University Chairs in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Rebecca A Simmons, M.D. is the Hallam Hurt Professor of Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. She is an attending neonatologist at Children's Hospital Philadelphia and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. For the past 25 years, Dr. Simmons’ research has focused on determining the underlying molecular mechanisms that link an abnormal intrauterine milieu to the later development of diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cognitive defects and cerebral palsy after birth. Using different animal models, Dr. Simmons is elucidating the role of epigenetic mechanisms (DNA methylation, histone modifications, non-coding RNAs) in the development of an abnormal phenotype in the offspring. Using next generation sequencing, she is also assessing how obesity impacts the epigenome and the transcriptome of the oocyte and early embryo. Dr. Simmons’ research has been continuously funded by the NIH and the American Diabetes Association for over 25 years. She has been the recipient of multiple awards and has served on NIH and ADA study sections as well as editorial boards of several journals.

Michal Elovitz, M.D. is Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine,Director of the Maternal and Child Health Research Program and the Director of the Maternal and Fetal Medicine Fellowship Training Program. For the last 14 years, Dr. Elovitz has been at the forefront of preterm birth research. Her development of mouse models to study the mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of preterm birth are used internationally to further the field. Dr. Elovitz’s research on the role of the cervix, cervical remodeling and host immune-microbiome interactions as key steps in preterm birth represent a new paradigm and are the focus of her work for the March of Dimes Transdisciplinary Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania. She serves as Project Leader and Director of the animal and clinical cores for the Center. Dr. Elovitz is also the lead investigator for several other studies that explore the mechanisms and consequences of preterm birth, funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), National Institute for Nursing Research (NINR), the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). She is a past recipient of grants from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and the March of Dimes Prematurity Initiative. She has over 80 peer reviewed research publications and has successfully mentored many fellows and postdoctoral candidates.She is highly regarded for her expertise and serves as a grant reviewer for the National Institute of Health and the March of Dimes Translational Awards.

Samuel Parry, M.D. is an Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and is the Chief of the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Division in the University of Pennsylvania Health System. Dr. Parry has spent the past 15 years studying genetic and environmental causes of preterm birth. He is the principal investigator at Penn for the NICHD Genomic and Proteomic Network for Preterm Birth Research (Analytical Core), the NICHD Network to Study Preterm Birth in Nulliparous Women (nuMOM2b), and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Heart Health Study (Pregnancy as a Window to Future Cardiovascular Health). The NIH has funded Dr. Parry continuously since 2004, and he has utilized various placenta models to study the impact of viral and bacterial infections on placental function and adverse pregnancy outcomes, particularly spontaneous preterm birth. His research efforts have yielded more than 70 peer reviewed publications. Dr. Parry is an Associate Editor of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and an Examiner for the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology MFM Subspecialty Examinations. He is a member of the American Gynecological and Obstetrical Society. Dr. Parry is widely recognized for his expertise in placental biology and preterm birth research, and he serves a member of the NICHD’s Obstetrics and Maternal-Fetal Biology Subcommittee and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine (SMFM) Pregnancy Foundation/American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Foundation (AAOGF) Scholarly Committee.