Boston Children’s Hospital and uBiome to Investigate Premature Births

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uBiome, the leading microbial genomics company, has awarded its latest Microbiome Impact Grant to leading geneticist Dr. Olaf Bodamer of Boston Children’s Hospital to support his investigation of preterm birth.

With [Dr. Bodamer’s] past rich experience in pediatric genomics, he is ideally placed to lead this new work, which has the potential to impact the almost 500,000 preterm babies delivered in the United States each year.

uBiome, the leader in microbial genomics, has awarded the next in its series of Microbiome Impact Grants to Dr. Olaf Bodamer of Boston Children’s Hospital, who will study the genomics of women throughout their pregnancies in order to better understand preterm birth, a condition affecting one in ten babies born in the United States.

Dr. Bodamer will study women through their pregnancies and beyond, in order to create the first-ever integrated, longitudinal “omics” dataset with particular focus on preterm birth. The term “omics” informally refers to biological studies ending in -omics, such as genomics, proteomics, or metabolomics.

A preterm birth is one in which a baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy have been completed. In 2015, approximately one of every ten infants born in the United States were born premature; nearly a third of infant deaths are of those born premature.

Dr. Bodamer’s study will focus on births occurring in collaboration with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center where the birth rate is over 4,000 newborn infants per year. The research promises to be of major interest for a number of scientific and clinical translational groups at the hospitals themselves as well as for affiliated institutions, including Harvard Medical School and The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

Dr. Bodamer is one of the world’s leading experts in pediatrics, biochemistry, and human and molecular genetics. He is Park Gerald Chair of Genetics and Genomics at Boston Children’s Hospital, and is also its Associate Chief of Genetics and Genomics, as well as heading the a translational research laboratory.

The focus of Dr. Bodamer’s work is at the intersection of clinical genetics and translational science. He has a busy clinical practice at Boston Children’s Hospital where he sees individuals with complex genetic disorders, including inborn errors of metabolism. Dr. Bodamer has published more than 130 papers.

The microbiome is the collective term for the ecosystem of trillions of microorganisms that live in and on the human body. Many play important parts in supporting life. For example, gut bacteria aid digestion and enable the synthesis of vitamins. Pathogenic bacteria, however, can be associated with a range of conditions, some serious. A growing body of research shows that the human microbiome also plays a role in pregnancy outcomes, including preterm birth. uBiome uses precision sequencing technology to generate detailed analyses of the human microbiome.

Dr. Olaf Bodamer, Associate Chief of Genetics and Genomics at Boston Children’s Hospital, says: “While it is, of course, of considerable concern that the level of preterm births in our region is higher than average, the situation provides us with significant opportunities to learn more about ways in which human genomics and the maternal microbiome might predict pregnancy outcomes. In the long term, we hope that more knowledge could lead to less preterm births.”

Dr. Jessica Richman, co-founder and CEO of uBiome, says: “Dr. Bodamer’s study is exactly the kind of work our Microbiome Impact Grants are designed to support. With his past rich experience in pediatric genomics, he is ideally placed to lead this new work, which has the potential to impact the almost 500,000 preterm babies delivered in the United States each year.”

Dr. Zachary Apte, co-founder and CTO of uBiome, adds: “Awarding a grant to Dr. Bodamer’s work was an easy decision for our scientific review committee. We’re happy to support this potentially ground-breaking study that promises to make a major contribution to infant health.”

Founded in 2012, uBiome is the world’s leading microbial genomics company. uBiome is funded by Y Combinator, Andreessen Horowitz, 8VC, and other leading investors.

uBiome’s mission is to explore important research questions about the microbiome and to develop accurate and reliable clinical tests based on the microbiome.

Julie Taylor
Ph: +1 (415) 212-9214


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Julie Taylor
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