Our History (2007 to Today)


GAPPS enters a new chapter as an independent non-profit organization, separating from Seattle Children’s. GAPPS mission and vision remain the same as we continue to work to improve birth outcomes worldwide.


The Preventing Preterm Birth Initiative funds additional projects that discover and characterize the complex array of biological processes that occur with normal and abnormal pregnancies. The goal is to develop biomarkers to identify at-risk pregnancies through rigorous analysis of underlying biological mechanisms that lead to preterm birth, focusing on the role of high dimensional systems biology and its applications in pregnancy. Results from the awards will be combined to investigate, in a comprehensive fashion, the multiple, complex factors regulating normal pregnancy and preterm birth.


The GAPPS Repository is selected to contribute to a novel research program called ECHO PATHWAYS, focused on how environmental factors during pregnancy affect childhood health outcomes. ECHO PATHWAYS is part of the larger NIH funded ECHO initiative (Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes). The GAPPS Repository is providing specimens and questionnaires completed by mothers throughout pregnancy. More than 1,100 Repository participants will also be recruited for follow up visits to understand the current health of the children.


GAPPS is awarded a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to establish a strategy for developing systems that monitor and track the safety of maternal immunization programs in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and develop a roadmap for program development. With input from a large group of interdisciplinary technical experts, GAPPS developed the landmark report: Maternal Immunization Safety Monitoring in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Roadmap for Program Development.


In partnership with Project Concern International and the American College of Nurse Midwives, GAPPS receives a five-year United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Cooperative Agreement for the Every Preemie—SCALE project, designed to provide practical, catalytic and scalable approaches for expanding uptake of preterm birth and low birth weight interventions in 24 USAID priority countries in Africa and Asia.


The Preventing Preterm Birth Initiative funds two international repository sites that will allow researchers to investigate preterm birth and stillbirth in low- and middle-income countries. This expands the GAPPS repository and allows us to develop international cohorts. The GAPPS repository has been developed to accelerate research in pregnancy health through broad access to data and specimens and use of standardized, harmonized methods to ensure quality.


GAPPS, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the March of Dimes Foundation, founds the Global Coalition to Advance Preterm Birth Research (GCAPR) to build visibility, investment, collaboration and accelerate resources devoted to preterm birth research. GAPPS serves as the GCAPR Secretariat.

GAPPS coordinates the development of a roadmap of preterm birth research that is adopted by the Coalition and published in The Lancet Global Health in December 2013.


GAPPS launches the GAPPS Repository, an internationally accessible biorepository to advance innovative research of both normal and abnormal pregnancies, including how pregnancy affects maternal and child health after delivery. It is the only collection of specimens linked to detailed information from pregnant women that is available to a wide range of researchers. The GAPPS Repository currently has more than 8,000 individual specimens available to scientists, with 800-900 specimens being added each month. The collection includes contributions from women representing a range of racial, ethnic, regional, and socioeconomic backgrounds.


The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation selects GAPPS to steward a Grand Challenges in Global Health grant to discover and develop novel interventions to prevent preterm birth. The Preventing Preterm Birth (PPB) initiative has awarded nine research grants that collectively form a global consortium bridging innovative basic science investigators with study sites in low-income countries.


In partnership with PATH, GAPPS developed a Perinatal Interventions Program (PIP) to aid providers in assisting mothers and newborns before, during and after birth. After an initial design phase, the PIP pilot materials were tested with stakeholders in Africa and Bangladesh for feedback on how to improve the program for use in the field.


GAPPS publishes a seven-part Global Report on Preterm Birth and Stillbirth: The Foundation for Innovative Solutions and Improved Outcomes in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. This report includes a landscape analysis supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the results of the 2009 International Conference on Prematurity and Stillbirth.


GAPPS forms a Harmonization Strategy Workgroup composed of representatives from large, prospective, maternal data specimen collections, and experts from relevant research areas to explore opportunities for harmonization across collection sites to advance basic and translational research.

GAPPS sponsors a peer-reviewed symposium on ethical issues in prematurity and stillbirth at the World Congress in Bioethics, co-chaired by Drs. Maureen Kelley and Richard Cash, Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard School of Public Health. The conferences helped launch several ethics-based research projects.


GAPPS, with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the March of Dimes, PATH, Save the Children, UNICEF and the World Health Organization, convenes the first International Conference on Prematurity and Stillbirth. More than 200 stakeholders attend the conference and develop a Global Action Agenda. Many of the recommendations in the Agenda have been implemented by GAPPS and others.


The GAPPS team expands to include international investigators from WHO, the University of Washington, Seattle Children’s Research Institute, Aga Khan University, Save the Children, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Universidade Católica de Pelotas and Universidade Federal de Pelotas.


The Sellen Community Foundation donates to Seattle Children’s to expand research in prematurity. This funding was pivotal in supporting the creation of GAPPS and allowed us to begin working on our mission to understand and prevent prematurity and stillbirths.


Seattle Children’s founds the Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth (GAPPS) to focus attention and research on reducing the impact of adverse birth outcomes.