PTBi-CA Funded Awards in Prematurity Research

Twice a year, PTBi-CA seeks applications for innovative awards in prematurity research:


Being born prematurely is the leading cause of death for children under 5, worldwide, and preterm babies who do survive often face a lifetime of health complications. Unlike other high-income countries, rates of preterm birth are on the rise in the US, particularly among women of color. Preterm birth is an epidemic and in part a reflection of systemic inequities Black and Latinx women in the US face, affecting all aspects of their lifespan.

The California Preterm Birth Initiative is working to change this reality by trying to reduce preterm birth rates, address racial disparities, and improve birth outcomes for preterm babies. Our research is place-based, holistic, and considers social mechanisms hand in hand with biological factors. The California Preterm Birth Initiative (PTBi-CA) conducts and funds research across the life course (preconception, prenatal, and postnatal) focused on and in collaboration with communities in Fresno, Oakland and San Francisco.

Applications for the Spring 2018 cycle are currently under review, and award notifications will be available in June 2018. The next application cycle will open in August 2018. Learn more and apply using the UCSF Research Allocation Program (RAP) online portal.


Spring 2018 opportunity [Deadline: Feburary 26, 2018]

The California Preterm Birth Initiative seeks highly innovative research proposals which meet the following criteria:

OUTCOMES: Research proposals should have strong potential to reduce preterm birth rates, disparities, and/or improve birth outcomes for babies born prematurely, especially in our communities of focus in Fresno, Oakland and San Francisco.

FOCUS: Research proposals should be aligned with one or more of PTBi-CA’s research aims:

  • Aim 1. Discovery and Precision Health-Focused Research – We seek to better understand the chronic stressors and protective factors that may affect preterm birth and the health outcomes of mothers and their babies.
  • Aim 2. Interventions Research – We seek to reveal, and ultimately mitigate, the behavioral, structural and policy-level barriers that impede scale-up of interventions that work to combat preterm birth; and to explore promising new interventions across the reproductive life course (preconception, prenatal and postnatal strategies).
  • Aim 3. Collective Impact – We are engaged in cross-sector, community-driven collaborative efforts that engage multiple academic, governmental, and community stakeholders to reduce preterm birth at the population level.
  • Aim 4. Communication, Collaboration, and Capacity Building (C3) – We work to disseminate knowledge regarding preterm birth, partner with diverse stakeholders, and build capacity domestically and globally.

Applications that address compelling research questions within any of the four PTBi-CA aims will be considered. Additionally, successful applications will demonstrate:

  • transdisciplinary (or multi-sector) collaboration,
  • a health equity focus, and
  • a commitment to community involvement in the planning and performance of the project.

For more information, please watch these short videos About the Preterm Birth Initiative and how we Partner with Community Members to prioritize research for funding. Please note that emphasis is given to proposals that supplement our current research portfolio.


Read our current research portfolio, here


All projects require the participation of a UCSF Co-Investigator:

  • UCSF Faculty in any series, including adjunct and professional research series, and at all ranks: Instructors, Assistant Professors, Associate Professors, Professors can apply.
  • Residents, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Clinical Fellow, clinical and staff research scientists, can also apply.

Researchers with the following affiliations are encouraged to apply:

  • UCSF-Affiliates
  • Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland (BCHO) researchers: all research, hospital-based, clinical and staff scientists at any level (including postdoctoral fellows), including those affiliated with the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI).
  • UCSF Fresno researchers: all affiliated researchers including faculty in any professional research series, fellows, research scientists and emeritus faculty.

Research teams outside of UCSF and/or community-based investigators in one of our three target geographies are encouraged to contact to be matched with an interested collaborating UCSF co-investigator.


Review Process

Applications that are complete and meet eligibility requirements will be evaluated by three committees: the PTBi-CA Community Advisory Board (CAB), a UCSF scientific review committee, and the PTBi-CA leadership team. PTBi-CA will make the final funding decisions after considering the CAB and scientific reviews and the alignment of the highest quality proposals with our stated goals and current research portfolio.


PTBi-CA pursues holistic, place-based and community-engaged research. We are committed to partnering with community stakeholders throughout our efforts, and have convened a Community Advisory Board (CAB) comprised of:

  • Community members who have experienced preterm birth, are at-risk for preterm birth, and/or who have family members affected by preterm birth
  • Clinic- or hospital-based providers of women at risk for preterm birth or babies born preterm
  • Community-based service providers serving communities with high rates of preterm birth
  • Current or former preterm birth-related research study participants

CAB members evaluate submitted proposals based on the scientific abstract, and a plain language summary detailing the project’s background and history of the work, scope, community-engagement efforts and impact (see #3 below in Application Instructions), with access to the full proposal upon request. It is essential that applicants develop a plain language summary that is clear, engaging, and written specifically for a general, lay audience. Please note that CAB review is a significant component of the review process. CAB review criteria include:

  1. Impact: Will the study answer questions that are important to women of reproductive age and their families in San Francisco, Oakland, or Fresno?
  2. Partnership: Does the application demonstrate engagement and involvement of community members or community-based organizations in the planning and/or performance/review of the study?
  3. Dissemination: Is the plan to disseminate study results to the project participants (and broader community, if applicable) appropriate and effective?

Learn more about crafting a compelling summary for the Community Advisory Board review.



Applications will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by a review committee convened by the UCSF Resource Allocation Program (RAP) and assigned an overall score, in accordance with specific PTBi-CA review criteria:

  1. Scope: Does the project address the research priorities outlined in the RFA?
  2. Impact: Will the project lead to improvements in the prematurity research field for the populations and geographies of focus?
  3. Approach/Innovation: Is the research question and proposed design appropriate for the project scope and timeline? Is the proposal novel or innovative?
  4. Investigative team: Does the proposed team include members who are experienced in areas that are directly related to the proposed project?
  5. Transdisciplinarity: To what degree does the project use a transdisciplinary approach, including engagement with the community? A transdisciplinary team with differing areas of professional and community-based expertise is encouraged.
  6. Institutional support: Does the project have the support of the departments and/or organizations involved?
  7. Budget: Is the budget appropriate for the project scope and timeline?


Terms of the Award

  1. PTBi-CA is committed to building capacity among researchers and community stakeholders to engage in collaborative transdisciplinary work and the dissemination of new ideas. Awardees are required to attend two meetings that are meant to encourage the cross-fertilization of ideas that spark new transdisciplinary, cross-sector partnerships (which may lead to further funding opportunities):
  • PTBi-CA grantees meeting (one-day retreat held during the funding period) to discuss/present works-in-progress or results with other grantees, researchers, the PTBi-CA Community Advisory Board, and other PTBi-CA stakeholders.
  • Events to honor World Prematurity Day, November 17, 2018.

Grantees are also encouraged to attend other PTBi-CA-sponsored networking opportunities that foster innovation and collaboration, including our monthly Collaboratory series.

  1. All investigators who enroll human subjects must include a plan to disseminate their research results to the project participants and the broader community.
  2. All studies involving human participants will require approval by or exemption from the UCSF Committee on Human Research (CHR) as well as evidence of IRB approval from other institutions involved in the project (as appropriate) within three months of receiving their award letter. Studies involving research on live animals or on tissues collected from live animals will require approval from the UCSF Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) within three months of receiving their award letter. If a project is selected for funding, proof of CHR or IACUC approval must be supplied before funds can be released.
  3. Investigators seeking funding for biospecimen testing will be asked to submit a data-sharing plan that will allow the sharing of individual-level biomarker/-omic data (without identifiers) through collaborative agreements after the initial publication of results.
  4. PTBi-CA actively encourages the publication of results from all work, including those that do not find an association or effect. All publications and presentations resulting from the research funded by PTBi-CA must be acknowledged as: This research was supported by the University of California, San Francisco’s California Preterm Birth Initiative, funded by Marc and Lynne Benioff.