“With nine institutional partners across Malawi, Tanzania, India, and the U.S., the LIFE Consortium is using a multidisciplinary approach to learn how to improve the health of vulnerable infants, especially infants weighing less than 2,500 grams [5.5 pounds] at birth.”
—KATHERINE SEMRAU, PHD, MPH
Known for championing disruptive ideas that improve healthcare, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has contributed extraordinary support to global healthcare scientists in the Brigham community over the years. Recently, the foundation made grants of $6.7 million to support the Low Birthweight Infant Feeding Exploration (LIFE) study led by Katherine Semrau, PhD, MPH, in collaboration with an international group of researchers.
Semrau directs the BetterBirth Program at Ariadne Labs, a joint center for health systems innovation at the Brigham and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Semrau and her team develop evidence-based and scalable solutions that are implemented in low- and middle-income regions of the world. Specifically, the program develops global strategies to improve care for expectant and new mothers, address vulnerabilities for babies born at less than 5.5 pounds, and end preventable deaths of women and babies around the time of childbirth.
Around the world each year, approximately 20 million babies are born low birthweight, putting them at higher risk of death, health complications, and poor growth. The LIFE study team is examining current practices and standard of care for low birthweight babies, documenting outcomes, and assessing infant feeding interventions that will be the most efficient and feasible, particularly for babies struggling with breastfeeding or growth.
“With nine institutional partners across Malawi, Tanzania, India, and the U.S., the LIFE Consortium is using a multidisciplinary approach to learn how to improve the health of vulnerable infants, especially infants weighing less than 2,500 grams [5.5 pounds] at birth,” says Semrau. “We’re honored to receive continued funding from the Gates Foundation to support infants through the first year of life.”