$5.3 million grant boosts global maternal and newborn care

$5.3 million grant boosts global maternal and newborn care

Anne “CC” Lee, MD, MPH (far right), with her daughter and colleagues on a field visit in Ethiopia.


“I’m so grateful to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. We share the same vision to ensure mothers and babies in low-income countries are surviving and thriving, no matter who or where they are in the world.”
ANNE “CC” LEE, MD, MPH


Anne “CC” Lee, MD, MPH, often considers how access to basic healthcare—or its absence—can dramatically alter the lives of mothers and babies around the world.

“In low-income countries, a full-term healthy baby is up to 50 times more likely to die in childbirth than if they had been born in Boston,” says Lee, who directs the Global Newborn Health Lab at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Lee’s research ideas captured the attention of one of the world’s foremost philanthropic forces in global health and development: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. They granted the Brigham a $5.3 million award to advance Lee’s work to improve healthcare delivery for mothers and babies in resource-limited regions.

Lee’s multi-year clinical trial in Ethiopia will examine ways to thwart two life-threatening problems: maternal undernutrition and infections during pregnancy. Both issues are significantly linked with low birth weight, preterm birth, and other risks.

Collaborating with the Addis Continental Institute of Public Health, Lee is enrolling 5,000 pregnant women to receive enhanced infection screening and treatment and/or packages of varying nutritional supplements. The study aims to understand which interventions are best at boosting birth weight and other health benefits for babies and their mothers.

“CC is using her tremendous skills to move the needle to improve the survival of these most vulnerable babies,” says Terrie E. Inder, MD, MBChB, chair of the Brigham’s Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine. “Her efforts are succeeding in bringing attention to places where simple interventions can save many lives.”

Leading up to this study, the foundation made awards totaling $600,000 to support Lee’s maternal/newborn health projects. She notes that their investments worldwide are hastening progress toward health equity.

“I’m so grateful to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,” Lee says. “We share the same vision to ensure mothers and babies in low-income countries are surviving and thriving, no matter who or where they are in the world. Every baby deserves the equal opportunity for a healthy start in life.”