PTBi-EA is a multi-year research partnership comprising UCSF, Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), University of Rwanda, Rwanda Biomedical Center, and Makerere University in Uganda. We are generously funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Our Guiding Principles


A world where all babies and mothers survive and thrive.


PTBi-EA decreases the burden of preterm birth and improves quality of care for all babies and mothers. We build capactiy and engage stakeholders to generate and use evidence that improves maternal health policy and practice.


Collaboration Excellence Sustainability  Innovation  Integrity  Empathy

Our History

How can you decrease the burden of prematurity in East Africa? This is the question the Maternal Newborn Child Health Team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation asked. After a planning phase, where we conducted exhaustive evidence reviews, held countless expert consultations, and engaged in intense debate among groups of stakeholders, the UCSF team concluded that for our work in Kenya and Uganda, it wasn’t a single intervention. Instead, a package of facility-based interventions implemented by partners on the ground offered the best hope.

In October 2015, with our research partners at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and Makerere University, we launched a randomized controlled trial of a package of evidence-based interventions targeting the intrapartum period. In Rwanda, where prevention of prematurity seemed possible, a technical working group of stakeholders (including members from our partners the University of Rwanda and Rwanda Biomedical Center) developed a context-specific model of group antenatal care and launched the world’s largest trial to test the model’s impact on prematurity. Recognizing that serious questions remained and considering UCSF’s strength in basic science, we incorporated a discovery research component designed to support emerging scientists with project grants and mentorship.

Our Research Platform

Our research platform harnesses the collective passion and expertise of individuals and institutions across disciplines to improve outcomes for preterm babies and their mothers. The primary implementation science studies and research teams in each country serve as the foundation for the platform and provide a research infrastructure to support smaller “nested” studies. As these nested studies inform each other, we gain a deeper understanding of the circumstances surrounding preterm birth across the life course. The platform amplifies impact through these collaborations, accelerates the research timeline, and provides access to insights, infrastructure, and knowledge.