VCU bar logo

Multi-'Omic Microbiome Study-Pregnancy Initiative


We have trillions of bacteria, or microbes, in and on our bodies all the time. Many microbes are helpful, like the bacteria in our digestive tracts, which break down food. However, others can make us ill or more susceptible to disease. We, as scientists, doctors and healthcare providers, are trying to figure out how different kinds of microbes can lead to healthy pregnancies and deliveries as well as how they contribute to complications like early labor and delivery. Babies get their first microbes from their mothers. Understanding what microbes are present will provide information to give babies a healthier start in life!

Briefly, the study involves following the microbes of pregnant women throughout pregnancy and a little while after childbirth. Participants will be asked to provide samples from the mouth, skin, vagina and rectum. At one or two visits, participants will also be asked to provide a blood sample. Women who enroll will be asked to answer questions about their health and other activities throughout the study. We will also ask to collect samples from both mothers and infants at birth and before discharge.

MOMS-PI Scientific Research Overview

The Multi-Omic Microbiome Study-Pregnancy Initiative (MOMS-PI) is a collaborative project with the Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth (GAPPS) based at Seattle Children's and is funded by the NIH Roadmap Human Microbiome Project. Together, we are committed to understanding the impact of the vaginal microbiome on pregnancy, pregnancy-related complications and the impact on the fetal microbiome. Preterm birth is the leading cause of death in neonates, thus our efforts are largely focused on assessing the role of the microbiome on preterm birth and maternal-infant health.

MOMS-PI is a multifaceted initiative to generate large and comprehensive datasets using six "omics" technologies: 1) metagenomic rRNA gene sequencing, 2) whole metagenomic shotgun sequencing, 3) metatranscriptomics, 4) metabolomics/lipidomics, 5) immunoproteomics and 6) interactomics. Samples will be collected throughout the course of pregnancy from a cohort of ~2000 women. We believe this large-scale, innovative effort will lead to insights into how the microbiome impacts risk for preterm birth and the temporal dynamics of the pregnancy microbiome.

NIH (NICHR)02_1U54DE023786-01/(NICHD)8U54HD080784
$7.44 M HMP Phase 2: The Integrative Human Microbiome Project (iHMP)
Principal Investigators:
Gregory A. Buck, Ph.D.
Kimberly K. Jefferson, Ph.D.
Jerome F. Strauss, III, M.D., Ph.D.
Project Director:
Jennifer M. Fettweis, Ph.D.

Specific Aims

  1. What is the impact of pregnancy on the maternal microbiome?
  2. How does the microbiome effect maternal host response?
  3. How do the maternal host response and microbiome influence risk of preterm birth, early infant microbiome acquisition and neonatal health?
  4. What are the mechanisms by which the microbiome exerts effects on the female urogenital tract?

MOMS-PI Contact Information

To contact a research coordinator or to ask questions about study visits or compensation, please email or call us.
phone: (804) VCU-MOMS / (804) 828-6667

You may also contact the Principal Investigator of the study (Gregory A. Buck, Ph.D.) with questions. If you are a research participant and need medical advice, please contact your primary health provider or call 911 for emergency services.


Contact Us:

phone: (804) VCU-MOMS / (804) 828-6667

  • logo
  • logo
  • logo
  • logo