Sandbjerg Estate The second PREBIC workshop was held in at the Sandbjerg Estate near Soenderborg, Denmark in June 2004 and was organized by NANEA (University of Aarhus, Denmark). This initiative brought together 40 physicians and scientists from around the globe working in the field of Perinatal Obstetrics with a specific interest in Prematurity. The two-day workshop were held to initiate discussions and perhaps even generate protocols on various branches of prematurity such as epidemiology, clinical and biochemical pathways, biomarkers, intervention and genetics. The organizers overall aim with these groupings were to conduct organized research aimed to prevent the risk of prematurity.

The eight-member team assigned to “Genetics in Prematurity” topic met for the first time during the workshop under the leadership of Bo Jacobsson. The team, beside Bo Jacobsson also included Mehmet Genc, Gunvor Ekman-Ordeberg, Mario Merialdi, Ramkumar Menon, Hyagriv Simhan, Mads Hollegaard and Poul Thorsen. After the initial introduction of the members, it was clear that this was a vibrant team. The team comprised of experts within different areas of prematurity all contributing equally with their knowledge. At the end of the meeting this devoted group came up with, not only a protocol for a genetic study in preterm birth, but also a collaborative with the slogan “Keep the Fire Burning!” as a picture of the unique interaction and engagement of each member in the group.

The PREGENIA group at WHO HQ in Geneva The fire indeed was kept burning after the Denmark meeting. The enthusiastic researchers kept the objective alive by conference calls, exchanging ideas, contacting Granting agencies and initiated the submission of Grant applications. The team met at the World Health Organization Head Quarters (Geneva, Switzerland) in early September 2004 to finalize Grant applications and to formalize a strategic plan to get funds to initiate research activities. This meeting was organized by Mario Merialdi (WHO) and was funded by NANEA (Denmark). The team, at this time also expanded to include the experts Stephen Fortunato and Scott Williams. The initial agenda of the meeting was to name the Group and the name PREterm birth and GENetics International Alliance or PREGENIA was chosen unanimously. The two and a half day meeting at WHO was extremely successful and the team finalized a Grant application which was submitted for consideration to the Well-Being Foundation and the also initiated the preparation of a review article which will lay the foundations for future Genetics Research. PREGENIA also formed a steering committee comprising of Bo Jacobsson, Ram Menon, Hy Simhan. Mario Merialdi and Poul Thorsen. The steering committee was authorized to make key decisions for the team. 

The steering committee held conference calls every month (often more than once) to discuss various issues regarding research activities, funds and Grants. The third PREGENIA meeting was held in Atlanta in December 2004 in connection with an invitation received from Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, USA (CDC). PREGENIA held a two-day meeting, finalized the review article, and came up with some ground rules for PREGENIA activities. On December 2nd PREGENIA was asked to give a talk at CDC. Bo Jacobsson, Mario Merialdi and Scott Williams gave a 2-hour presentation on PREGENIA activities, research goals, and analytical methodologies of Genetics research. The presentation was well accepted by the audience at CDC and the group were afterwards approached by possible collaborators for future investigations. At the Atlanta meeting was also decided that a homepage and a logo should be created.

The fire is still burning among the PREGENIAns. After 7 months of existence, PREGENIA have already applied for two funds and has become a force in the Genetic Research of Prematurity with a strong objective and dedication .   The research team still has a strong fire burning inside to solve the issues of PREMATURITY.

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