Mother Infant Research Institute (MIRI)

Collaborations + Resources


The Mother Infant Research Institute (MIRI) takes a multi-disciplinary, trans-generational approach to the problems of preterm birth and obesity. While other institutions focus their research and studies on individual investigators or departments, MIRI applies a cross-platform thematic approach.

MIRI’s multidisciplinary research teams leverage world-class expertise present across the campus of Tufts University.

Tufts Medical Center, the principal teaching hospital for Tufts University School of Medicine, has advanced pediatric, maternity and adult services all on one Boston academic campus. This enables our physicians to serve families across the lifespan and facilitates linkage of medical records for research purposes.

The 41-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Tufts Children's Hospital at Tufts Medical Center has undergone rigorous peer-review selection to participate in the National Institutes of Health’s Neonatal Research Network; Tufts Children's Hospital is the only NICU in Massachusetts currently selected to participate.

This national consortium of 16 NICUs collaborates on clinical research projects to identify best clinical practices and test new protocols to accelerate the introduction of clinical advances in NICUs throughout the United States. In addition, the Tufts Medical Center NICU is a designated March of Dimes Family Support Center.

MIRI’s internal research collaborators include physicians and scientists at Tufts Children's Hospital, Tufts Medical Center and its other research institutes, and faculty at Tufts University.

Some of the personnel and resources available that especially align with MIRI’s mission include: 

Human Nutrition Research Center

  • One of only six human nutrition research centers in America supported by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Mission is to explore the relationship between nutrition, health, and aging
  • Specific research laboratories dedicated to the study of obesity metabolism and nutritional genomics
  • Faculty include an internationally renowned expert in nutritional genomics

School of Engineering (Department of Biomedical Engineering)

  • Long-term NIH support for research, resources, and expertise related to biomaterials, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine
  • Advanced skills in the optical, noninvasive imaging of cells, tissues and extracellular matrices and biomaterials
  • Unique expertise in the development of novel silk-based biomaterials for a range of applications in medicine, including construction of 3D functional human tissues for clinical use (in vivo), the study of disease (in vitro), drug screening (in vitro), and for drug delivery (in vivo)

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (Department of Neuroscience)

  • One of the top 10 departments of Neurosciences in the United States
  • Expertise in study of cognition, epilepsy, depression (including post-partum), and neurodegeneration
  • Faculty include an international leader in the study of glia in health and disease
  • Faculty in Anatomy and Cell Biology include one of the world’s experts in bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical in plastic that is an endocrine disruptor and causes harmful effects to mothers and children, including obesity

Clinical Translational Science Institute (CTSI)

  • One of 55 institutions in 28 states funded by the National Center for Research Resources at NIH
  • Provides research infrastructural support to 9 Tufts University-affiliated hospitals, 11 schools and centers within Tufts University, 13 Community-based partners, and 7 industry partners
  • Goal is to reduce the time for laboratory discoveries to become treatments for patients, engage communities in research efforts, and to train clinical and translational researchers
  • Provides specific expertise to MIRI researchers in biomedical informatics, study design support, as well as a clinical translational research facility for patient-centered studies

MIRI’s multidisciplinary research teams collaborate with investigators at academic centers across the United States and internationally.

NIH R01 HD091054
“Placental Lipid Metabolism Impacts Fetal Adiposity and is Programmed by the Maternal Metabolic Milieu in Early Pregnancy.”
Collaborators: Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Boston, MA; Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, Department of Reproductive Biology
PrincipaI Investigator: Perrie O’Tierney-Ginn, MIRI
Co-Investigator: Patrick Catalano, MIRI
Co-Investigator: Sai Das, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging
Co-Investigator: Sylvie Hauguel deMouzon, Case Western Reserve University

NIH R01 HD091735
“Placental miRNA Profiles Associated with Maternal Insulin Resistance and Fetal Adiposity: Maternal-Placental Crosstalk.”
Collaborator: Magee Womens Research Institute, Pittsburgh, PA
PrincipaI Investigator: Perrie O’Tierney-Ginn, MIRI
Co-Investigator: Patrick Catalano, MIRI
Co-Investigator: Yoel Sadovsky, Magee-Womens Research Institute

RO1 DK109956-01A1 
“Level and timing of diabetic hyperglycemia in utero: the transgenerational effect on adult morbidity (TEAM Study).”
Collaborator: University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH,
Co-Investigator: Patrick Catalano, MIRI
Principal Investigator: Jane Khoury, University of Cincinnati

NICHD, R01 HD086088-01
“Somatosensory Modulation of Salivary Gene Expression and Oral Feeding in Preterm Infants.”
Collaborator: University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska, Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders
 Co-Principal Investigator: Jill Maron, MIRI
 Co-Principal Investigator: Steven Barlow, University of Nebraska

NIH, 1R01HD084695-01A1
“Mechanisms of Infection-Mediated Cervical Ripening.”
Collaborator: Tufts University, Medford, MA
 Department of Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering
 Co-Principal Investigator: Michael House, MIRI
 Co-Principal Investigator: David Kaplan, Tufts University

NIH/NICHD NIH HD 088061-01A1
“Lifestyle Intervention in Preparation for Pregnancy.”
Collaborator: Pennington Research Institute, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
C-Principal Investigator: Patrick Catalano, MIRI
Co-Principal Investigator: John Kirwan, Pennington Research Institute

Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute Pilot Award
“FOXP2 Gene Expression Levels: A Noninvasive Biomarker to Predict both Oral Feeding and Speech-Language Success.”
Collaborator: Northeastern University, Boston, MA, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders
 Co-Principal Investigator: Jill Maron, MIRI
 Co-Principal Investigator: Emily Zimmerman, Northeastern University

“Comparison of Two Screening Strategies for Gestational Diabetes.”
Collaborator: University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, Department of Medicine, Clinical and Translational Science
Co-Investigator: Patrick Catalano, MIRI 
Principal Investigator: Esa Davis, University of Pittsburgh 

NIH, R01 HD076140-01
“A Molecular Assessment of the Consequences of Preterm Birth.”
Collaborator: Tufts University, Medford, MA, Department of Computer Science
 Co-Principal Investigator: Jill Maron, MIRI
 Co-Principal Investigator: Donna Slonim, Tufts University

NIH/NIDDK NIH R8S119091                         
“Hyperglycemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcome-Follow up Study (HAPO-FUS).”
Collaborator: Northwestern University, Department of Medicine, Evanston, IL
Co-Principal Investigator and Vice Chair Executive Committee: Patrick Catalano, MIRI
Co-Principal Investigator: Boyd Metzger, Northwestern University