National Centre for Miscarriage Research officially opens

The UK’s first national research centre dedicated to early miscarriage will open today, funded by Tommy’s, the UK baby charity that funds research into miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth.

Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research will comprise a partnership of three universities: The University of Birmingham, The University of Warwick, and Imperial College London, working with their affiliated NHS Trusts.  Birmingham Women’s Hospital, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, St Mary’s Hospital in London and Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital in London will run specialist miscarriage clinics enabling 24,000 women per year to access treatment and support and participate in Tommy’s research studies.

In the centre's first year, £400,000 is being contributed by Tommy’s supporters. This is being matched by £100,000 from the Genesis Research Trust (with a further £100,000 in the second year) and over £700,000 of institutional funding not including overheads.

This national networkwill seek to understand why miscarriage happens, if it is likely to happen again and how toprevent it. Tommy’s is also investing in research to better support women and their families following a miscarriage.

Professor Arri Coomarasamy, from the University of Birmingham and Director of Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research, said, “Miscarriage is a common but deeply personal and often isolating experience for many couples. Tommy's #misCOURAGE campaign is beginning to provide clear evidence on the wide-scale devastation it causes.”

“At the Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research, we are determined to make a difference. The scientists and the clinicians from the three universities and the four trusts constitute a world-class team. We are committed to understand the causes of miscarriage and find ways to prevent it. Tommy's investment in the new Centre is the best thing that has happened to miscarriage research. It will change many lives.”

In the first five years Tommy’s commits to researching:

  • Genetic causes including a possible connection to damaged DNA in sperm
  • Role of bacteria in miscarriage – new understanding of the role of the oral, gut and vaginal microbiomes in shaping early pregnancy outcomes
  • Predicting the risk of miscarriage by developing sophisticated computerised risk prediction models that pull together clinical data from across the UK
  • Identifying the best ways to support women who have experienced miscarriage

Jane Brewin, Tommy’s Chief Executive said, “Medical science doesn’t fully understand miscarriage which is why funding and research is so critical. Through pioneering medical research, Tommy’s clinicians will save babies’ lives by turning their discoveries into screening tests and treatments and launch clinics for pregnant women who are most at risk, giving them the latest improvements in care. They’ll share their work in national clinical guidelines, preventing miscarriages and developing better care across the country.”

Miscarriage is by far the biggest cause of pregnancy loss in the UK, and it’s also the least understood by medical science and society which can sometimes refer to it ‘as one of those things’.  Miscarriage causes untold heartbreak. 250,000 mothers and their partners are affected every year with 85 per cent of miscarriages occurring within the first 12 weeks which is known as early miscarriage. Parents often receive no answers when it happens.Currently, the NHS only refers women for investigation after they’ve had three early miscarriages leaving parents to endure the physical and emotional trauma repeatedly before they become eligible for help. Tommy’s aims to halve the number of miscarriages by 2030 by funding medical research to understand the cause and effect of miscarriage.

Find out more on the Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research website. 

Notes to editors

For interviews with the University of Birmingham, please contact Luke Harrison, Media Relations Manager, University of Birmingham on +44 (0)121 414 5134. For out of hours media enquiries, please call: +44 (0) 7789 921 165

Tommy’s is registered charity no 1060508 and SC039280. Registered address Nicholas House, 3 Laurence Pountney Hill, London EC4R 0BB

For more information about Tommy’s, interviews and/or case studies please contact Hannah Blake on hannahmblake@gmail.com  or 07730 039 361

  • Tommy's funds research into pregnancy problems and provides information to parents. We believe it is unacceptable that one in four women lose a baby during pregnancy and birth
  • Seeking to understand the lived experiences of women who miscarry, Tommy’s recent #misCOURAGE campaign encouraged women to share their personal experiences of miscarriage. The resulting interest and massive engagement demonstrates the need for further understanding of the devastating psychological effect of miscarriage on women, their partners and loved ones. Our campaign reached 16m people, with 7m film views, 47k likes, 35k shares. Read more at www.tommys.org/miscourage
  • The Genesis Research Trust has donated £200,000 over two years towards the Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research Centre. Chaired by Professor Robert Winston, the Genesis Research Trust has funded the largest collection of UK scientists researching the causes and cures of women’s diseases. These include polycystic ovaries, infertility, stillbirth, miscarriage as well as premature birth, genetic disease, environmental influence before birth, stem-cell research and gynaecological cancers. Their scientists have an unrivalled reputation for making pioneering discoveries and advances which have become standardised medical practice in hospitals around the world, an example being the improvements in antenatal care and IVF. The trust has one of the largest doctoral and post-doctoral programmes in Europe. Uniquely, at least half of GRT’s senior scientists are female, and many go on to take up senior positions in universities all over the world. In recent years GRT scientists have made several major advances in detection and prevention of miscarriage. These include the first successful assessments of an embryo’s chromosomes; the discovery of a simple test which can determine when the womb lining does not develop correctly for pregnancy; and successful testing and treatment for women with ‘sticky blood’ which in some cases has taken live birth rates in women with recurrent miscarriage from 10% to 80%.