New Biorepository Opens in Seattle to Help Uncover Mysteries of Pregnancy and Childbirth

GAPPS Repository

Rare combination of pregnancy specimens and data now available to scientists working to improve maternal, newborn, and child health worldwide

The Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth (GAPPS), an initiative of Seattle Children’s, has launched an internationally accessible biorepository to advance innovative research of both normal and abnormal pregnancies, including how pregnancy affects maternal and child health after delivery. Named the GAPPS Repository, it is the only collection of specimens linked to detailed information from pregnant women that is available to a wide range of researchers.

High quality specimens such as maternal blood and urine, cervical vaginal swabs, placenta tissue, and cord blood, are collected from the first trimester through the postpartum period. The specimens are paired with information about the mothers’ preconception, current pregnancy, environmental exposures, medical and reproductive history, mental health, nutritional intake, and behaviors.

“While pregnancy specimen biobanks have been developed before, this is the first time that specimens paired with information about mothers and their pregnancies have been made widely accessible,” said Craig Rubens, MD, PhD, executive director of GAPPS. “The GAPPS Repository provides a critical resource for maternal and child health researchers to study multiple factors at different points throughout pregnancy.”

The GAPPS Repository was created to:

  • Help researchers discover biomarkers and create screening tools to identify women and babies at risk for preterm birth and stillbirth
  • Translate scientific discoveries into promising diagnostic, treatment and prevention strategies
  • Conduct studies focused on poor birth outcomes and the fetal origin of adult diseases, with the potential for determining causes and developing cures for both acute and chronic diseases

“Many adult health problems can be traced to fetal development,” Dr. Rubens said. “With these specimens, researchers can begin to understand what causes adverse pregnancy outcomes, and develop novel interventions to prevent them.”

The GAPPS Repository currently has more than 8,000 individual specimens available to scientists, with 800-900 specimens being added each month. The collection includes contributions from women representing a range of racial, ethnic, regional, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

GAPPS Repository lab scientists oversee each step in the sample collection and storage process in order to build and maintain the highest quality specimen bank. In addition, GAPPS upholds strict standards ofprivacy and confidentiality, with materials identified only by number and participant names kept in protected files at each collection site.

“My first pregnancy resulted in a premature birth, and when I heard about the GAPPS Repository during my second pregnancy, I wanted to help advance the pregnancy and childbirth research that is happening,” said Leslie Tuomisto, a GAPPS Repository donor. “Donating took very little effort; it was just providing samples that were already being taken anyway.”

High-resolution photos of the GAPPS Repository and more can be found here:


The Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth (GAPPS), an initiative of Seattle Children’s, leads a collaborative, global effort to increase awareness and accelerate innovative research and interventions that will improve maternal, newborn and child health outcomes around the world.

About Seattle Children’s

Seattle Children’s mission is to provide hope, care and cures to help every child live the healthiest and most fulfilling life possible. Together, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Research Institute and Foundation deliver superior patient care, identify new discoveries and treatments through pediatric research, and raise funds to create better futures for patients.

Ranked as one of the top children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s serves as the pediatric and adolescent academic medical center for Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho – the largest region of any children’s hospital in the country. As one of the nation’s top five pediatric research centers, Seattle Children’s Research Institute is internationally recognized for its work in neurosciences, immunology, cancer, infectious disease, injury prevention and much more. Seattle Children’s Hospital and Research Foundation works with the Seattle Children’s Guild Association, the largest all-volunteer fundraising network for any hospital in the country, to gather community support and raise funds for uncompensated care and research. Join Seattle Children’s bold initiative – It Starts With Yes: The Campaign for Seattle Children’s – to transform children’s health for generations to come.

For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or on our On the Pulse blog.