The Cyprus Society of Perinatal Medicine in conjunction with the March of Dimes Foundation, the University of Nicosia Medical School and the Makarios Hospital organised the 1st International Seminar of Perinatal Medicine titled ‘Challenges with Preterm Births’ which was held at the University of Nicosia on Sunday, 8th of March.  The event was an undoubted success, attended by more than 140 health professionals and scientists involved in the care of women and children as well as medical students from our School.  The seminar tackled the very significant global health burden of premature births and its scientific sessions outlined cutting edge research in the causes of prematurity. It was fascinating to hear how research teams working on diverse fields such as the uterine microbiome, placental transcriptome and mitochondrial genome take part in a major collaborative effort to address this major public health challenge. Cyprus has a very high rate of preterm births and the seminar and associated meetings could prove to be seminal events in the drive to reduce prematurity on the island.

Following the seminar, Dr Joe Leigh Simpson, Senior Vice President for Research and Global Programs of the March of Dimes Foundation, delivered the 1st University of Nicosia Medical School Annual Obstetrics & Gynaecology Lecture titled ‘Genomics and clinical practice: Evolving applications and the path to personalized medicine’. Dr Simpson is a leading authority in the field of Reproductive Genetics and he gave an inspiring account of how advances in Genomics can revolutionise the way human diseases are diagnosed and treated. One of the most intriguing aspects of recent advances in this field is the realisation that the observed heritability of many complex diseases cannot be explained on the basis of variation of gene sequences shifting the emphasis on the potential regulatory role of variability in the non-coding part of the human genome.