The National Institutes of Health says it will award $46 million in research grants for the Human Placenta Project, which is designed to improve understanding of the placenta.
The awards will be targeted to fund technology funding for placental function development and testing.
NIH's goal is to improve overall health and pregnancy outcomes.
"As essential as it is, there's still so much we don't know about the placenta," Dr. Catherine Spong, the deputy director of NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said in a news release.
"The good news is that science has advanced to such a degree that we have a better opportunity than ever before to learn how the placenta works. That knowledge may one day help improve clinical care," she said.
NIH already has awarded 19 projects worth $46 million this fiscal year under the initiative.