|Statement by Dr. Norka Ruiz Bravo, Deputy Director
for Extramural Research, National Institutes of Health
Dr. Miles Novy, a well known and respected researcher who has
devoted most of his life to the study of pregnancy, was recently
targeted for property damage by domestic terrorists. Terrorist
acts are absolutely intolerable.
Dr. Novy's research on what controls both normal and preterm labor
in childbirth, a crucial aspect of human development, has been
supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
for over 33 years. This support includes a MERIT Award for exceptional
research. Although the process of labor is better known in species
such as the sheep and rodent, what controls the initiation of labor
in the human is still unclear. To better understand what occurs
in the human, Dr. Novy's research uses monkeys, an animal model
closer to that of the human.
Dr. Novy's research is fundamentally important to help prevent
early preterm delivery that can result in devastating effects on
newborn children and their quality of life in later years. His
current research involves preventing one of the major causes of
premature birth: infections associated with preterm labor. The
importance of this research cannot be underestimated. Premature
birth is a serious public health problem. Approximately 12% of
all babies are born premature with 2 % of all babies, or approximately
100,000 babies, being born very premature. Regrettably, these very
premature babies are associated with the highest mortality and
morbidity rates. Ten percent of these babies will die. Fifteen
percent of these babies with have serious permanent disabilities
such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation, deafness or blindness.
Fifty percent of these infants will have a moderate learning disability
and 7 % with have a behavioral problem. Besides its human toll,
the financial toll for total hospital stays for premature infants
is about $15 billion dollars per year and represents approximately
half of all infant hospital stays. Furthermore, the economic burden
does not end after hospital discharge for those with a disability.
NIH-supported scientists like Dr. Novy are accountable for protecting
the welfare of animals in research from the time they develop their
first research plans to the time the research is completed. Animals
are critical to the acceleration of biomedical discovery of medicines,
therapies, and cures — threats to research with animals threaten
the health of the nation.
The Office of the Director, the central office at NIH, is responsible
for setting policy for NIH, which includes 27 Institutes and Centers.
This involves planning, managing, and coordinating the programs
and activities of all NIH components. The Office of the Director
also includes program offices which are responsible for stimulating
specific areas of research throughout NIH. Additional information
is available at http://www.nih.gov/icd/od/.
The Office of Extramural Research serves as the focal point for
policies and guidelines for extramural research grants administration.
This office has primary responsibility for the development and
implementation of NIH Grants Policy, including peer review, monitoring
of compliance with Public Health Service policy on Humane Use and
Care of Laboratory Animals, coordination of program guidelines,
and development and maintenance of the information systems for
grants administration. Please visit its Web site for additional
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's
Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and
Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting
and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research,
and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both
common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and
its programs, visit www.nih.gov.