News Release

Friday, December 14, 2007

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

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 information:

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): 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. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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