Murray receives March of Dimes grant for preterm birth research
Wednesday, March 06, 2013
University of Iowa pediatrician Jeff Murray, M.D., is one of five
researchers from four states investigating how genetics and infections
interact to cause preterm birth as well as how proteins and hormones
regulate a healthy pregnancy, all with the goal of giving more babies a
healthy start in life. The March of Dimes announced Tuesday, March 5,
2013, plans to fund the five studies.
Murray, a UI professor of neonatology and genetics, biological
sciences, epidemiology, and dentistry, has identified possible genes
involved in preterm birth with the support of a prior March of Dimes
grant. This new grant, $450,000 over three years, will allow him to
build on his past discoveries with the goal of improving health care
providers’ ability to predict which women are at high risk of delivering
their baby too soon. Working with Murray in the study are Kelli
Ryckman, Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology in the College of
Public Health, and Kristi Borowski, M.D., formerly a researcher at UI
Carver College of Medicine and now at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Nearly half a million babies – one out of every nine – are born too
soon each year in the United States. Preterm birth is a serious health
problem that costs the nation $26 billion annually. It is the leading
cause of neonatal death, and babies who survive an early birth have
increased risks of lung disease, cerebral palsy, and intellectual and
developmental disabilities, problems that can affect their health
throughout their lives.
In 2011, the US preterm birth rate dropped to 11.7, the lowest in a
decade, but still above the March of Dimes goal of lowering the national
rate to 9.6 percent. That goal can be achieved in part by applying
known strategies to prevent preterm birth, such as smoking cessation
programs, progesterone treatments, and reducing early elective
deliveries, the March of Dimes says. But the organization also believes
continued research is needed to yield new medical advances to meet the
The grants are awarded for three years and bring the March
of Dimes nine-year-old Prematurity Research Initiative (PRI) Grant
program’s total grant to nearly $24 million. The PRI program is one of
several March of Dimes grant programs available to researchers.
Other new grant recipients are:
- Louis Ragolia, Ph.D., director of Biomedical Research, Winthrop University Hospital, Mineola, NY.
- Indira U. Mysorekar, Ph.D., Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO.
- Francesco J. DeMayo, Ph.D., Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.
- Ruth Ann Word, M.D., University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas.
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for
pregnancy and baby health. For more information, visit marchofdimes.com
Story Source: UI Health Care Marketing and Communications, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room W319 GH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009