Wayne State to celebrate $166 million PRB contract, lecture by NICHD director and World Prematurity Day

November 11, 2013

In recognition of World Prematurity Day and a new 10-year, $166 million contract to support the Perinatology Research Branch (PRB) of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), Wayne State University will hold a celebration at 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15 in the Margherio Family Conference Center in the Mazurek Medical Education Commons, 320 E. Canfield.

Prior to the 3 p.m. celebration, a National Institutes of Health director will present the Distinguished President's Lecture on the topic "The Future of Biomedical Research: A View from the NICHD."

Dr. Alan Guttmacher, director of the NICHD in Washington, D.C., will speak from 1 to 2 p.m. in the Green Lecture Hall, located on the second floor of Scott Hall, 540 E. Canfield St., Detroit.

Guttmacher oversees the NICHD's activities as the NIH focal point for research in pediatric health and development, maternal health, reproductive health, intellectual and developmental disabilities, rehabilitation medicine, and other areas.

Guttmacher is a pediatrician and medical geneticist who joined the NIH in 1999 to work at the National Human Genome Research Institute, where he oversaw the institute's efforts to advance genome research; integrate that research into health care; and explore the ethical, legal and social implications of human genomics. His areas of expertise include the development of new approaches for translating genomics into better ways of diagnosing, treating and preventing disease.

World Prematurity Day is observed annually on Nov. 17. Approximately 15 million babies are born prematurely each year, accounting for more than one in 10 of all babies born worldwide.

The PRB contract, the largest in the university's history, was awarded in February after a competitive bidding process and ensures that the PRB will continue conducting critical perinatal and maternal-fetal medical research in Detroit through 2023.

The PRB was created by an act of Congress to address the problem of pregnancy complications, including the prevention of preterm birth and the diagnosis of congenital anomalies, preeclampsia, fetal growth restriction and other issues. The PRB ordinarily would be housed in Bethesda, Md., but the National Institutes of Health (NIH) wished to house the branch at an institution serving a region with a high rate of preterm birth.

 A 2010 study commissioned by WSU concluded that the cumulative economic impact associated with the PRB during a second 10-year contract will exceed $347 million. New earnings to Michigan residents over the life of the new contract are expected to total $143 million. The PRB employs more than 130 physicians, researchers and staff members -- many of them in desirable technology positions.

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering more than 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 28,000 students.