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Another project is investigating whether providing 17-hydroxyprogesterone caproate to women with a history of spontaneous preterm birth seen in the context of routine prenatal care will result in a significant reduction in the rate of preterm birth.


MOD receives between 800 and 900 letters of intent for requests for research funding. Of these, approximately 550 potential applicants are invited to apply for funding, and of those applications, 15 to 20 percent are funded (depending on the annual budget). The letters of intent are screened and selected by a committee.

Applications are reviewed in the traditional peer review system by study sections. All applications are for investigator-initiated grants. The applicants are approximately 40 percent M.D.’s and 60 percent Ph.D.’s. The proposals span a range of subjects, all of which must be relevant to birth defects and reproductive health. This translates into the support of research on genetics, developmental biology, and neurobiology. However, research of a more clinically directed nature that addresses, in particular, the problems of neonates and problems related to pregnancy is also supported. Among these are studies that relate to premature birth, including both its potential causes and its consequences. These grants are awarded for 3 years and may be renewed three times, based on reapplications that compete with other renewals and new proposals.

Research in social and behavioral sciences relating to the mission of MOD is also supported. Among these grants are included those that address such issues as the development of speech, hearing, vision, and intelligence, as well as social influences on health. These are also awarded for 3 years.

The Basil O’Connor grants are directed toward support of newly independent investigators who are just emerging from their training but who have a faculty appointment on a tenure line, or its equivalent. These awards currently have a fixed budget of $75,000 per year for 2 years.

The average annual award in 2005 for all grants comprising 410 projects, except the Basil O’Connor grants, was $83,000. In 1999, a special group of grants that considered the causes of prematurity was awarded. Those research studies needed to address external conditions but had to have biological plausibility, and they have been completed. Two of these generated successful research. A new initiative began in 2004 and offered six grants for research on causes of prematurity.

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