Timeline: 1990-1999

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The NIH Amendments of 1990 (Public Law 101-613) establish the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR) within the NICHD to conduct and support programs for the rehabilitation, health, and well-being of individuals with physical disabilities resulting from birth defects and diseases.

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Steven Warren, Ph.D.NICHD-supported researcher Steven Warren, Ph.D., identifies the cause of Fragile X syndrome, the leading cause of inherited mental retardation, as a mutation in the Fragile X Mental Retardation 1 (FMR1) gene found on the X chromosome. Dr. Warren’s efforts also reveal that the mutation is an entirely new inheritance mechanism, called a “triplet repeat,” which gets larger in each generation and, when large enough, disrupts gene function to cause the symptoms of Fragile X.

The NICHD expands its Epidemiology and Biometry Research Program to create the Division of Epidemiology, Statistics, and Prevention Research (DESPR), part of its intramural research component. DESPR’s portfolio includes research in the fields of reproduction and maternal and child health.

The NICHD and 10 research universities around the United States initiate the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (SECCYD) to answer questions about child care and its effects on child development.

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Gary S. Becker, Ph.D.Gary S. Becker, Ph.D., supported by the NICHD, wins the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for having extended the domain of microeconomic analysis to a wide range of human behavior and interaction, including nonmarket behavior.

Robert Cooke, M.D.Robert Cooke, M.D., who played a pivotal role in the founding of the NICHD, receives the Surgeon General’s Medallion, in part for his scientific and societal contributions to benefit children, especially those with special needs.

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The NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 (Public Law 103-43) mandates establishment of an intramural laboratory and clinical research program on obstetrics and gynecology within the NICHD. The Act also directs the NICHD to establish contraception and infertility research centers to address important research questions within these areas.

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Back to Sleep Campaign logoThe NICHD, in collaboration with public and private partners, launches the Back to Sleep campaign, a program designed to teach parents and caregivers the importance of putting babies on their backs to sleep to help reduce the risk of SIDS. Since the start of the campaign, the overall SIDS rate has dropped more than 50 percent.

In response to the need for appropriate drug therapy for pediatric patients, the NICHD establishes the Pediatric Pharmacology Research Unit Network. The Network’s mission is to facilitate and promote pediatric labeling of new drugs or drugs already on the market to ensure the safe and effective use of drugs in children.

Studies from the Pediatric AIDS Clinical Trial Group, funded by the NICHD and the NIAID, find that a specific regimen of zidovudine (AZT) given to an HIV-infected woman during pregnancy and delivery, as well as to her infant for 6 weeks after birth, reduces HIV transmission from 25 percent to 8 percent.

The NICHD and a consortium of 17 other institutions and federal agencies initiate the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), following an ethnically, socially, and economically diverse population of adolescents to assess the behaviors and characteristics that promote good health. By its 10th year, the Add Health Study has been the topic of more than 220 published articles.

William Gahl, M.D., Ph.D.The FDA approves cysteamine bitartrate for the treatment of cystinosis, a rare genetic inborn error of metabolism that can cause kidney failure and neurological damage. The approval is due in large part to the efforts of NICHD intramural researcher William Gahl, M.D., Ph.D., who demonstrated the drug’s effectiveness and brought it to market as an orphan drug. Taking the drug regularly completely prevents any manifestations of the condition.

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The NICHD launches the Milk Matters calcium education campaign, designed to educate children, teens, parents, educators, and health professionals about the importance of getting enough calcium during the childhood and teenage years to help prevent osteoporosis and fragile bones in adulthood.

The NICHD announces the start of a 5-year, $27 million international collaborative network to study autism, with additional support from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. The Network on the Neurobiology and Genetics of Autism, which comprises 10 Collaborative Programs of Excellence in Autism, seeks to solve the puzzle of autism through research. Also participating in this endeavor are the NIH Office of the Director and the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

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Using sophisticated brain imaging technology, NICHD-funded researchers identify the brain regions underlying dyslexia. This finding may provide the basis for screening techniques that will help identify dyslexia, allowing treatment to start earlier in a person’s development.

In the largest, most comprehensive analysis of its kind, NICHD-funded researchers find that pregnant women who are infected with HIV can reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to their infants by about 50 percent if they deliver by elective cesarean section before they have gone into labor and before their membranes have ruptured.

The FDA approves an NICHD-developed DTaP (diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis) vaccine for use in immunization against these diseases.

Researchers led by NICHD grantee Ryuzo Yanagimachi, D.Sc., successfully clone five generations of female mice, making it possible for scientists to reliably produce genetically identical animals.

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The NICHD’s National Cooperative Reproductive Medicine Network identifies the most effective series of infertility treatments to provide infertile couples with a basis for choosing the treatments that have the best chance of working for them. The Network’s rigorous evaluation provides invaluable information for those who need it most and will help to ensure the safety of those participating in the treatments.

NICHD-funded researchers announce the discovery of the gene for Rett syndrome, a disorder in which healthy infant girls gradually lose their language capabilities, mental functioning, and ability to interact with others. The finding has immediate implications for both the development of a test to diagnose the disorder before or at birth as well as new strategies to prevent the debilitating effects of the disease.

SIDS brochure for African American outreachThe NICHD and the National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI) initiate a partnership to develop a SIDS African American Outreach Initiative within the Back to Sleep campaign. The NICHD and the NBCDI join forces with several African American organizations, including the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, the Women in the NAACP, and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., to develop focused, appropriate, and community-centered information to help reduce the risk of SIDS.

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