File Photo/Nevada Sagebrush
The UNR School of Medicine sign as it stands on February 20. The school has just received a $2 million research grant.

As the University of Nevada, Reno medical school expands in size, so does the breadth of their research.

The university’s medical school received a two million dollar grant to research a new drug that would help prevent preterm childbirth by delaying a woman’s pregnancy without harsh side effects. The grant was from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development was founded in 1962 to investigate human development, with a focus in disabilities and other events that occur during pregnancy. Their goal is to have every person born healthy and wanted. Somethings they have studied include: Haemophilus influenzae type B, Phenylketonuria and Congenital hypothyroidism

The World Health Organization describes the term preterm births as babies born before the 37th week in a mother’s pregnancy. In 2016, PeriStats conducted a study that found Nevada to have 10.4 percent of births in the state be considered to be preterm. PeriStats also found conditions have “worsened” in Washoe County by 10.1 percent, and African-Americans are more at risk of preterm births.

“In Nevada, the preterm birth rate among black women is 46 percent higher than the rate among all other women,” said PeriStats.

Babies that are born before term often face complications. Some of these complications includes: immature lungs, difficulty regulating body temperature, poor feeding and slow weight gain.

The expansion of research made possible by the grant is not the only expansion the medical school has seen in the past year. The school introduced several new programs this year, including their new Physician Assistant Studies Program in July and their surgical program in February.

The Physician Assistant Studies program is a partner with Renown Health and will allow students to obtain a master’s in just 25 months. The program includes, clinical and academic courses, clinical skills training and supervised clinical practice, and the ability to be able to diagnose and conduct physical exams.

The program was deemed necessary by the medical school and since added after Nevada became ranked 48th for available physician assistants. Prior to the program at the university’s medical school, the closest certification was in Sacramento.

The medical school introduced its surgical program in February, allowing students hand-on experience in a surgery setting to allow them to determine if they wanted to pursue surgical medicine.

The program welcomes all third-year students and has proven to be a match to student’s interests, as nearly 20 percent of graduating medical students have matched to a surgical residency.

Taylor Johnson can be reached at or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.