Miles Novy, M.D.

07/20/2009 - Miles Novy, M.D., observes that every decade since his arrival in Oregon in 1970, "has marked a very important step forward at OHSU in building the research mission. Now, as I look into the future, I see the next big opportunity to be a concerted effort to consolidate and transform this growth and the associated knowledge accumulation into new benefits for women’s health."

Miles Novy, MD

Dr. Novy holds a joint appointment as a Senior Scientist at the OHSU Oregon National Primate Research Center and as a Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology in the OHSU School of Medicine. He retired this year.

In a career that spanned both research and clinical worlds, early on, Dr. Novy embraced the idea of translational research. “My research was bi-directional,” said Dr. Novy. “Many of the lessons we learned from non-human primates were applied directly or indirectly to improvements in prenatal care while questions raised in clinical practice stimulated our research agenda.”

Dr. Novy’s work helped him and his team identify some of the underlying causes of premature birth and to identify and treat at-risk pregnancies with contraction-suppressing drugs and/or cervical cerclage procedures to prevent preterm birth. More recently, Dr. Novy’s work has focused on how hormones and the immune system interact in the onset of labor. A functional progesterone withdrawal is evident at term but uterine infections with genital mycoplasms are a common and potentially preventable cause of the earliest preterm births.

“We are seeing that infection/inflammation is a prevalent cause of prematurity before 28-30 weeks gestation and we are beginning to understand how the maternal and fetal immune systems interact.”

Together with Drs. Michael Gravett (Obstetrics & Gynecology) and Sri Nagalla (Pediatrics, Cell & Developmental Biology), Dr. Novy has shown that protein expression profiles in amniotic fluid have the unique signatures of an over-expression of certain polypeptides in women and animals with intra-amniotic infection (IAI). This infection type is commonly associated with preterm birth in humans. These protein expression signatures may have diagnostic applications in the early detection of IAI in women at risk. This work was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2004.

As he retires now from active research and lab work, Dr. Novy looks forward to a coordinated push from physicians and scientists toward translating accumulated knowledge into clinical applications. “Frankly, we have not made enough of a dent in the rate of prematurity in this country. But I believe we have the knowledge base to do so now.”