The Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI) has been named the coordinating center as part of a $157-million federal initiative involved in studying how environmental factors affect childhood health.
The grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will fund the organizational framework of the Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) initiative. The DCRI has been awarded $14.7 million in fiscal year 2016. This award is a seven-year grant with a total value of $119 million.
As the coordinating center for the research initiative, the DCRI will provide support to the [ECHO] study’s steering committee, lead site training for participating research teams, develop common rules and standard procedures, monitor quality controls, and establish and maintain websites and other communications tools.
The ECHO coordinating center at DCRI will also include an Opportunities and Infrastructure Fund to support pilot projects, encourage development of junior investigators, and introduce new tools and technologies in the context of the ECHO program.
“We are certainly honored to be selected as the coordinating center for this important research initiative at the NIH,” said principal investigator Brian Smith, MD, a Duke neonatologist and faculty member of the DCRI. “This builds on a number of our strengths in clinical research, notably in pediatric clinical research, where we have developed specific expertise.”
The awards will build the infrastructure and capacity for the ECHO program to support multiple longitudinal studies that extend and expand existing studies of mothers and their children. ECHO research will focus on factors that may influence health outcomes around the time of birth as well as into later childhood and adolescence, including:
- airway diseases such as allergies and asthma
- obesity and nutrition
- pregnancy and child birth
- brain and behavioral development
“Every baby should have the best opportunity to remain healthy and thrive throughout childhood,” NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, said in an NIH statement announcing the grants. “ECHO will help us better understand the factors that contribute to optimal health in children.”