National Institutes of Health (NIH)
October 21, 2015
Following the closure of the National Children’s Study in fiscal year (FY) 2015, Dr. Francis Collins, the NIH Director, emphasized the importance of and need for research addressing the links between the environment and child health and development. A working group of NIH staff with expertise in these areas was established, and sought input from the community through multiple mechanisms, including a Request for Information, roundtable meetings, webinars, and a feedback blog. Informed by the feedback received, the new program for FY 2016 - Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) - continues to leverage investments made in extant programs, while providing the flexibility to investigate key questions of interest at the intersection of environmental health and pediatric research. NIH will support multiple synergistic, longitudinal studies using extant maternal/pediatric cohorts that represent a broad range of environmental exposures (e.g., physical, chemical, biological, behavioral, social). All longitudinal studies will collect a standardized, targeted set of data (Core Elements), such as demographics, normative development, patient/person reported outcomes (PRO), environmental exposures, and genetic influences. The studies will focus on four key pediatric outcomes (Focus Areas) – upper and lower airway; obesity; pre-, peri-, and postnatal outcomes; and neurodevelopment. Basic mechanistic studies that can only be done using human cohorts will be an important aspect of the ECHO program. An additional, but significant, element is an IDeA States Pediatric Clinical Trials Network. This network also will leverage the existing IDeA infrastructure by embedding clinical trials experts at IDeA state locations and facilitating their partnership with other academic institutions.