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INOVA Receives Grant to Study Environmental Influences on Child Health

Monday, October 3, 2016  
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The Inova Translational Medicine Institute (ITMI) has been awarded a $9.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study environmental influences on child health. The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York City is the primary recipient of the consortium award. John Niederhuber, MD, CEO, ITMI, is principle investigator for the ECHO sub-award to ITMI.

This grant is part of a series of awards launching a seven-year research initiative titled the Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO). These awards, given to a variety of centers across the country, including ITMI, will investigate how exposure to environmental factors and maternal behavior – from pre-conception, through gestation and early childhood – impact health and development of babies through early childhood and into adolescent years. The ECHO environmental studies will include exposures to air pollution, chemicals in homes, neighborhoods and work places, stress, and individual behaviors such as sleep and diet, and relate these factors to genomic changes and clinical outcomes in the newborn.

The ECHO program will help support and greatly expand the utilization of a number of synergistic existing childhood longitudinal cohort studies at different sites, including ITMI's Childhood Longitudinal Cohort Study, which began accrual in July 2012.

"I am extremely excited to be part of this national effort to better understand how we as individuals, the life choices we make, and our environment impact our development as newborns and our future wellness," said Dr. Niederhuber. "This was my vision when I came to Inova and initiated the Childhood Longitudinal Cohort. If you want to understand behavior, neurologic development and the earliest stages of progression toward disease, then you must start at the beginning."

Dr. Niederhuber has led the ongoing collaborations with the Mount Sinai team since 2014 and serves as the Principle Investigator for the ECHO sub-award to ITMI. Other partners in the Mt. Sinai consortium ECHO award include Harvard, Ben Gurion University, Columbia University, the University of North Carolina and Northwestern University. Of this group, ITMI has the largest cohort of families and newborns being actively followed, with over 3000 families enrolled over the past four years. The grant award greatly expands the research efforts of the existing ITMI cohort.

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