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December 7, 2015
Launching the Next Phase of NIH Research on Environmental Exposures on Child Health and Development
I am pleased to announce that today, through a series of funding opportunity announcements (FOAs), NIH has officially launched a multi-year initiative to improve our understanding of how environmental exposures affect children’s health and development. Called the Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program, this effort is consistent with the goals of the former National Children’s Study, but uses a different approach. Instead of a single longitudinal study, ECHO will support multiple, synergistic, longitudinal studies tapping into well-established and expanding clinical research networks to determine the effects of environmental exposures on four key pediatric outcomes: upper and lower airway; obesity; pre-, peri-, and postnatal outcomes; and neurodevelopment. This approach was developed by an NIH working group with representatives from 16 NIH Institutes and Centers and co-led by Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D., NIH Principal Deputy Director, and Janine A. Clayton, M.D., Director of the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health. The Working Group considered the recommendations of two key reports, one by the National Academies of Sciences and another by my Advisory Committee to the Director, and significant community input through stakeholder roundtables, a request for information, and other feedback vehicles. Through the FOAs, ECHO is soliciting the most innovative ideas that capitalize on emerging scientific capabilities and technological advances. Importantly, the research proposed will have to be flexible as these capabilities continue to evolve. Efforts of the ECHO program will be supported by and build on recent awards NIH made in September. Dr. Tabak will continue to lead the program as we work to appoint a permanent program director for which a nationwide search has been launched. I’m truly excited about the opportunities this research will provide in illuminating the determinants of child health and the resulting impact on adult health.
Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, National Institutes of Health