BWH has been named one of 35 academic medical centers and universities to receive an award from the National Institutes of Health as part of a seven-year initiative called Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO). The ECHO program will investigate how exposure to a range of environmental factors in early development – from conception through early childhood – influences the health of children and adolescents. All of the 35 institutions selected are currently running long-term pediatric studies. The program will award a total of $157 million in fiscal year 2016.
Raina Nakova Fichorova, MD, PhD, director of BWH's Laboratory of Genital Tract Biology in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, will serve as one of the principal investigators for the implementation of the ECHO program at BWH.
The ECHO program aims to enroll more than 50,000 children from diverse racial, geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Researchers across all ECHO consortia will analyze and share data and follow the children’s development over time. Researchers will also collaborate with other organizations in the ECHO consortia to combine data in a standardized way.
Fichorova’s lab will study inflammation in approximately 2,000 mother-infant pairs with a Michigan state consortium that aims to examine the perinatal period and child development more broadly by measuring environmental contaminants, nutritional factors and neurodevelopment in the context of viral infections, social and psychological environment. The consortium will also examine the infant gut microbiome to determine any links between nutritional factors and both pregnancy inflammation and adverse child health outcomes.
The NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments and cures for both common and rare diseases.