Close up of infants sleeping face
Close up of infants sleeping face

Inova Translational Medicine Institute (ITMI) has been awarded $9.5 million from NIH to study environmental influences on the health of children. The research initiative, called the Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO), will have John Niederhuber, M.D., CEO, Inova as it principal investigator. The primary recipient of the consortium award is the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center.

“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. “If you want to understand behavior, neurologic development and the earliest stages of progression toward disease, then you must start at the beginning.”

ECHO is a seven-year research project funded by a series of awards from NIH for centers across the country that 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. It will then relate these factors to genomic changes and clinical outcomes in newborn children.

Other partners in the Mount 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 3,000 families enrolled over the past four years. The grant award greatly expands the research efforts of the existing ITMI cohort.

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