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UMASS Medical School awarded National Children's Study contract

WORCESTER, Mass.The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) announced today that the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) was awarded a competitive contract to participate in the landmark National Childrens Study (NCS), the largest study to be conducted in the United States to assess the effects of environmental and genetic factors on child and human health. The study will follow 100,000 children from before birth to age 21, seeking information to prevent and treat some of the nations most pressing health problems, including autism, birth defects, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

This is a watershed moment for UMass Medical School as the Commonwealths research institution, said Terry R. Flotte, MD, executive deputy chancellor of UMMS and dean of the School of Medicine. We have long held public health as our passion and our obligation, and we are exceptionally proud to be chosen as one of a select few to make such an important contribution to the body of knowledge related to child health and development. This contract award is a testament to the Medical Schools demonstrated ability to conduct exceptional public health and epidemiological research and our capacity to engage the community in this study.

UMMS is uniquely positioned to accept this charge from the NICHD in part because of the partnerships we have established throughout the community and the trust we have earned over decades of caring for families and children, said Marianne E. Felice, MD, chair of pediatrics for UMMS and physician-in-chief of UMass Memorial Childrens Medical Center. Felice is the principal investigator of the UMMS arm of the NCS, which will be known as the Massachusetts Childrens Health Indicators and Life Determinants study (MassCHILD). Many of our faculty are already recognized in the community for the important public health research they have conducted, and we believe parents will work enthusiastically with us on this study. Were delighted that families of Worcester County will be able to contribute to the health of the nation for generations to come. Furthermore, by being participants in this prestigious study, we may be able to identify solutions to issues of childrens health that are important to us in this area, such as infant mortality.

UMMS is one of 22 new study centers of the NCS, which began in response to the Childrens Health Act of 2000, when Congress directed the NICHD and other federal agencies to undertake a national, long-term study of childrens health and development in relation to environmental exposures. Through the NCS, contracted centers will collect a broad range of biological and environmental samples and data to generate a comprehensive database of material that will provide researchers, health care providers and public health officials with information from which to develop preventive strategies and health and safety guidelines. Data will be collected in 105 specific previously designated counties in the U.S. There are only two counties in Massachusetts that qualify for the NCS Worcester and Bristol countiesbut the current funding is only designated for Worcester County. The 105 counties were selected through a national probability sample that took into account factors such as race and ethnicity, income, education level, number of births, and number of births of low birth weight babies, and together are representative of the entire U.S. population.

The Medical Schools contract represents more than $16 million for the first five-year phase, during which UMMS will begin recruiting and training the equivalent of 88 full-time staff and working with community leaders in preparation for opening enrollment into the study in the summer of 2009. Funding for the 22 study centers and the studys initial phase is a result of a $69 million appropriation from Congress in fiscal year 2007. Funding is expected to increase for subsequent phases over the life of the study. Additional contracts are to be awarded at a later date, but will probably total no more than 35 to 40 centers to collect data from all 105 counties. UMMS will work with faculty from Clark University for their expertise in geographic information systems, which will be instrumental in household selection for the survey. Each study site, or county, is expected to enroll 1,000 participants in four years, which will likely require identification of more than 13,000 households in which there may be pregnant women in the first trimester of pregnancy or women who could become pregnant in the next year. In fact, 25 percent of the children are to be identified before they are even conceived.

Additional UMMS faculty serving as co-investigators on the MassCHILD team are Thomas McLauglin, ScD (Co-Principal Investigator); Onesky Aupont, MD, PhD (Operations Manager and Co-Investigator); Katherine Luzuriaga, MD (Co-Investigator); Janet Hardy, PhD (Co-Investigator); Tiffany Moore-Simas, MD, MPH (Co-Investigator); and Judith Ockene, PhD, MEd, MA (Co-Investigator).

In addition to UMMS, 21 other study centers were named today, representing 25 other study locations: Brown University (Providence, R.I.); Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia (Schuylkill, Pa., and New Castle, Del.); Emory University (DeKalb and Fayette Counties, Ga.); Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Md.); Michigan State University (Wayne County, Mich.); Mount Sinai School of Medicine (Nassau County, N.Y.); Northwestern University (Cook County, Ill.); St. Louis University (Macoupin County, Ill., and St. Louis, Mo.); University of California, Davis (Sacramento County, Calif.); University of California, Irvine (San Diego County, Calif.); University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles County, Calif.); University of Hawaii at Manoa (Honolulu County, Hawaii); University of Minnesota (Ramsey County, Minn.); University of Mississippi (Hinds County, Miss.); University of New Mexico (Valencia County, N.M.); University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Rockingham County, N.C.); University of Pittsburgh (Marion County, W.Va., and Westmoreland County, Pa.); University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (Bexar County, Texas); University of Utah (Cache County, Utah); University of Washington (King County, Wash.); and Yale University (New Haven County, Conn.).


Contact: Alison Duffy
University of Massachusetts Medical School

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