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NIH Names 27 New Centers for National Children's Study; Recruiting Starts in January

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) - The National Institutes of Health on Friday kicked off the next phase of a long-term study of genes and the environment, which will study 100,000 children around the country, by naming 27 research centers that will receive funding in 2008.

The National Children’s Study will collect genetic and environmental data from children, from before they are born until age 21, from 105 locations around the country. The NCS will begin recruiting for its pilot study at the beginning of 2009, and will collect masses of information about genetic and environmental factors linked to a wide variety of diseases including autism, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, birth defects, diabetes, asthma, and obesity.

NIH has now named a total of 36 centers that will collect information from 72 locations, and eventually 40 centers will be involved. The study will be run by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and will include efforts and coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The study will involve recruiting pregnant women, or women who could become pregnant, from a range of ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, and follow the effects of genetic and environmental influences on their children.

“The advantage of a long-term study of development is that it will yield important health information at virtually every phase of the life cycle,” NIH Director Elias Zerhouni said in a statement. While it will eventually “provide greater understanding of adult disorders,” he said, in the near future “we expect it to provide insight into the disorders of birth and infancy.”

Calling the NCS a “representative sample” of US children, NICHD Director Duane Alexander explained that it will include children “from rural, urban, and suburban areas, from all income and educational levels, and from all racial groups.”

The centers NIH has named for 2008 support include: Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute; Baylor College of Medicine; Brown University; Emory University; Johns Hopkins University; Maine Medical Center; Michigan State University; Mount Sinai School of Medicine; Northwestern University; Saint Louis University School of Public Health; Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Center for Applied Environmental Public Health; University of Arizona; University of California, Irvine; University of California, Los Angeles; University of Colorado; University of Iowa; University of Louisville; University of Miami; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carolina Population Center; University of Texas health Science Center San Antonio; University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas; University of Utah School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics; Vanderbilt University Medical Center; and Yale University.

NIH did not immediately release the funding numbers for the individual NCS centers. Last year, the NCS study partners received a total of $69 million.

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