The US National Institutes of Health is scuttling its National Children's Study, an observational project that aimed to follow some 100,000 children from birth to age 21. The NCS was commissioned by Congress in 2000, Nature notes, but has never moved beyond the pilot phase.
Nature adds that the study has been besieged by scientific disagreements and mismanagement. The pilot study found that the methods and models of the project just weren't workable and NIH Director Francis Collins described the project at an NIH advisory committee meeting as "a Christmas tree with every possible ornament placed upon it," Nature says.
In a statement, Collins notes that he'd placed the project on hold while an advisory committee looked into the next steps to take. That committee found that the study, as designed, was not realistic.
For instance, the University of Michigan's Marie Lynn Miranda, a member of the NIH Working Group, tells Nature that there wasn't a standard method for recruiting families into the projects, which would make the data difficult to interpret.
"Based on the working group's findings and internal deliberation, I am accepting the [advisory committee] findings that the NCS is not feasible," Collins says in a statement. "I am disappointed that this study failed to achieve its goals. Yet I am optimistic that other approaches will provide answers to these important research questions."