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Sanford Research among NIH grant recipients for national children's health program

Award will establish research sites in South Dakota

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – A National Institutes of Health program that will study effects of environmental exposures on child health and development is providing Sanford Research with a nearly $4.5 million grant to establish South Dakota-based sites for the project.

The NIH distributed $157 million in awards for fiscal year 2016 as part of a seven-year initiative called Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes, or ECHO. The program will investigate how exposure to a range of environmental factors in early development--from conception to early childhood--influences the health of children and adolescents.

As one of ECHO’s Pediatric Cohort sites, Sanford Research will follow a group of participants recruited for its Safe Passage Study, an existing project investigating the role of prenatal alcohol exposure in stillbirth and sudden infant death syndrome. The entire Pediatric Cohort has a goal of enrolling more than more than 50,000 children from diverse racial, geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Sanford Research is responsible for monitoring around 4,400 children from the Sioux Falls and Rapid City areas. Nine hundred of those participants will be recruited, while the remaining are already participating in the Safe Passage Study.  This study will be done in partnership with investigators from Columbia University and the University of Maryland.

Amy Elliott, Ph.D., is project’s principal investigator. She serves as senior director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Population Research at Sanford Research and is also the principal investigator for the Northern Plains Safe Passage Study clinical sites. 

“There are countless factors that can affect the health of our children,” said Elliott. “Not only will Sanford Research play a pivotal role in collecting future data, our work with the Safe Passage Study will provide ECHO with important existing data to analyze as part of the research.”

The diversity of awards, according to the NIH, will build the infrastructure and capacity for the ECHO program to support multiple, synergistic longitudinal studies that extend and expand existing cohort studies of mothers and their children. ECHO research will focus on factors that may influence health outcomes around the time of birth and into later childhood and adolescence, including upper and lower airway health and development, obesity, and brain and nervous system development. Each cohort will participate with the others to combine data that are collected in a standardized way across the consortium.

“Sanford Research is among a prestigious group of organizations chosen to collaborate on this national project,” said David Pearce, Ph.D., executive vice president of Sanford Research. “The infrastructure developed and maintained by Dr. Elliott and her team provides the NIH an incredible opportunity to gather meaningful data from children in this region.”

Research reported in this publication was supported by the Office Of The Director, National Institutes Of Health of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number UG3OD023279. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

About Sanford Research 
Sanford Research is a non-profit research organization and is part of Sanford Health, an integrated health system headquartered in the Dakotas. Sanford Health is one of the largest health systems in the nation with a presence in nine states and four countries. More than $600 million in gifts from Denny Sanford has provided for an expansion of research initiatives in type 1 diabetes, breast cancer and genomics in internal medicine.

With a team of more than 200 researchers, Sanford Research comprises several research centers, including Children’s Health Research, Edith Sanford Breast Center, Cancer Biology, Center for Health Outcomes and Prevention and Sanford Sports Science Institute.

Tim Gerszewski

Sanford Health Media Relations

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