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Faculty & Staff Honors

Colorado Awarded $15 Million for Research on Environmental Influences on Child Health

The Colorado School of Public Health (ColoradoSPH) has been awarded $1.2 million this year to contribute to an National Institutes of Health-funded initiative Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO). The award is part of a planned seven-year grant with an estimated total value of $15 million for the Colorado participation.

The ECHO program will investigate how exposure to a range of environmental factors in early development — from conception through early childhood — influences the health of children and adolescents. It is part of a $150 million NIH effort announced on Sept. 21.

The Colorado study will leverage an existing and ongoing pre-birth cohort in Colorado, Healthy Start, which has recruited and is currently following 1,410 mother-child pairs. It represents a large collaborative effort among investigators at the Colorado School of Public Health at CU Anschutz and CSU, and the CU School of Medicine’s departments of pediatrics and medicine. The overarching goal of the Colorado study is to determine the early life “exposome,” or the entirety of human environmental exposures, across a wide range (social, lifestyle, nutritional, chemical, physical). It also aims to conduct integrative analyses with child health outcomes that are informed by biological pathways and account for postnatal factors.

“By continuing to longitudinally follow up the Colorado Healthy Start cohort and collaborating with the larger ECHO consortium we will be able to expand the scope of our work, by refining and incorporating additional components of the exposome, exploring changes in the composition and impact of the exposome over time, targeting additional childhood outcomes, and participating in large gene-environment interaction studies,” said Dr. Dana Dabelea, professor of epidemiology and pediatrics, director of the LifeCourse Epidemiology of Adiposity and Diabetes (LEAD) Center at ColoradoSPH, and principal investigator of the Colorado ECHO project. “It is our hope that this study will advance the scientific understanding of early life contributors to child health outcomes, and build a foundation for the development and evaluation of future prevention efforts.

Dr. Sheryl Magzamen, an assistant professor of epidemiology at ColoradoSPH and in CSU’s Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences, will lead the measurement and evaluation of indoor and outdoor pollutants that the Healthy Start participants are exposed to.

“Every baby should have the best opportunity to remain healthy and thrive throughout childhood,” said NIH Director Francis Collins. “ECHO will help us better understand the factors that contribute to optimal health in children.”

You can read the full story here.