NIH Announces Plans for the ECHO Program

NIH has announced plans for the Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program

According to the announcement, after the closure of the National Children’s Study in fiscal year (FY) 2015, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, established a working group of NIH staff with expertise in the links between the environment and child health and development.


The working group sought input from the community through multiple mechanisms, including a Request for Information, roundtable meetings, webinars, and a feedback blog. Based on the feedback received, a new program for FY2016 ─ Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) ─ "will continue to leverage investments made in extant programs, while providing the flexibility to investigate key questions of interest at the intersection of environmental health and pediatric research," the announcement stated.

"NIH will support multiple synergistic, longitudinal studies using extant maternal/pediatric cohorts that represent a broad range of environmental exposures (e.g., physical, chemical, biological, behavioral, social). All longitudinal studies will collect a standardized, targeted set of data (Core Elements), such as demographics, normative development, patient/person reported outcomes (PRO), environmental exposures, and genetic influences."

The studies will focus on four key pediatric outcomes, or focus areas:

  • Upper and lower airway
  • Obesity
  • Pre-, peri-, and postnatal outcomes
  • Neurodevelopment

According to the announcement, "basic mechanistic studies that can only be done using human cohorts will be an important aspect of the ECHO program. An additional, but significant, element is an IDeA (Institutional Development Award) States Pediatric Clinical Trials Network. This network also will leverage the existing IDeA infrastructure by embedding clinical trials experts at IDeA state locations and facilitating their partnership with other academic institutions."

The NIH will explore a variety of options to support the development of relevant ECHO program components: cohort sites, a coordinating center, a data analysis center, a genetics core, a PRO core, and IDeA data coordination and operating center and research sites. Interested entities with expertise and insights into the four Focus Areas and Core Elements are encouraged to watch the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts for further information.

Notice Number: NOT-OD-16-015

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