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September 21, 2016

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Awarded $95 Million NIH Grant

Award part of major study on environmental influences on child health

The National Institutes of Health today announced that the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, along with the research firm RTI International, will receive a seven-year, $95 million grant to analyze the data from its new Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program, an initiative designed to understand how the environment influences health beginning in the womb.

Poised to be the premier study of child health, the ECHO program will capitalize on existing groups, or cohorts, of more than 50,000 children from across the United States to initially focus on four areas: obesity; airway conditions such as asthma and allergies; neurodevelopment, including diseases such as autism; and prenatal and postnatal outcomes, such as birth defects.

As ECHO’s Data Analysis Center, the Bloomberg School will lead the data analysis for ECHO, while RTI will lead the data management. The grant – which will be $5 million in the first year – is part of $157 million in 2016 awards to many institutions announced today.

“Everything around us may affect the health of children,” says Lisa Jacobson, ScD, a professor of epidemiology at the Bloomberg School who will lead the Center. “By understanding the impact of environmental exposures that occur during pregnancy through early childhood as well as how they interact with societal factors, behavior and genetics, we can better understand what factors promote a healthy childhood and adolescence.”

Experiences during sensitive developmental windows, including around the time of conception, later in pregnancy, and during infancy and early childhood, can have long-lasting effects on the health of children. These experiences encompass a broad range of exposures, from air pollution and chemicals in our neighborhoods, to societal factors such as stress, to individual behaviors like sleep and diet.

The grant comes on the heels of the announcement last week of a $300 million gift to the Bloomberg School from businessman and former three-term mayor of New York City Michael R. Bloomberg’s Bloomberg Philanthropies. The gift will fund the Bloomberg American Health Initiative, designed to help set the nation’s domestic public health agenda and will focus on five areas: addiction and overdose, risks to adolescent health, environmental challenges, obesity and the food system, and violence.

“This new grant from the National Institutes of Health dovetails perfectly with the work we are doing to develop innovative solutions to the health threats facing the United States in the 21st century,” says Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH ’87, dean of the Bloomberg School. “We are proud to be able to use our expertise in using data-driven approaches to analyzing large public health problems to help investigate how exposure to a range of environmental factors in early development influences the health of children and adolescents.”

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Media contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Stephanie Desmon at 410-955-7619 or sdesmon1@jhu.edu and Barbara Benham 410-614-6029 or bbenham1@jhu.edu.