National Children's Study Project Awarded to MMCRI Investigators
The National Children's Study (NCS) is the largest study of its kind ever to be conducted in the United States. The study is designed to expand our knowledge of children's health and development forming the basis of child health guidance, interventions, and policy, both here in Maine and across the country for generations to come. The National Children's Study is led by a consortium of federal partners: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences , the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The goal of the study is to improve the health and well-being of children and contribute to our understanding of the role that various factors have on health and disease. The NCS will examine the effects of the environment, as broadly defined to include factors such as air, water, diet, sound, family dynamics, community and cultural influences, and genetics on the growth, development, and health of children across the United States, following them from before birth until the age of 21 years. Findings from the Study will be made available as the research progresses, making potential benefits known to the public as soon as possible.
As part of a pilot study, the Maine Study Center began recruiting families from selected areas of Cumberland County in December of 2010. Every home in eligible neighborhoods was visited to ensure that the study represents the diversity of Cumberland County families. To date, the Study Center has contacted over 16,000 homes with over 200 women and more than 50 babies joining the Study!
The Maine Study Center, in collaboration with a team of MMCRI investigators, has recently been awarded a $1.5 million NCS contract to develop real-time analysis protocols to test biological samples from NCS participants. The specific aims of this formative research project, awarded by the NCS are to: 1) determine the best processing and storage conditions for collected samples that will ensure the stability of biomarkers; and 2) to determine the instrumentation and test methodologies that should be used for biomarker testing that are the most accurate as well as most cost and time efficient. The award will be used for purchase of technologically advanced equipment and supplies capable of high throughput testing needed for the longitudinal NCS study. The MMCRI investigators involved in the pilot study are Calvin Vary, PhD, Director of the Protein & Nucleic Acid Core, Leif Oxburgh, PhD, Director of the Bioinformatics Core, and Anne Breggia, PhD, Director of the Clinical & Translational Research Laboratory Services.
According to Dr. Breggia, "The study is exciting as we are providing a model for how other NCS study centers throughout the country should handle the samples they collect, what biomarkers should be tested for and what testing methods should be used. In addition, the data we collect will be publishable but more importantly could be used as preliminary data for future NCS contract proposals and projects."
"The Maine Study Center is helping to test the feasibility of local laboratory analysis of important biological samples. Together with other study centers, we will help determine the optimal ways to gather reliable information for the study. " says John Bancroft, MD, Principal Investigator at the Maine Study Center.