James Gern, MD, Leads $15 Million Grant to Study How Environmental Exposures Affect Childhood Asthma

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health a two-year, $15 million grant to establish and oversee the Children’s Respiratory Research and Environment Workgroup (CREW) – a national consortium of 14 institutions that will study how genetics interact with environmental exposures during the prenatal and early childhood years to cause specific subtypes of childhood asthma.

The grant is part of $157 million in awards by the NIH that launches a seven-year initiative called Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO). 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.

“Studies of children from single research centers have taught us that the environment during the prenatal period and in infancy greatly influences who develops asthma,” said James Gern, MD, principal investigator of the study. “The CREW study and the overall ECHO program will for the first time enable information from multiple studies to be combined so that U.S. investigators working together can identify causes and develop new strategies to prevent severe childhood asthma.”