University of Louisville researchers will take part in the largest government-funded, long-term study of environmental and genetic effects on children’s health to be conducted in the United States. The National Institutes of Health announced that UofL will receive a grant of $13.1 million over the next five years as a site in the National Children’s Study. The study will follow 100,000 children from before birth to age 21, with the goal of understanding how genes and environment interact to affect their health and development.
The National Children’s Study has the potential to address multiple issues, ranging from how exposure to allergens affect the later development of asthma to the causes of obesity and the impact of infections on developmental progress, said Deborah Davis, an associate professor of pediatrics and one of two UofL principal investigators. “This is particularly important for children in Kentucky, where we have higher than average rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes and more children born with low birth weight.”
The program “has the potential to be as important as the human genome project in our understanding of health and disease,” said David Tollerud, co-principal investigator, associate professor of pediatrics and professor of public health, medicine and pharmacology and toxicology.