UT Health Science Center at Tyler to help oversee the National Children’s Study site of Lamar County, Texas

Friday, October 3, 2008

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, in partnership with The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, has been chosen to conduct the National Children’s Study in Lamar County, Texas.

The study, the largest of its kind in the United States, will examine the effects of environmental and genetic factors on child and adult health.

The national project will follow 100,000 children from before birth to age 21, tracking information on health issues such as asthma, birth defects, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

The study will receive more than $15 million in funding over the next five years to enable UTHSCT lead investigator Debra Cherry, MD, MS, and others to spearhead data-gathering and research efforts in Lamar County, home to Paris, Texas.

“We will spend two years doing behind-the-scenes work, building good relationships with the local medical providers and the community. We’ll need that much time to prepare to recruit 1,000 children from Lamar County over a four-year period. Actual recruitment won’t start until 2011,” said Dr. Cherry, an occupational and environmental medicine physician at UTHSCT.

She is also medical director of the Southwest Center for Pediatric Environmental Health, located on the UTHSCT campus.

Dr. Cherry and Dr. George Lister, principle investigator and chair of pediatrics of UT Southwestern, will lead the North Texas Children’s Study Coalition.

Other partners are The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health and Battelle Memorial Institute.

When fully operational, the study is expected to include from 36 to 50 study centers and 105 selected sites.

Study volunteers will be recruited from rural, urban, and suburban areas, from all income and educational levels, and from all racial groups.

“This is a powerful study because it will follow children from before birth until they are 21 years old. With such a long study and so much detailed information, we should be able to uncover the root causes of some of today’s most common childhood diseases such as asthma and obesity,” Dr. Cherry said.

UTHSCT will receive about $1.8 million over a five-year period to fund its contributions to the study.

Besides Dr. Cherry, other individuals on the UTHSCT campus involved in the Lamar County study are: Jeffrey Levin, MD, MSPH, chair of UTHSCT’s Department of Occupational Health Sciences; Helen Miner, Ph.D., RN, executive director of the Lake Country Area Health Education Center; Karen Gilmore, MPH, program director for the Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention, and Education; Matt Nonnenmann, Ph.D., UTHSCT assistant professor, Occupational Health Sciences; Teresa Walker and Penny Robinson, UTHSCT administrative assistants; and Scott Turner, UTHSCT information technology.

Also, members of the study’s scientific advisory board are Larry Lowry, Ph.D., professor of Occupational Health Sciences at UTHSCT; and Kari Casas, MD, an adjunct faculty member at UTHSCT and a Trinity Mother Frances Health System physician who specializes in genetics.

Authorized by Congress, the National Children’s Study is being conducted by a consortium of federal agencies: the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, both part of the National Institutes of Health; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

NOTICE: Protected health information is subject to electronic disclosure.