National Children’s Study kicked off drive to recruit participants at event Thursday in Paris, Texas

Friday, February 11, 2011

PARIS, Texas – The National Children’s Study officially kicked off its drive to recruit study participants at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday, Feb. 10, at the National Children’s Study (NCS) Information Office, Paris Regional Medical Center North campus in Paris.

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 at more than 100 sites around the country from before birth to age 21, tracking information on health issues such as asthma, birth defects, diabetes, injuries, and obesity. Lamar County was one of the sites chosen for the study.

“We had a wonderful turnout for the NCS kickoff event, including many Lamar County community advisory board members, a representative from Sen. John Cornyn’s office, representatives from UT Southwestern in Dallas and UT Health Science Center in Tyler, and Paris physicians,” said Debra Cherry, MD, MS, principal investigator for the Lamar County location.

“The excitement and enthusiasm people have for starting recruitment is an excellent foundation for us to start fulfilling the promise of the National Children’s Study,” she said. Representatives from UTHSCT, UT Southwestern, UT School of Public Health at Dallas, and staff members from the National Children’s Study attended Thursday’s kickoff event.

“We hope to enroll about 100 pregnant women over the next six months and about 1,000 pregnant women, or 250 per year, between 2012 and 2016,” Dr. Cherry said. The NCS currently is enrolling women who are 18 years of age or older, pregnant, or who may become pregnant during the next few years, and who reside in certain parts of Lamar County.

For more information about the National Children’s Study, call the Lamar County Field Office at 903-782-9190, the Information Office at 903-905-4926, or toll free at 1-866-559-0924.

Dr. Cherry is an occupational and environmental medicine physician at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler and co-director of the Southwest Center for Pediatric Environmental Health, located on the UTHSCT campus.

UTHSCT is the lead institution for the Lamar County site, working under the direction of The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, which is leading the North Texas Children’s Study Coalition. George Lister, MD, chair of pediatrics at UT Southwestern, is the principal investigator for the UT Southwestern Study Center.

“Past research has focused on adults, and we believe environmental factors could affect children differently because their bodies are still growing and changing,” Dr. Cherry said.

“Children take in more air, food, and water for their weight, and they spend more time outdoors. That means they are more likely to be affected by the environment where they live, learn, and play,” she added.

When fully operational, the study is expected to include from 36 to 50 study centers and 105 selected sites. It was authorized by Congress and is being led by a consortium of federal agencies.

The North Texas Children’s Study Coalition was established in 2008 with a total five-year budget of about $15 million to enable Dr. Cherry and others to spearhead data-gathering and research efforts in Lamar County.

Besides UTHSCT and UT Southwestern, other coalition partners are The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health and Battelle Memorial Institute, a charitable trust headquartered in Columbus, Ohio.

For 60 years, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler has provided excellent patient care and cutting-edge treatment, specializing in pulmonary disease, cancer, heart disease, primary care, and the disciplines that support them. UTHSCT’s annual operating budget of $125 million represents a major economic impact of over $287 million to the Northeast Texas region. In FY 2010, scientists in the Center for Biomedical Research were awarded 75 competitive grants and contracts totaling more than $14 million. As the academic medical center for Northeast Texas, its graduate medical education program – with residencies in family medicine and occupational medicine – provide doctors for many communities throughout the region and beyond.

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