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Avera Research Receives $17.1 Million National Institutes of Health Grant

Aug 31, 2018 08:42AM ● By Alyssa McGinnis

The Avera Research Institute’s Center for Pediatric and Community Research has been awarded a $17.1 million grant through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for its work on a children’s health study called the ECHO Program.

The grant’s total, presented over five years, represents the largest health research funding award in South Dakota history. It will help Avera Research Institute implement its portion of the ECHO project, which has been under development and planning for the past two years. Avera’s team is one of 31 grantees that are involved in the NIH research program that looks at early environmental influences on child health and development.

Avera Research Institute is partnering with Columbia University and the University of Maryland on the project. ECHO stands for Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes, and its scientific goal is to better understand the effects of a broad range of early environmental influences on child health and development.

“Receiving this grant is a testament to the high quality of work and the commitment Avera has made to serving the region,” said Amy Elliott, PhD, Chief Clinical Research Officer with the Center for Pediatric & Community Research, a division of the Avera Research Institute. “In funding our efforts, the NIH is recognizing the growing success of our endeavors and the strength of our partnerships. Great community-based research is happening right here in the Midwest and not only in large metropolitan centers along the coasts.”

ECHO uses information from existing projects, and will include more than 50,000 children from diverse backgrounds across the United States. Avera researchers will continue to follow participants from before birth through childhood and adolescence. The program’s objectives include improvement of health of children and adolescents, and the institution of best practices for conducting team science.

Participants in the Avera Research Institute Center for Pediatric and Community Research’s Safe Passage study, as well as new participants from the areas near Rapid City and Sioux Falls, are encouraged to take part in the study.

“This grant shows the diligent efforts of our scientists are garnering well-deserved support and recognition,” said David Flicek, President and CEO of Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center.

Learn more about the project at echochildren.org.