Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center is receiving a $32.5 million, five-year grant from the Bench to Bassinet Program of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to determine why children are born with heart problems and find effective treatments.
Congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect and a major cause of infant death. Nearly 40,000 children are born with congenital heart defects each year in this country. Experts estimate that approximately 1 to 2 million adults and 800,000 children in the United States currently live with the disease.
NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) launched the Bench to Bassinet Program to accelerate pediatric cardiovascular research from discovery and translational research to clinical testing. The Institute has been joined by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) on this latest round of funding. NICHD is investing in the program in part to support research exploring the high incidence of neurodevelopmental disabilities in children with severe heart defects. The goal is to uncover genetic mutations that affect both heart and brain development.
Cincinnati Children's is receiving the funds to be administrative coordinating center for the program. The coordinating center provides infrastructure to enhance collaborations among program members. It also facilitates the transfer of promising research from the laboratory to the clinic for the most important cardiovascular clinical care problems. Cincinnati Children's will now also serve as the program's genomic data hub to collect, integrate, and provide over 150 terabytes of molecular data to the cardiac research community.
The award is believed to be the largest single grant ever received by the medical center.
To date, the Bench to Bassinet Program has successfully collected clinical, environmental, and genomic data for over 10,000 children with heart defects through a collaboration involving nine academic health centers.
"As the coordinating center, we can make sure that research infrastructure and data are shared and integrated to accelerate discovery of the genetic and biological mechanisms of congenital heart defects," said Eileen C. King, PhD, principal investigator of the project and associate professor in the Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at Cincinnati Children's. "This will ultimately lead to improvements in treating or even preventing these often devastating defects."
One of the program's strengths is the national, multi-institutional expertise and collaboration that Cincinnati Children's will coordinate.
"Cincinnati Children's will be able to leverage its local clinical and research resources to augment the outstanding collective research environment that the Bench to Bassinet Program brings together," said Peter White, PhD, co-principal investigator and director of the Division of Biomedical Informatics. "The medical center offers a unique combination of world-leading pediatric cardiovascular and neurocognitive expertise, advanced infrastructure and informatics, outstanding institutional support, and state-of-the-art technology."
"The Bench to Bassinet Program has made important advances toward a better understanding of the etiology of congenital heart defects and the underlying basic biological mechanisms," said Charlene A. Schramm, PhD, an administrator of the program at NHLBI. "Through its role as the administrative coordinating center, Cincinnati Children's will be essential to the continuing success of the program by facilitating critical research interactions and managing the use of shared resources."
In August 2015, the NHLBI renewed its support for two components of the Bench to Bassinet program: the Cardiovascular Development Consortium and the Pediatric Cardiac Genomics Consortium, which were both launched in 2010.
The Cardiovascular Development Consortium conducts basic research with laboratory models to discover which genes are turned on and off during heart development, and how these genes direct or influence cardiovascular development. The consortium includes the University of Utah, Harvard Medical School, the J. David Gladstone Institutes, and the University of California, San Diego.
The Pediatric Cardiac Genomics Consortium uses genetic data from thousands of individuals born with congenital heart disease to uncover genes that may cause the disease and how those genes influence clinical outcome. This consortium includes the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Boston Children's Hospital, Yale University, the University of Utah, and the J. David Gladstone Institutes.
The Bench to Bassinet's additional flagship program is the Pediatric Heart Network. Established in 2001, this network represents a group of pediatric cardiovascular centers in the United States and Canada conducting research to determine optimal therapies for children with congenital and acquired heart disease. The network was created to help doctors and nurses design and carry out clinical research so that children with heart diseases can receive high-quality, evidence-based care. Cincinnati Children's has been a member of the Pediatric Heart Network since 2006.
About Cincinnati Children's
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center ranks third in the nation among all Honor Roll hospitals in U.S. News and World Report's 2015 Best Children's Hospitals. It is also ranked in the top 10 for all 10 pediatric specialties, including a #1 ranking in pulmonology and #2 in cancer and in nephrology. Cincinnati Children's, a non-profit organization, is one of the top three recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health, and a research and teaching affiliate of the University of Cincinnati's College of Medicine. The medical center is internationally recognized for improving child health and transforming delivery of care through fully integrated, globally recognized research, education and innovation. Additional information can be found at http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org. Connect on the Cincinnati Children's blog, via Facebook and on Twitter.