Posted: July 28, 2021

Molly Hall, assistant professor of biomedical sciences, was awarded the NIH ECHO Opportunities and Infrastructure Fund (OIF) Award with Dean Craig Newschaffer, College of Health and Human Development, titled “Integrative genome-exposome method to identify interactions between early life exposures and the genome”.

The proposal aims to develop a novel software for analyzing genome-environment (GxE) and exposure-exposure (ExE) interactions in high-dimensional big data: Integrative Genome Exposome Method (IGEM Software). Traditional statistical methods are insufficient to analyze GxE and ExE interactions in large, high-dimensional datasets like ECHO, and advanced computational tools are needed. The aims of this proposal are to develop IGEM Software and apply IGEM to ECHO neurodevelopmental outcomes, including autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit disorder. The ECHO OIF Awards $200,000 over two years to early stage investigators for the introduction of new research, tools, and technologies in the ECHO Program. OIF projects aim to provide benefit to the ECHO Program as a whole and the child health community at large. “The Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program aims to determine what factors give children the highest probability of achieving the best health outcomes over their lifetimes. ECHO focuses on five key pediatric outcomes with large public health impact: Pre-, peri-, and postnatal; Upper and lower airway; Obesity; Neurodevelopment; and Positive Health, or well-being. The program has two major components, the ECHO cohorts—for observational research, and the ECHO IDeA States Pediatric Clinical Trials Network (ISPCTN)—for interventional research. The ECHO cohorts weave together information from 69 long-term ongoing maternal-child cohort studies totaling about 50,000 children from racially, socioeconomically, and geographically diverse backgrounds.