Press Archive

SDSC to Collect, Manage Data for San Diego Part of National Children's Study

UC San Diego's Supercomputer Center to Provide Secure Environment for Data Collection

Published 01/14/2011

The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California, San Diego, will host and manage collected data as part of the National Children's Study (NCS), the largest long-term examination of children's health and development ever conducted in the United States.

The NCS study, announced this week, is being led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Researchers from the UC San Diego School of Medicine and San Diego State University are seeking to enroll women (ages 18-49) who are pregnant or may become pregnant in the next few years into the San Diego County arm of the study. Nationally, the study will follow 100,000 children from before birth to age 21 to learn how the environment influences children's health, development, and quality of life.

"The National Children's Study is an investment in the future of America's children," said Alan Guttmacher, MD, director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) of the National Institutes of Health. "Through their participation, women and their families can help in the search for information to improve the health, development and well being of future generations."

In coordination with the NCS's San Diego County Study Center, SDSC's expertise and computer and data storage resources will be leveraged for the collection of data from San Diego County participants, along with case management and eventual export to the NCS program office.
"This new study provides an unprecedented opportunity to gather long-term child development data," said Dallas Thornton, SDSC Division Director, Cyberinfrastructure Services. "SDSC looks forward to supporting the study with leading-edge technologies to enable secure collection and storage of these important data sets."

The NIH-funded study will provide San Diego County families and the nation with the most comprehensive understanding of child development and ultimately healthy social practices ever obtained, according to co-principal investigators Christina Chambers, associate professor at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, and Mel Hovell, professor and director of SDSU's Center for Behavioral Epidemiology and Community Health.

"These children and their families will be followed for 25 years, with enough detail about their specific household environments to learn what causes, as well as what may prevent, common serious conditions such as childhood asthma, diabetes, obesity, autism, and mental illness," said Chambers, a specialist in environmental causes of pregnancy complications and childhood developmental disabilities. "We will finally be able to create a national sample to help us confirm, for example, whether suspected contaminants such as pesticides and other chemicals are actually the cause of birth defects or metabolic disease."

Researchers expect to analyze the information they collect for years to come, to gain new understanding of how environmental factors such as the foods people eat, the chemicals they may be exposed to and other aspects of daily life might interact with genes to affect health and development. "This study will inform child rearing practices that will promote advanced social skills and healthy lifestyles that will provide the best possible life for future generations," said Hovell.

Click for more information about UC San Diego's role in the NCS study.

About SDSC
As an organized research unit of UC San Diego, SDSC is a national leader in creating and providing cyberinfrastructure for data-intensive research, and celebrated its 25th anniversary in late 2010 as one of the National Science Foundation's first supercomputer centers. Cyberinfrastructure refers to an accessible and integrated network of computer-based resources and expertise, focused on accelerating scientific inquiry and discovery. SDSC is a founding member of TeraGrid, the nation's largest open-access scientific discovery infrastructure.

Media Contacts:
SDSC Communications:
Jan Zverina
858 534-5111 or

Warren R. Froelich
858 822-3622 or

UC San Diego Health System:
Jackie Carr
619-543-6163 or

Gina Jacobs
619-594-4563 or

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