Institute Activities and Advances
The NICHD’s research portfolio encompasses topics including pediatric critical care, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and TBI rehabilitation, and prevention of pediatric injury.
The NICHD supports research on pediatric critical care. As more medically fragile and disabled children live longer after the onset of illness or injuries, there is increasing need for research to evaluate longer-term outcomes after pediatric critical care. Relevant research activities seek to answer questions about the relationship of pediatric critical care practice to child health and disability. Research studies focus on linking pediatric critical care medicine and science to the epidemiology, prevention, and treatment of childhood disabilities. For instance, choice of ventilator and cardiovascular support techniques, choice of pharmacologic agents in sedation and analgesia, and their longer-term effects on child health and development are all emerging issues within pediatric critical care research. Because the use of resources is such a central issue in most pediatric critical care services, comparisons of nursing hours and other measures of service consumption are of interest in weighing the eventual benefits for children and families.
The Institute also supports research to understand all aspects of TBI and stroke, including their underlying mechanisms, and to develop and assess medical rehabilitation therapies and interventions related to improving function, quality of life, and outcomes for stroke and TBI patients. In addition, the program supports efforts related to secondary conditions of TBI and stroke, such as muscle atrophy, speech and language problems, pain, and psychological and psychosocial effects of these conditions.
In the Division of Intramural Population Health Research, the Health Behavior Branch conducts research related to injury prevention. For example, the integration of individually tailored health communications in the pediatric primary care setting may offer an innovative and effective way to reduce injury in young children. One area of research addresses the use of individually tailored health communications about pediatric injury prevention that is provided in the pediatric primary care setting. Another area of research involves a series of observational studies that are designed to improve understanding of the nature of teen driving risk.
Other Activities and Advances
The NICHD supports a number of research and training networks, which include:
- The Collaborative Pediatric Critical Care Research Network (CPCCRN). This network serves as a national resource for studying the scientific bases of pediatric critical care medicine. The CPCCRN provides the infrastructure needed to pursue rigorous clinical trials and descriptive studies in pediatric critical care medicine. The Network aims to reduce morbidity and mortality from pediatric critical illness and injury by enhancing knowledge of the scientific bases of pediatric critical care practice. The Network currently includes eight collaborative clinical sites with large pediatric intensive care units. A Data Coordinating Center at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center supports the Network by using cutting-edge informatics to manage the complexities of the emerging collaborative research.
- The Medical Rehabilitation Research Infrastructure Network (MRRIN). This network, funded through the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR) with additional support from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, builds research infrastructure in medical rehabilitation by providing investigators with access to expertise, courses and workshops, technologies, and other collaborative opportunities from allied disciplines, such as neuroscience, engineering, applied behavior, and the social sciences.
The NICHD also supports the Pediatric Critical Care Scientist Development Program, a national faculty training and career development program that develops successful pediatric critical care physician scientists who conduct research to enhance the scientific understanding, clinical management, and rehabilitation of pediatric critical illness.