The UW School of Medicine and Public Health has been selected as the national leadership center for a new clinical research network that will conduct pediatric asthma research in low-income urban settings around the country.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), recently announced they have awarded $10 million in first-year funding to establish the clinical research network, called Childhood Asthma in Urban Settings (CAUSE). The NIAID intends to provide approximately $70 million over seven years to support the new network. 

Dan Jackson
Daniel Jackson

The CAUSE Network will be led by principal investigators Dr. Daniel Jackson and Dr. James Gern, both professors of pediatrics and medicine at UW.

“Children who grow up in urban neighborhoods not only have higher rates of asthma but also experience more negative outcomes due to the disease,” said Dr. Jackson. “Our previous research efforts have identified some of the variables by which disadvantaged urban environments can increase the risk for allergic diseases and asthma, and CAUSE provides an incredible opportunity to build on these successes and take the next steps toward refining our understanding of asthma and developing therapies that will lessen disease burden and hopefully lead to disease prevention.”

James Gern
James Gern

This new initiative expands NIAID’s long-standing efforts to better understand and reduce the disproportionate burden of asthma among children living in low-income urban environments. Since 1991, NIAID has sponsored a series of research programs, many of which were also led by UW researchers, that examined why pediatric asthma is prevalent and more severe in certain urban areas. Of these program’s many accomplishments, researchers discovered that programs to decrease exposures to cockroaches and other household allergens reduce children’s asthma symptoms and health care visits. Researchers also established that omalizumab, a medication that reduces immunoglobulin E, can prevent seasonal asthma attacks. Further, maternal stress and depression and other early life exposures can lead to different forms of childhood asthma, that vary in severity and underlying causes. In addition, scientists identified molecular pathways in the nasal passages of children with illnesses that can promote asthma attacks.

In addition to the leadership center at UW, the CAUSE network will include scientific collaborators at the University of California-San Francisco, University of Chicago, University of Washington, and the La Jolla Institute, and the following seven clinical research centers, which will all conduct locally relevant clinical and translational studies as well.

  • Boston Children’s Hospital
  • Children’s National Research Institute, Washington, D.C.
  • Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
  • Columbia University Health Sciences, New York
  • Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York
  • Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
  • University of Colorado Denver