As we begin 2017, I reflect on the promising strides ECHO has made and look forward to successes in 2017 and beyond. In November 2016, we kicked off ECHO in a big way. Bringing together all of ECHO’s Components under one roof, we hit the scientific ground running and began to foster the culture of collaboration that is vital to ECHO’s success. We witnessed ECHO’s investigators taking leadership positions in our Working Groups. We observed rapid progress when these investigators collaborated in small groups and shared what they learned in larger group discussion.
Most importantly, we rallied around ECHO’s core mission: “to enhance the health of children for generations to come.” This mission speaks to all parts of ECHO: the observational studies of our Cohorts, the interventional studies within the IDeA States Pediatric Clinical Trials Network, and the Centers and Cores — including the Children’s Health and Exposure Analysis Resource (CHEAR) Core, the Patient Reported Outcomes (PRO) Core, the Data Analysis Center (DAC), and our ECHO Coordinating Center (CC) — that support this research.
ECHO’s long-term goals are both scientific and strategic. From a scientific perspective, our goal is to improve the health of children and adolescents by conducting solution-oriented research that informs high-impact programs, policies, and practices. From a strategic perspective, we aim to institute best practices for how to conduct Team Science in the 21st century. We’ve set an ambitious agenda for our first year, which includes 1) achieving early scientific wins by capitalizing on one of ECHO’s most powerful features: the extant data of its existing Cohorts, and 2) crafting a robust infrastructure for the IDeA States Pediatric Clinical Trials Network to begin initiating trials in our second year.
I am thrilled with the progress we have made, but ECHO’s most exciting days will be in 2017 and beyond. ECHO is underpinned by the fundamental notion that when we all row in the same direction, the whole is greater than the sum of our parts. For ECHO’s Cohorts, this means knitting a tapestry of the ECHO-wide Cohort and harmonizing its extant data. For CHEAR Core, PRO Core, and the DAC, it means analyzing existing and new insights and standardizing data collection. On the interventional side, the IDeA States Network is endeavoring to prioritize trials that examine focus areas that are similar to the Cohorts’: pre-, peri- and postnatal health, childhood obesity, airways disorders, and neurodevelopment.
As we continue to bring ECHO to life in 2017, we will begin to address questions that link a broad range of early environmental influences to the health of a highly diverse population of children and adolescents. We are eager to begin this journey to move the needle in improving child health.