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SDSC to Collect and Manage Data for Huge Health Study

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. 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.

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.”

“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,” according to co-principal investigator Christina Chambers, associate professor at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. “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.

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.

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