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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

Johns Hopkins: Signs NIH-Facilitated Data-Sharing Agreement With Navajo Nation for ECHO Program Studying Environmental Influences

Dr. Lisa Jacobson, a professor in the department of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, represented Johns Hopkins University in a multi-party signing ceremony on May 7 ratifying an agreement with the Navajo Nation. The agreement was signed by the Navajo Nation, Johns Hopkins University (JHU), Baltimore, and RTI International, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

The agreement enables the Navajo Birth Cohort Study (NBCS) to continue as part of the Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program and to share NBCS individual participant data with ECHO consortium members.

ECHO, an initiative designed to understand how the environment from preconception through early childhood influences child health, capitalizes on existing cohorts of more than 50,000 children across the U.S. In 2016 the Bloomberg School was awarded a $95 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for the ECHO research — part of $157 million awarded to many institutions that year for the ECHO project. The Bloomberg School and RTI, under the leadership of Dr. Jacobson and RTI senior biostatistician Dr. Corette Parker, are partnered as the Data Analysis Center, which is responsible for secure data management and statistical analysis across the ECHO cohort studies.

The agreement was created to respect Navajo Nation cultural beliefs, tribal sovereignty and community values. It is the first tribal data-sharing agreement for a nationwide research consortium creating a large-scale database, and lays the groundwork for discussion with other tribal nations considering participation in biomedical research programs.