Jill Joseph, a physician and professor at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis, was recently named chair of the Institutional Development Awards (IDeA) Program States Pediatric Clinical Trials Network. Funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the seven-year, multimillion-dollar research initiative aims to investigate innovative therapies to give children the highest probability of achieving the best health outcomes over their lifetimes.
The IDeA program fosters health-related research and enhances the competitiveness of investigators at institutions located in states in which the aggregate success rate for applications to NIH has historically been low. The goal of the network Joseph chairs is to oversee state-of-the art pediatric clinical research networks in rural and medically underserved areas, so that children from these communities can participate in clinical trials.
“It is vital to increase our understanding of the effects of environmental exposures on child health and development,” said Joseph. “This initiative enables us to capitalize on existing participant populations, and support approaches that can evolve with the science and take advantage of the growing number of clinical research networks and technological advances. It is inspiring to work with so many scientists committed to improving child health.”
The initiative is one of several that make up the NIH Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes Program (ECHO). ECHO will fund existing pediatric cohorts with a goal of enrolling more than 50,000 children from diverse racial, geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds. ECHO research will focus on factors that may influence health outcomes around the time of birth as well as into later childhood and adolescence, including upper and lower airway health and development, obesity, and brain and nervous system development.
As chair of the clinical trials network, Joseph also serves on the Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes External Scientific Board, advising the NIH director.
A physician whose practice began in pediatrics and prevention, Joseph now focuses on clinical research, health services and health outcomes, while also engaging communities in meaningful ways. She served as associate dean for research at the School of Nursing from 2011 until October 2016. Under her leadership, the new school’s research program grew to $6 million, funded by an array of federal agencies and foundations.
“The School of Nursing has benefitted from Dr. Joseph’s commitment to interdisciplinary education and research, as well as her desire to seek novel approaches in research and community building,” explained Theresa Harvath, associate dean for academics at the School of Nursing. “This work in underserved areas has the potential to positively impact thousands of children; it also underscores the core values of our school and UC Davis Health.”