Arkansas Children’s Research Institute (ACRI) will be a key partner in a 14-state consortium focused on pediatric COVID-19 long haul cases, part of a massive nationwide research effort funded by the National Institutes of Health. The work at ACRI will be funded through an NIH award of an estimated $25 million.
The project will help scientists better understand the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on children across the nation. That research could eventually lead to more effective treatments for children with COVID-19.
“We’ll be looking not only at children’s hospitalizations and studying their pneumonia, but also examining the long-term impacts on their hearts, on their lungs, on their development and their ability to regulate hormones,” said site research lead Dr. Jessica Snowden, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Arkansas Children’s and associate director for clinical & translational research at Arkansas Children’s Research Institute. “We don’t know yet just how many problems arise because of COVID long-term. We’ll be figuring out what causes these problems and how we can prevent them.”
Snowden is also a professor and chief of the division of pediatric infectious diseases in the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Medicine.
The study will leverage scientists at both Arkansas Children’s and UAMS to examine the surveys of families whose children have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
ACRI will coordinate the 14 rural states as a pediatric arm of the research. The National Institutes of Health awarded nearly $470 million to build the national study population of diverse research volunteers and support large-scale studies on the long-term effects of COVID-19. The NIH REsearching COVID to Enhance Recovery (RECOVER) Initiative made the parent award to New York University (NYU) Langone Health, which will make multiple sub-awards to more than 100 researchers at more than 30 institutions and serves as the RECOVER Clinical Science Core.
This new award supports new studies of COVID-19 survivors and leverages existing long-running large cohort studies with an expansion of their research focus. This combined population of research participants from new and existing cohorts, called a meta-cohort, will comprise the RECOVER Cohort. This funding was supported by the American Rescue Plan.
NIH launched the RECOVER Initiative to learn why some people have prolonged symptoms (referred to as long COVID) or develop new or returning symptoms after the acute phase of infection from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The most common symptoms include pain, headaches, fatigue, “brain fog,” shortness of breath, anxiety, depression, fever, chronic cough and sleep problems.
Data from the RECOVER Cohort will include clinical information, laboratory tests and analyses of participants in various stages of recovery following SARS-CoV-2 infection. With immediate access to data from existing, diverse study populations, it is anticipated researchers will be able to accelerate the timeline for this important research.
Studies will include adult, pregnant and pediatric populations; enroll patients during the acute as well as post-acute phases of the SARS-CoV-2 infection; evaluate tissue pathology; analyze data from millions of electronic health records; and use mobile health technologies, such as smartphone apps and wearable devices, which will gather real-world data in real time. Together, these studies are expected to provide insights over the coming months into many important questions including the incidence and prevalence of long-term effects from SARS-CoV-2 infection, the range of symptoms, underlying causes, risk factors, outcomes, and potential strategies for treatment and prevention.