Children’s Hospital Colorado is joining the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases‘ Childhood Asthma in Urban Settings (CAUSE) with a grant of $2.3 million. CAUSE is a clinical research network established by NIAID to conduct studies to improve care for kids who have asthma.

Locally, Children’s Colorado will work with National Jewish Health to lead a clinical and translational study called WINDOWS. The study’s goal is to better understand the early-life determinants of developing chronic asthma to potentially reduce exacerbations in high-risk kids or even keep them from developing chronic asthma altogether.

WINDOWS will be a seven-year collaborative study between project leaders in the Children’s Colorado Emergency Department and Breathing Institute and National Jewish Health Center for Genes, Environment & Health. Kate Hamlington-Smith, PhD, WINDOWS project lead, associate researcher at the Children’s Colorado Breathing Institute and assistant professor of pediatric pulmonary and sleep medicine at CU School of Medicine, has worked with Dr. Liu on a variety of pediatric asthma studies where she investigates the effects of environmental factors on lung function. In coordination with the National Jewish Health research team, Hamlington-Smith’s team will look at changes in lung function and biological responses over early childhood to determine differences between children who do and do not go on develop chronic asthma. She believes understanding these differences could lead to more effective treatments to address asthma before it develops.

“We typically see about 1,000 visits for severe asthma in the Children’s Colorado Emergency Department on the Anschutz Medical Campus every year, so this location creates the ideal site to identify patients who have a high risk of developing asthma,” said Nidhya Navanandan, MD, pediatric emergency medicine specialist at Children’s Colorado, CAUSE and WINDOWS co-investigator and assistant professor of pediatric emergency at CU School of Medicine. “Once we identify toddlers who are experiencing wheezing episodes in our emergency department, our goal is to then follow their progress into early childhood to see if they go on to experience recurrent wheezing episodes, indicating chronic asthma, or if their symptoms dissipate. Understanding the early life differences in children who go on to develop chronic asthma can help us prevent asthma in the future.”

“We are grateful to be included in the CAUSE research network and to have Children’s Colorado and the metro Denver community represented in our national understanding of pediatric asthma,” said Andrew Liu, MD, pediatric asthma specialist and Colorado CAUSE principal investigator at Children’s Colorado and professor of pediatric pulmonary and sleep medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine on the Anschutz Medical Campus. “What makes CAUSE so effective is bringing a trifecta of science, research and a top-notch team to the children and families who live with high burdens of asthma and need help, in the heart of the place where we’re already caring for these children. Our local WINDOWS study is the first of its kind, the first long-term pediatric asthma study in emergency department patients experiencing severe asthma attacks.”

Children’s Colorado and the CU School of Medicine join several other children’s hospitals and research entities in the CAUSE clinical research network, including:

  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Boston Children’s Hospital
  • Children’s National Research Institute, Washington, D.C.
  • Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
  • Columbia University Health Sciences, New York
  • Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York
  • Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago