Subproject for Early Life Origins of Cardiovascular Health: Healthier, Earlier (Lifang Hou)

Project: Research project

Project Details


Preserving ideal cardiovascular health (CVH) from early childhood to middle age is essential to achieve AHA’s Strategic Impact Goal of improving CVH for all Americans. But ideal CVH is presently rare in middle age, due to progressive loss beginning in childhood. Further, defining and monitoring CVH at birth and in early childhood has proven difficult; application of adult CVH metrics has given an incomplete picture of how and how early CVH is lost. This Center’s focused research will provide evidence for innovative policies, programs and practices to preserve CVH (primordial prevention) in children, rather than rely exclusively on efforts to restore it later in life (primary and secondary prevention). Through three closely synergistic research projects and a deeply embedded multidisciplinary training program, we will stimulate new approaches to children’s CVH research and contribute critical new insights enabling improvement in CVH for all, from birth onward, toward the vision of a future generation that benefits earlier, remains healthier, and lives longer lives free of CVD and stroke. Specific Aims: The over-arching aim of the Center is to define a novel paradigm for measuring, monitoring and modifying CVH from birth to age 12, by pursuing the following Specific Aims: Aim 1 (Population Science): To establish practical means to track CVH from birth to age 12, assessing prevalence and distribution of ideal CVH at birth and trajectories of CVH, assessing key potential modifiers of related neurodevelopmental assets and vulnerabilities; Aim 2 (Clinical Science): To evaluate the effect on CVH metrics, especially body mass index (BMI), among 3-5 year old offspring of (a) antenatal maternal weight control interventions, and (b) concurrent dietary intervention; Aim 3 (Basic Science): To assess dynamic epigenetic markers of fetal and early life CVH in the context of exposures and neurodevelopmental measures (from Aim 1), and in response to the clinical interventions (from Aim 2); Aim 4 (Training Program): We will also leverage our extensive institutional resources and experienced mentors to provide a unique multi-disciplinary learning experience for our selected fellows, both local and by exchange with other Centers, to instill a scientific culture that bridges basic, clinical, and population science for life course research in children’s health. Finally, with our strong commitment to Team Science and leadership in this arena, interdisciplinary research collaboration will flourish within our Center and with others in the Network. Our three research projects: Population Project: Norrina Allen, PhD MPH - CVH Trajectories from Birth Through Adolescence Clinical Project: Linda Van Horn, PhD RD - Keeping IDeal CVH Family Intervention Trial: KIDFIT Basic Project: Lifang Hou, MD PhD - Characterizing Dynamic Epigenomic CVH Markers in Early Life
Effective start/end date7/1/176/30/22


  • American Heart Association (17SFRN33660752)


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