Investigators who are conducting many types of epidemiological or clinical studies may benefit from CHEAR. Health studies that could be enhanced by CHEAR resources include both:
- Those that have little characterization of childhood environmental exposures but could be expanded to include exposure analysis, and
- Those that already have rich characterization of environmental exposures in children.
- An investigator who is conducting NIH-funded clinical research on childhood obesity and diabetes, but who has not previously included environmental exposures in his research, might work closely with CHEAR to expand his investigations to include a new environmental emphasis. CHEAR could work with him to explore possible ways to incorporate exposure analysis into the overall project and provide expert consultation on exposure analysis, study design, and data analysis and interpretation. In addition, CHEAR could perform laboratory analyses of biospecimens and assist the investigator with statistical and data analysis.
In cases like this, CHEAR can play a broad role in working with an investigator to add new dimensions to a research program. This is CHEAR’s main focus, and these are the situations in which CHEAR can make the greatest contribution.
In other cases, though, CHEAR might play a more limited role. For example:
- An investigator who is conducting an NIH-funded epidemiological study of environmental influences on childhood asthma might take advantage of CHEAR’s resources to add additional exposure variables to her study or to refine her exposure assessment. For example, she may have used environmental proxies for exposure assessment, such as proximity to a major road; with CHEAR, she could refine her exposure assessment by characterizing specific biomarkers of particulate matter exposure in the urine of her participants. This investigator might also be interested in CHEAR’s untargeted analyses, which could help her generate new hypotheses about the relationship between environmental exposures and asthma. CHEAR could also provide her with additional measures of biological response, such as oxidative stress markers, DNA adducts, and characterization of the microbiome.
In instances like this, where investigators want to expand the analyses performed in an already-established study of environmental exposures, CHEAR can offer a variety of services, particularly laboratory analyses. Most likely, investigators in this category would already know which of the analyses on CHEAR’s menu would be most informative, and they would be well prepared to incorporate those analyses into their research design.