Children’s Health Exposure Analysis Resource (CHEAR): Key Resources for Researchers

Environmental and genetic factors need to be considered to understand children’s health. To analyze the array of exposures that may affect them, sophisticated tools and technologies are needed, tools that are not readily available to researchers.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) created the Children’s Health Exposure Analysis Resource (CHEAR). It is a centralized network of high-quality exposure assessment services. CHEAR enables scientists already studying children’s health to expand their research to consider environmental impacts. 

CHEAR provides National Institutes of Health-funded researchers

  • Access at no cost to comprehensive services in study design, state-of-the-art laboratory testing of biological samples, and assistance with statistical analysis
  • Ability to measure all environmental exposures on children from conception to adolescence

How Westat Supports CHEAR

Since 2015, Westat has operated the CHEAR Coordinating Center, which helps researchers by providing:

  • Access to CHEAR services
  • The opportunity to interact and collaborate with each other

CHEAR’s infrastructure also includes 2 other key components:

  • The Laboratory Network: 6 “Lab Hubs”
  • The Exposure Data Repository and Resource for Statistical Analysis and Methods Development (the Data Center)

Easing Access to Critical Resources

During our work as the CHEAR Coordinating Center, Westat has

  • Assembled and maintained a comprehensive index of CHEAR laboratory and data services, methodologies, and expertise
  • Created and updated a public website, providing resources and enabling communication with the broad scientific community
  • Improved the proposal process to participate in further research
  • Developed and maintained a workflow management system for external investigators, the Coordinating Center, Lab Hubs, and the Data Center
  • Coordinated access to consulting services for researchers to support study design and analysis
  • Supported developing laboratory processes and standardizing laboratory analyses
  • Defined performance standards and collected data to evaluate CHEAR services

Results            

Since September 2016, CHEAR has provided support for 30+ children’s health studies and reviewed 75 requests for laboratory and statistical analysis services.

Asthma, diabetes, autism, and obesity have been the primary health outcomes of interest.

Phthalatesphenols, metals, perfluorinated chemicals, and flame retardants receive the most requests for exposure analyses; untargeted analyses screen for hundreds to thousands of chemicals. 

Nearly 80,000 biological samples will be analyzed by CHEAR laboratories. These samples are links to a broad range of environmental exposures and associated biological responses.

Westat has been privileged to work with world-class experts who are passionate about improving our knowledge of the effects of environmental exposures on children’s health and development.

- Barbara O’Brien, a Westat Associate Director

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