A new grant to investigators in the Department of Global Health will support the generation of evidence to improve the care of acutely unwell, undernourished children. The initial phase of this project is funded by a $1.2 million award from Oxford University and it will fund the development of a number of clinical trials within a multi-site, multi-country platform (the Childhood Acute Illness & Nutritional (CHAIN) Network). Judd Walson, Vice Chair and Professor of Global Health, is the Principal Investigator on this grant and the co-Director of CHAIN. 

“We are hoping to discover new treatments that accelerate the recovery of highly vulnerable children, particularly those with malnutrition” Walson said. “The CHAIN network has just finished a five-year study exploring the causes of mortality among malnourished, and now this grant begins testing new interventions to prevent those deaths.”

The University of Washington will act as a coordination center for this project, supporting trial design, operations, epidemiology, and advanced analysis. Researchers, including Kirk Tickell, will assume data quality control and reporting roles. 

“The UW is recognized as a center of excellence in the design and management of large clinical studies across diverse settings” Walson said. “This grant pools our expertise with collaborators from other leading institutions across North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia to design and execute highly rigorous clinical trials.”

The CHAIN Network is a platform comprised of hospitals worldwide, and includes UW investigators in the Department of Global Health and at the Kenya Medical Research Institute. The network has collected biological samples from over 4,000 children as part of a large cohort study designed to identify the biological mechanisms and socio-economic factors that determine a child’s risk of mortality in the six months following their diagnosis with acute illness.

“If we are going to achieve the child health Sustainable Development Goals, we have to reduce the number of children dying from malnutrition,” Walson said. “Finding effective new managements for these very vulnerable children has been extremely challenging, but there is a lot optimism around the next generation of interventions that we will be evaluating in the CHAIN platform.”

Additional personnel on this grant includes DGH Assistant Professor Christine McGrath, Rowena de Saram of the Kenya Research and Training Center, the Global Center for Integrated Health of Women, Adolescents and Children’s (Global WACh) Ann Van Haney, Danny Carreon, and DGH’s Alyson Shumays. The full title of the grant is “CHAIN Network 2: Building the evidence base for appropriate care of the sick, undernourished child in limited resource settings”.