MISSOULA – The School of Public and Community Health Sciences at the University of Montana recently was awarded a $1.8 million grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The funding will develop the Montana Pediatric Clinical Trial Site.

            The charge of MPCTS is to include children from rural and Native American populations in multicentered studies examining the influence of environmental factors on childhood health as part of the larger Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes program.
            “These funds are a tremendous opportunity for the University of Montana to expand efforts already underway to improve the health of children,” said MPCTS Director Dr. Paul Smith. “The main strength of our application was showing that investigators from UM’s School of Public and Community Health Sciences already had a track record of studies involving Native American and rural children. Understanding health and cultural issues of these children has been a key to such successful efforts.”
            In the past, children from states such as Montana have been largely excluded from many studies. However, they might differ significantly compared to children in urban settings in terms of risk factors, responses to disease or treatment. The grant will allow researchers and physicians in Montana to become part of the Institutional Development Award Pediatric Network and to develop methods for including children from rural states in such studies.
            “This grant award emphasizes the robust collaboration that exists between the campus expertise associated with the UM Health and Medicine Initiative and our health care providers to move health and wellness forward in the region,” said Reed Humphrey, dean of UM’s College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences.
            MCTPS will establish a network of collaborators located across the state and larger national institutions.
            Along with Smith – who also is director of pediatric inpatient care, pulmonology and critical care at Missoula’s Community Medical Center and is affiliated with UM’s Family Medicine Residency – other key personnel involved from UM are Erin Semmens and Kathrene Conway from the School of Public and Community Health Sciences and Lisa Blank from the Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences. Outside UM, a cadre of nurses from across the state will help coordinate subject enrollment and data management.
            The grant will support MCTPS for four years.