202101 Pediatric Immune System – Ontogeny and Development (INTEND)

Program seeks Council approval for initiative titled “Pediatric Immune System – Ontogeny and Development (INTEND)”. Worldwide, mortality in children under the age of 5 is predominantly due to infectious diseases and their associated immune modulations.

Immune system in children is remarkably different from adults and forms the basis for the overall well-being in adulthood. A protected and systematically “trained” pediatric immune system results in a robust and effective adult immune system. Knowledge of this development of pediatric immune system in response to exposure to childhood infections, vaccinations, microbial metabolites, and environmental factors can help chart pathways that are strategic to prevent and treat infections efficiently.

The goal of this initiative is to elucidate immune ontogeny and development patterns of immune system in infants, children and adolescents focusing on innate and the adaptive branches of immunity that is relevant to underlying chronic infections. This will be studied in conjunction with the influence of internal factors such as the microbiome and the external environmental factors (For example, projects of interest might investigate immune cell ontogeny in lung alveoli due to exposure to a specific immunogen (like BCG vaccine) at infancy vs exposure during adolescence and the chronic effect of air pollution).

This proposed concept aligns with the NICHD Strategic Plan Theme 1- Understanding molecular, cellular and structural basis of development, Theme 3- Setting the foundation for healthy pregnancies and lifelong wellness and Theme 4- Improving child and adolescent health and transition to adulthood and in doing so also addresses the cross cutting topics of Infectious Disease and Nutrition.

This proposed concept aligns with the MPIDB research priority on Immune Crosstalk in Infant Immune System Development and PGNB branch priorities on Human Milk Composition and Function.

Program Contact

Sai Majji, Maternal & Pediatric Infectious Disease Branch (MPIDB)
Ashley Vargas, Pediatric Growth & Nutrition Branch (PGNB)

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