Release: NIH funds eight studies to uncover risk factors for COVID-19-related inflammatory syndrome in children

Awards part of a larger effort to study pediatric COVID-19 and related conditions

Masked child lying in hospital bed while nurse checks oxygen level on a finger pulse oximeter.
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The National Institutes of Health has awarded eight research grants to develop approaches for identifying children at high risk for Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a rare and severe after-effect of COVID-19 or exposure to the virus that causes it. Up to $20 million will be provided for the projects over four years, pending the availability of funds.

“These awards underscore NIH’s commitment to identifying children at risk for MIS-C, which will inform development of interventions to improve their health outcomes,” said Diana Bianchi, M.D., director of NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). NICHD and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute lead the NIH-wide effort to understand the SARS-CoV-2 spectrum of illness among children.

In most cases, children exposed to or infected with SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, will not develop any symptoms or will develop only a mild illness. Some children become seriously ill at the time of infection. Others who initially have no symptoms may go on to develop MIS-C, a severe, sometimes fatal, condition marked by inflammation of one or more organs, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes and gastrointestinal tract.

The NIH awards will fund studies enrolling children with diverse geographic, racial and ethnic backgrounds across 30 U.S. States, Canada, the U.K. and South America. The studies will explore how genetic, immune, viral, environmental, and other factors influence the severity of COVID-19 in children and the chances of progression to MIS-C and other long-term complications. The awards come from NIH’s Predicting Viral-Associated Inflammatory Disease Severity in Children with Laboratory Diagnostics and Artificial Intelligence (PreVAIL kIds) initiative. These awards are part of the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) Radical (RADx-rad) program to support new, non-traditional approaches and reimagined uses of existing tools to address gaps in COVID-19 testing and surveillance.

The new awards will evaluate genes, immune system proteins, and other biomarkers, examine how the virus interacts with the body and how the immune system responds to it. These studies will rely on artificial intelligence and machine learning to interpret the data they acquire, to understand risk factors underlying the severity of COVID-19 and MIS-C.

The awardees and project names are as follows:

  • Jane C. Burns, University of California, San Diego
    Diagnosing and predicting risk in children with SARS-CoV-2- related illness
  • Cedric Manlhiot, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore
    A data science approach to identify and manage MIS-C associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection and Kawasaki disease in pediatric patients
  • Ananth V. Annapragada, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston
    Artificial intelligence COVID-19 risk assessment for kids
  • Audrey R. Odom John, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
    Diagnosis of MIS-C in febrile children
  • Usha Sethuraman, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant
    Severity predictors integrating salivary transcriptomics and proteomics with multi neural network intelligence in SARS-CoV2 infection in children
  • Juan C. Salazar, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Hartford
    Identifying biomarker signatures of prognostic value for MIS-C
  • Charles Yen Chiu, University of California, San Francisco
    Discovery and clinical validation of host biomarkers of disease severity and MIS-C with Covid-19
  • Lawrence Kleinman, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, New Jersey
    COVID-19 Network of Networks Expanding Clinical and Translational approaches to Predict Severe Illness in Children


Emergency Awards: RADx-rad Predicting Viral-Associated Inflammatory Disease Severity in Children with Laboratory Diagnostics and Artificial Intelligence (PreVAIL kIds). 2020.


About the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADxSM) initiative: The RADx initiative was launched on April 29, 2020, to speed innovation in the development, commercialization and implementation of technologies for COVID-19 testing. The initiative has four programs: RADx Tech, RADx Advanced Technology Platforms, RADx Underserved Populations and RADx Radical. It leverages the existing NIH Point-of-Care Technology Research Network. The RADx initiative partners with federal agencies, including the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health, Department of Defense, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, and U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Learn more about the RADx initiative and its programs:

About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): NICHD leads research and training to understand human development, improve reproductive health, enhance the lives of children and adolescents, and optimize abilities for all. For more information, visit

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit  

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