The NICHD Network conducts trials related to preventing and treating HIV infection and its complications in newborns, infants, children, adolescents, and pregnant women. Since 1987, Maternal and Pediatric Infectious Disease Branch (MPIDB) (formerly the Pediatric, Adolescent, and Maternal AIDS Branch) has funded the NICHD Network, currently composed of 15 domestic sites in 11 states and territories and 14 international sites in Argentina, Brazil, Kenya, Tanzania, and Thailand, plus a Data Coordinating Center (DCC).
The NICHD Network was established to conduct a single clinical trial evaluating the use of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) prophylaxis for bacterial infections in 376 HIV-infected children. Over time, the NICHD Network has expanded with changes in the demographics of pediatric and maternal HIV infection. The number and type of clinical trial sites in the Network have changed, as well as the types of studies being done.
In 1990, the NICHD Network began collaborating with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)-funded Pediatric AIDS Clinical Trials Group (PACTG) to expand clinical trial availability at NICHD clinical trials sites. This collaboration made it possible to conduct clinical trials further evaluating primary antiretroviral therapeutic agents, other therapies targeted at opportunistic infections, and interventions to prevent perinatal HIV transmission. This NIAID-NICHD Network collaboration continues today with the NIAID-funded International Pediatric Maternal Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials (IMPAACT) Group.
The NICHD Network expanded to include sites with more expertise in obstetrics/gynecology and adolescent medicine, as well as international trial sites, first in Latin America, and then in 2014 in Africa and Asia.
As the HIV epidemic has evolved, so has the research addressed by the NICHD Network. In populations of women and children, research gaps related to HIV-associated co-infections such as tuberculosis (TB), hepatitis, and malaria have emerged as HIV research has become increasingly global in nature. As a result, the NICHD Network and NIAID-funded IMPAACT Group broadened their focus to include TB, malaria, hepatitis, and investigation of vaccines to prevent HIV-related or other high-priority infectious diseases in children, adolescents, and pregnant women, in addition to treatment of HIV infection.
In addition to its work with the IMPAACT Group described above, the NICHD Network collaborates with several other networks to design and conduct HIV-related trials. Funded by the NICHD, other NIH Institutes, and other agencies, these networks include (but are not limited to):
The NICHD Network relies on flexible contract mechanisms to initiate timely, high-priority initiatives in response to unanticipated research needs and to conduct planned studies with established protocols.
In addition to a DCC, the NICHD Network uses a centralized specimen repository to store coded biological specimens from NICHD Network studies. This repository serves as a resource for Network and external investigators who are interested in answering specific questions related to HIV/AIDS.
Current and future areas of research focus include (but are not limited to):
The NICHD Network also supports training and infrastructure development at international sites in resource-limited countries to allow future participation in pediatric and perinatal clinical trials conducted within the NICHD Network.
Westat, Inc., is currently the DCC for the NICHD Network.