Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) External Scientific Board


In September 2016, NIH launched an initiative, the ECHO Program, whose mission is to enhance the health of children for generations to come. The Program has two major components, the ECHO Cohorts – for observational research, and the ECHO IDeA States Pediatric Clinical Trials Network (ISPCTN)– for interventional research.

ECHO fulfills two congressional mandates: 1) that NIH continue a large-scale, long-term research study to investigate a broad array of early environmental factors influencing child health and 2) that NIH has a network dedicated to pediatric diseases as dictated in the CURES Act of 2016. With the ECHO Cohorts, NIH complies with the Child Health Act of 2000 through the incorporation of longitudinal cohort studies with a recruitment goal of 50,000 participants. As of March 2020, the Cohorts have enrolled an estimated 34,000 mothers and 50,000 children. The IDeA States Pediatric Clinical Trials Network (ISPCTN) helps to fulfill the original intention of the National Pediatric Research Network Act of 2013, which the 21st Century Cures Act made mandatory in 2016.

An External Scientific Board works to oversee the program and consider how to overcome challenges to the ECHO Program and to provide advice on strategies to ensure the long-term success of the ECHO program. Members include individuals with scientific and biomedical expertise in pediatrics, early childhood development, maternal-fetal medicine, public health, environmental toxins, epidemiology, community-based participatory research, human subjects research and clinical trials, data science, bioinformatics, bioethics, parent/participant representation, as well as research with American Indian and Alaskan Native peoples.

The Board meets twice yearly, and reports to the Council of Councils, who advises the NIH Director on ECHO progress.


The ECHO External Scientific Board (ESB) will provide advice on strategies to ensure the long-term success of the ECHO program. Challenges to the ECHO Program include fostering a culture of collaboration; attending to numerous stakeholders, such as Congress, researchers, professional societies and participants; harmonizing data across disparate cohorts; capitalizing on expertise within as well as outside NIH; incorporating all ECHO components under one umbrella; reinforcing solid ethical principles throughout, promoting timely public sharing of important discoveries, ensuring early, sustained successes; and using funds wisely.



Kent Thornburg, PhD
Professor of Medicine, Director of the Center for Developmental Health at the Knight Cardiovascular Institute, and Director of the Bob and Charlee Moore Institute for Nutrition Wellness
Oregon Health and Science University


Mary E. Aitken, MD, MPH
Professor and Chair, Department of Pediatrics
Dan L. Duncan Distinguished University Chair in Pediatrics, McGovern Medical School at UTHealth

Maria Rosario (Happy) Araneta, PhD, MPH
Assistant Dean of Diversity and Community Partnerships Professor, Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, University of California San Diego School of Medicine

Cynthia Gyamfi-Bannerman, MD, MSc
Samuel SC Yen Endowed Chair and Professor,
Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, & Reproductive Sciences, UC San Diego

William Freeman, MD, MPH, CIP
Program Director, Center for Health & Human Protections Administrator
Director of Tribal Community Health Programs
Northwest Indian College

Melissa Haendel, PhD, FACMI
Professor of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology, School of Medicine
Director of the Center for Data to Health, Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute
Biomedical Informatics Graduate Program, School of Medicine
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Chief Research Informatics Officer (CRIO)

Mr. Mark Hogsett
Member, NICU Parent Advisory Council
March of Dimes NICU Family Support
Children’s National Health System

Parvesh Kumar, MD                           
Professor and Chair, Department of Radiation Oncology         
Director, Cancer Program
Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Research
University of Nevada - Las Vegas School of Medicine

Pilar Ossorio, PhD, JD
Professor at University of Wisconsin - Madison

Anna Maria Siega-Riz, PhD
Dean and Professor,
Departments of Nutrition, and Biostatistics and Epidemiology
School of Public Health and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts

Ms. Nsedu Witherspoon, MPH
Executive Director, Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN)
110 Maryland Avenue, NE Suite 404
Washington, DC 20002

Executive Secretary

Erin Luetkemeier, PhD
Chief of Staff, 
Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) 
National Institutes of Health

This page last reviewed on