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The COVID-19 pandemic presented a challenge to established seed grant funding mechanisms aimed at fostering collaboration in child health research between investigators at the University of Minnesota (UMN) and Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota (Children’s MN). We created a “rapid response,” small grant program to catalyze collaborations in child health COVID-19 research. In this paper, we describe the projects funded by this mechanism and metrics of their success.
Using seed funds from the UMN Clinical and Translational Science Institute, the UMN Medical School Department of Pediatrics, and the Children’s Minnesota Research Institute, a rapid response request for applications (RFAs) was issued based on the stipulations that the proposal had to: 1) consist of a clear, synergistic partnership between co-PIs from the academic and community settings; and 2) that the proposal addressed an area of knowledge deficit relevant to child health engendered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Grant applications submitted in response to this RFA segregated into three categories: family fragility and disruption exacerbated by COVID-19; knowledge gaps about COVID-19 disease in children; and optimizing pediatric care in the setting of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. A series of virtual workshops presented research results to the pediatric community. Several manuscripts and extramural funding awards underscored the success of the program.
A “rapid response” seed funding mechanism enabled nascent academic-community research partnerships during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the context of the rapidly evolving landscape of COVID-19, flexible seed grant programs can be useful in addressing unmet needs in pediatric health.
The relationship between dietary intake and obesity is complex, and dietary pattern analysis may offer new insight. We examined associations between dietary patterns identified in a diverse cohort of adolescents and weight status cross-sectionally and over a 5-year period. Project EAT (Eating Among Teens) (Time 1) collected data on 4746 middle (younger cohort) and high school (older cohort) students in 1998–9. EAT-II (Time 2) resurveyed 2516 of the original cohort in 2003–4. All analyses were run separately by age cohort and sex. The relationship between dietary patterns identified previously (vegetable, fruit, vegetable & fruit, starchy food, sweet & salty snack food, and fast food) and weight status was examined using logistic regression. All analyses were adjusted for socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity and activity level (longitudinal analyses were also adjusted for baseline weight status). In cross-sectional analyses, higher adherence to dietary patterns loading heavily on vegetables was associated with lower risk of overweight/obese weight status in older and younger girls, whereas higher adherence to a ‘sweet & salty snack food’ pattern was associated with lower risk in older and younger boys. These associations were found prospectively in older boys and girls, but were no longer significant in analyses adjusting for baseline weight status. We did not find consistent or intuitive associations between dietary patterns and weight status. Identified patterns may not capture the elements of diet that are truly important in determining adolescent weight, or diet may not be the primary driver in determining weight status at this age. Methodological difficulties in assessing diet must also be taken into consideration.
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