ACHRI Congenital Heart Defect Study Funding Renewed at Over $6 Million

NICHD funding of a study of congenital heart defects has been renewed for five years

LITTLE ROCK, AR (May 2, 2012) - The Arkansas Children's Hospital Research Institute (ACHRI) has received a Notice of Award for the competitive renewal of their research project, "Genomic and Epigenomic Factors Associated with Non-Syndromic Congenital Heart Defects," a project focused on determining the causes of congenital heart defects.

This renewal will allow for another five years of funding provided by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), representing 15 years of consecutive funding for this project led by Charlotte Hobbs, MD, PhD. The total five-year award is projected at $6,219,162.

"Every year in the United States about 40,000 babies are born with congenital heart defects which may result in multiple surgical procedures, prolonged hospitalizations and early death," Hobbs said "For most of these cases, environmental and lifestyle factors interact with genetic and epigenetic phenomena to cause malformations in the developing heart. We understand the challenges and complexity of our task, but we are confident that our multi-institutional team will successfully complete our research objectives. Our hope is that through our studies and those of scientists across the world, we will someday be able to prevent many heart defects by first identifying and then modifying underlying causes. By applying some of the most technologically advanced tools and approaches, funding from the NICHD will allow us to continue our search for causes. Our ultimate goal is to optimize the chances that all babies are born healthy."

This funding will allow the ACHRI to conduct a genetic epidemiology five-year project that will involve genotyping of over 10,000 DNA samples and identifying epigenetic profiles of over 500 maternal and infant dyads to identify risk factors for obstructive heart defects. The knowledge that will be generated as a result will bring greater understanding of the complex etiology of congenital heart defects and will provide a foundation for public health and clinical prevention programs.

Dr. Hobbs will lead a team of investigators and consultants from the faculty of University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), Stanford University, University of California in San Fransisco, University of Iowa, University of Iowa Children's Hospital, Columbia University and University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Hobbs is a professor and chief of the Birth Defects Research Section in the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Pediatrics.

For more information on this project, contact the Arkansas Children's Hospital Research Institute at 501-364-7373.

Arkansas Children's Hospital is the only pediatric medical center in Arkansas and one of the largest in the United States serving children from birth to age 21. The campus is celebrating 100 years of providing Care, Love and Hope in 2012. Over the past century, ACH has grown to span 29 city blocks and house 316 beds, a staff of approximately 500 physicians, 80 residents in pediatrics and pediatric specialties and more than 4,000 employees. The private, nonprofit healthcare facility boasts an internationally renowned reputation for medical breakthroughs and intensive treatments, unique surgical procedures and forward-thinking medical research - all dedicated to fulfilling our mission of enhancing, sustaining and restoring children's health and development. For more information, visit

UAMS is the state's only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Related Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. Named best Little Rock metropolitan area hospital by U.S. News & World Report, it is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has more than 2,800 students and 775 medical residents. It is the state's largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 1,000 physicians and other professionals who provide care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children's Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS' Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. Visit or

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