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An Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes viewpoint of data analysis centers for collaborative study designs

Jacobson, Lisa, P.a; Lau, Bryana; Catellier, Dianeb; Parker, Corette, B.b

Current Opinion in Pediatrics: April 2018 - Volume 30 - Issue 2 - p 269–275
doi: 10.1097/MOP.0000000000000602

Purpose of review A highly complex collaborative study design that pools and extends existing studies, such as the Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program, requires a Data Analysis Center (DAC) with resources and expertise to create a secure environment for housing and analyzing the shared data, harmonize and structure the shared data for different purposes, and apply appropriate and innovative designs and analytic methods. The DAC, in partnership with cohort investigators, must ensure that results from ECHO-wide cohort analyses are appropriately interpreted and reproducible.

Recent findings Understanding the cohorts contributing to ECHO is critical for developing a collaborative environment and the methods to best analyze the data without bias. We further describe the development of the ECHO-wide cohort Metadata Catalog, the architecture of the ECHO-wide cohort data platform, and analytical approaches to facilitate early productivity.

Summary The ECHO DAC has established a secure environment for the transfer and storage of ECHO cohort data and information, and initiated processes to promote productive collaborations. Understanding the ECHO DAC responsibilities and assets will help to overcome communication and trust challenges encountered in the initiation of this complex ECHO-wide cohort collaborative research study.

aJohns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland

bRTI International, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA

Correspondence to Lisa P. Jacobson, ScD, ScM, Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 N. Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA. Tel: +1 410 502 9770; e-mail:

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