Yale’s School of Public Health (YSPH) has received a significant twofold boost in the form of an $11 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and a $10.7 million grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). The NIMH funding provides five years of support to HIV/AIDS prevention and health services at the school’s Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS (CIRA). The grant from NICHD adds to a $15 million grant from the same agency in 2007 to support Yale’s role in a national study that will follow 100,000 children from before birth to age 21 to understand factors that contribute to their health and development.

Established in 1997, CIRA is one of eight HIV/AIDS research centers in the United States funded by the NIMH. The new grant follows on the heels of a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that revealed higher estimates of new HIV infections in the United States than previously calculated, and that emphasized the need for more rigorous study of interventions for HIV prevention domestically and abroad.

The new round of NIMH funding will allow the center to broaden its scope beyond prevention to include research in the realm of clinical health services. Research at CIRA also will increasingly reflect the globalization of the HIV/AIDS pandemic while allowing the center to maintain its local and Connecticut-based collaborations.

“We are very excited about the new award, because it will allow us to build on CIRA’s historic strengths and forge new programs that are responsive to changes in both the pandemic and the scientific community,” says Paul Cleary, Ph.D., director and principal investigator for CIRA and YSPH dean.

The NICHD grant will enable the YSPH to increase its participation in the National Children’s Study, a large-scale examination of factors that contribute to the health and development of children under the age of 21. The study, believed to be the largest of its kind ever launched, is a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, designed to seek information that can help prevent and treat some of the nation’s most pressing health problems, including autism, birth defects, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Under the direction of principal investigators Michael B. Bracken, Ph.D., M.P.H., the Susan B. Dwight Professor of Epidemiology, and Kathleen Belanger, Ph.D., research scientist in epidemiology, the Yale Center for Perinatal, Pediatric and Environmental Epidemiology is participating in the study in collaboration with the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences and the Department of Pediatrics.