The ECHO program of NIH recently announced that former Human Subjects & Sampling Core Trainee Stephanie Eick is among 9 others who received an award for the ECHO Opportunities and Infrastructure Fund (OIF). The OIF is an NIH-funded grants mechanism for early investigators to support projects for the introduction of new research, tools, and technologies in the ECHO Program. This project study will include data from 4 cohorts, including PROTECT.

Stephanie’s project, titled “Oxidative Stress and Inflammation Biomarkers in Relation to Birth Outcomes in Four ECHO Cohorts,” will expand on much of the research that she accomplished during PROTECT. This particular study feeds off of the published work started within the HSSC on socioeconomic disadvantage and how it leads to elevated levels of oxidative stress. In addition to publishing impactful studies, Stephanie was also awarded the KC Donnelly Externship while at PROTECT.


The goal of her project is to characterize biological pathways for preterm birth in four ECHO birth cohorts by applying a novel method to quantify the proportion of 8-isoprostane-prostaglandin-F(8‑iso‑PGF) derived from oxidative stress and inflammation pathways using the ratio of 8‑iso‑PGF to prostaglandin-F (PGF). The specific aims of this project include evaluating the association between race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and stressful life events and oxidative stress and inflammation biomarkers during pregnancy as well as determining if elevated oxidative stress and inflammation biomarkers in the second and third trimester are associated with increased risk of spontaneous and overall preterm birth.

The first aim is particularly significant for ECHO, as preterm birth is an important ECHO outcome and an enormous public health burden. Additionally, the proposal’s focus on oxidative stress and inflammation is in line with the importance of these pathways related to environmental exposures, and has the potential to provide insight on several environmental exposure related health outcomes. Other positive characteristics of this proposal include its use of geographic and racially diverse cohorts and the novel use of the ratio of 8-iso-PGF2α and PGF2α to quantify the proportion of oxidative stress and inflammation pathways in the context of preterm birth.

We are proud to see Stephanie continue to thrive in her research career, and can’t wait to see what she does in the future.