A $12.5 million dollar donation from toy maker Hasbro’s founding family will help launch a new institute at Brown University to study children’s health. The collaboration with local hospitals will focus on new approaches to kids’ most urgent health problems.
The early focus of the new institute will be to dig deeper into the drivers behind asthma, autism, and obesity. Hasbro Children’s Hospital pediatrician-in-chief Dr. Phyllis Dennery will help lead the effort.
"In the first year of the Hassenfeld Child Health Innovation Institute, we’ll begin to gather health care data from all over the state," said Dennery, "deploying high tech methods to detect hotspots where children disproportionately suffer from health issues.”
Researchers will recruit and follow hundreds of children and families to participate in the studies. Brown University and local hospitals hope to capitalize on Rhode Island’s small size, which makes it the perfect laboratory. Women and Infants chief of obstetrics and gynecology Dr. Maureen Phipps says researchers will start by recruiting pregnant women.
“Starting with our three initial focus areas, autism, asthma, healthy weight and lifestyle," Phipps said, "we will work together to establish a birth cohort, which will involve women in the prenatal period, which we will follow through pregnancy, and then woman and her child to follow them through growth and development.”
The $12.5 million dollar donation from former Hasbro CEO Alan Hassenfeld will be matched by Brown University.
The new institute begins its work in 2016.