NICHD Pediatric Trauma and Critical Illness Branch

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of ChildHealth and Human Development (NICHD) was established by President John F. Kennedy n 1962 to better understand processes of human development and how they affect health from preconception through adulthood. Over the course of its 50 year history, the NICHD has continued to advance scientific knowledge to further its mission to help children have the chance to achieve their full potential for healthy and productive lives, free from injury, disease or disability.

I joined the NICHD family to contribute to this important mission. Initially my work focused on efforts to understand the impact of exposure to various types of violence on children’s development.

Some of the research we support helps us understand the traumatic experience of child maltreatment and how it affects children not only in terms of the associated injuries, but also how it affects a child’s ability to make friends, perform well in school and establish productive relationships later in life. We also support prevention and intervention research efforts that address global violence, trauma and injury.

Through a visioning process, the NICHD listened to the community of researchers, practitioners and advocates to identify additional priorities that we could undertake over the next 10 years. An outcome of this process was that a new Branch was needed to focus specifically on critically ill and injured children.

In 2012, the Pediatric Trauma and Critical Illness Branchwas established and I was named Chief in late 2013. The goal of the Branch is to look at the continuum of influences on child health outcomes. So, we not only focus on the prevention of childhood injury and trauma, but we also study processes that help critically ill and vulnerable children reach their highest potential in life.

To accomplish this goal, we plan to hold a series of meetings to help us identify important priorities that we will address over the next 3- 5 years. We have already held a scientific meeting on such important issues as abusive head trauma. We are very excited about a conference we held in April that shed light on the special health care needs of children in military families.

Most importantly, we will collaborate with our colleagues and partners to call attention to help us achieve the NICHD mission to have children live free of disease or disability and lead productive lives.

Dr. Valerie Maholmes, Chief of NICHD Pediatric Trauma and Critical Illness Branch

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