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DSFederal RCDC team members honored with NIH Director's Awards

Samantha LeDuc, Brock Heller, and Nancy Praskievicz

DSFederal Project Manager and Senior Scientific Information Analyst Nancy Praskievicz, and Scientific Information Analysts Samantha LeDuc and Brock Heller received Director’s Awards at today’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) awards ceremony. Nancy, Samantha, and Brock support the NIH Research, Condition, and Disease Categorization (RCDC) program, which provides consistent and transparent reporting to the public about NIH-funded research, including complete lists of all NIH-funded projects related to each category.

Nancy, Samantha, and Brock were nominated by NICHD for their work in response to a Congressionally mandated Task Force on Pregnant and Lactating Women, to identify the current state of NIH research areas that include this population. As Nancy explains, much of the existing research on effective therapies and treatments for many health conditions does not account for the needs of pregnant or lactating women. NICHD Deputy Director Dr. Catherine Spong says, “When clinical studies omit pregnant women and nursing mothers, healthcare providers are left without evidence-based research to inform care decisions.” In the absence of research on the safety of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, Nancy says, doctors have “erred on the side of caution” when recommending treatment to pregnant and breastfeeding women, which may ultimately result in more harm to the mother or baby.

At the request of NICHD, Nancy, Brock, and Samantha developed three new research categories on maternal health, pregnancy, and breastfeeding that will help NICHD—and NIH as a whole—fund research to identify safe and effective therapies for pregnant and lactating women.

DSFederal delivers technical solutions for Federal programs, with a special emphasis on health and medical research, and efforts to improve clinical care and health outcomes, especially for underserved populations. For example, the Healthy Start Monitoring and Evaluation Database, which we developed for the HRSA Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) Healthy Start program, allows the program to measure outcomes and monitor the program’s impact in real time. We provide development support for the Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) website and Compliance Activities Tracking System (CATS), delivering enhanced capabilities that have streamlined OHRP’s reporting process, thus improving its ability to investigate cases and protect human research subjects. Our technical and analytical services for the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP), including custom databases and the proprietary Ebola Review Tool (ERT), help ASPR to identify trends and measure program effectiveness.

Nancy writes, “We are extremely honored to be a part of this amazing venture, since this is such a major area of research that needs to be addressed. We need to ensure the safety of this population by making sure that therapies, and even dietary supplements, are safe for mothers and babies.” Congratulations to Nancy, Samantha, and Brock!


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