New Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital Receives Significant NIH Funding

August 9, 2022

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital recently received coveted P50 Center grant funding from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to support a new center focused on suicide prevention. The award provides $14 million over five years.

The Center for Accelerating Suicide Prevention in Real-world Settings (ASPIRES) aims to accelerate the development and use of effective interventions to reduce suicide in children and adolescents. ASPIRES will extend work being conducted in the hospital’s Center for Suicide Prevention and Research (CSPR) and within Nationwide Children's Behavioral Health Services. Jeff Bridge, PhD, director, CSPR and Cynthia Fontanella, PhD, a principal investigator in CSPR, will lead the new center which includes thirteen investigators.

P50 Center grants from the NIH provide funding to support programs comprised of integrated research teams to study a variety of subjects within a central scientific theme. They typically consist of specialized core functions and multiple integrated research projects.

ASPIRES will initially encompass four projects:

  1. Signature Project: Stepped Approach to Reducing Risk of Suicide in Primary Care (STARRS-PC)
    Pediatric primary care is recognized as an important setting for youth suicide prevention, yet most clinicians in pediatric primary care settings do not routinely screen for suicide risk. This project will study the effectiveness of a population-based quality improvement (QI) intervention, “Stepped Approach to Reducing Risk of Suicide in Primary Care (STARRS-PC),” that implements a clinical pathway for youth at elevated risk for suicide.
  2. Exploratory Project: Acceptability, Feasibility, and Appropriateness of a System of Suicide Prevention Services for Youth with a Parental History of Suicide Attempt
    A major risk factor for early onset suicidal behavior in children is a parental history of suicide attempt (PH+). This study will attempt to identify specific characteristics of PH+ youth; determine best interventions  for those children; and examine acceptability, feasibility, and appropriateness of the proposed interventions.
  3. Exploratory Project: Intensive Crisis Intervention (ICI)
    In many communities, the demand for, and limited access to, inpatient psychiatric care has created a need for other options to provide short-term crisis intervention and stabilization in a secure setting. This project group has developed Intensive Crisis Intervention (ICI), which focuses on reducing suicidal behavior in high acuity at-risk youth. This study will refine and pilot test ICI to examine preliminary acceptability and effectiveness of ICI in comparison to traditional inpatient treatment.
  4. Exploratory Project: Safer Still
    An interactive intervention, called “Safer Still,” will be developed to help promote safe storage of firearms. Through technology, Safer Still will promote safe firearm storage in a sample of parents of adolescents at high risk for suicide, and who own firearms and have acknowledged unsafe household storage practices. A study will be conducted to test the effectiveness of Safer Still, while also collecting data related to the potential use of the program in real-world settings.

“This grant funding is testament to the innovative and essential work of our behavioral health research, clinical and prevention teams. P50 Center awards are rare and highly challenging to receive,” notes Dennis Durbin, MD, MSCE, president, Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children's. “It’s been well established that child mental illness in the U.S. is a health crisis, so Nationwide Children's has made pediatric and adolescent behavioral health a priority. The ASPIRES center is one more way we plan to address the significant mental health needs of children here in central Ohio and across the country.”

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About Nationwide Children's Hospital

Named to the Top 10 Honor Roll on U.S. News & World Report’s 2021-22 list of “Best Children’s Hospitals,” Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of America’s largest not-for-profit free-standing pediatric health care systems providing unique expertise in pediatric population health, behavioral health, genomics and health equity as the next frontiers in pediatric medicine, leading to best outcomes for the health of the whole child. Integrated clinical and research programs, as well as prioritizing quality and safety, are part of what allows Nationwide Children’s to advance its unique model of care. Nationwide Children’s has a staff of more than 13,000 that provides state-of-the-art wellness, preventive and rehabilitative care and diagnostic treatment during more than 1.6 million patient visits annually. As home to the Department of Pediatrics of The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Nationwide Children’s physicians train the next generation of pediatricians and pediatric specialists. The Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of the Top 10 National Institutes of Health-funded free-standing pediatric research facilities. More information is available at NationwideChildrens.org.