Toward the assessment of scientific and public health impacts of the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences extramural asthma research program using available data

Edward Liebow, Jerry Phelps, Bennett Van Houten, Shyanika Rose, Carlyns Orians, Jennifer Cohen, Philip Monroe, Christina H. Drew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: In the past 15 years, asthma prevalence has increased and its disproportionately distributed among children, minorities, and low-income persons. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Division of Extramural Research and Training developed a framework to measure the scientific and health impacts of its extramural asthma research to improve the scientific basis for reducing the health effects of asthma. Objectives: Here we apply the framework to characterize the NIEHS asthma portfolio's impact in terms of publications, clinical applications of findings, community interventions, and technology developments. Methods: A logic model was tailored to inputs, outputs, and outcomes of the NIEHS asthma portfolio. Data from existing National Institutes of Health (NIH) databases are used, along with publicly available bibliometric data and structured elicitation of expert judgement. Results: NIEHS is the third largest source of asthma related research grant funding within the NIH between 1975 and 2005, after the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Much of NIEHS-funded asthma research focuses on basic research, but results are often published in journals focused on clinical investigation, increasing the likelihood that the work is moved into practice along the "bench to bedside" continuum NIEHS support has led to key breakthroughs in scientific research concerning susceptibility to asthma, environmental conditions that heighten asthma symptoms, and cellular mechanisms that may be involved in treating asthma. Conclusions: If gaps and limitations in publicly available data receive adequate attention, further linkages can be demonstrated between research activities and public health improvements. This logic model approach to research impact assessment demonstrates that it is possible to conceptualize program components, mine existing databases, and high begin to show longer-term impacts of program results. The next challenges will be to modify current data structures, improve the linkages among relevant databases, incorporate as much electronically available data as possible, and determine how to improve the quality and health impact of the science that we support.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1147-1154
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2009


  • Asthma
  • Children
  • Evaluation methodology
  • Health impact analysis
  • Minorities
  • Policy
  • Pulmonary organ systems/disease processes
  • Susceptible populations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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