The History of Project Viva

Project Viva is a ground breaking longitudinal research study of women and children that initiated in Eastern Massachusetts in 1999. The goal of Project Viva is to find ways to improve the health of mothers and their children by looking at the effects of mother's diet as well as other factors during pregnancy and after birth. The information we collect enables us to investigate, for example, the effects of diet on child development and obesity, how diet and the environment influence the development of asthma in children. These are just a few of the many things Project Viva is exploring, thanks to the dedicated women and their children who enrolled in the study.

Project Viva was started by Principal Investigator Matthew W. Gillman, MD, SM and his colleagues who were intrigued by the notion, then just emerging, that what happens very early in life - even before birth - can have effects on the health of infants, children, and adults. In 1998, Dr. Gillman implented a successful pilot study. With the financial support from the NIH, Project Viva officially began enrolling pregnant women in April of 1999.

Between 1999 and 2002, Project Viva staff members enrolled a total of 2,128 moms who delivered singleton babies. Today, almost two decades later, over 1600 mother-child pairs are still actively engaged in Project Viva research! Project Viva mothers completed in-person examinations during pregnancy, throughout childhood and into the early teen years. Project Viva staffers are now asking mother-teen pairs to complete the Project Viva Mid-Teen Visit. See what to expect at the Mid-Teen Visit.

Project Viva is currently led by Co-Principal Investigators Emily Oken, MD, MPH and Marie-France Hivert, MD, MMSc. The study is funded primarily by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). The study is based in the Department of Population Medicine, jointly sponsored by Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.