This project is an extension of the CDC-funded FORWARD (Fragile X Online Registry With Accessible Research Database) study. From its inception in 2010, the goal of the FORWARD study has been to characterize the natural history of fragile X syndrome (FXS). This current extension project is known as FORWARD-MARCH (Multiple Assessments for Research CHaracterization) because it will include multiple assessments to characterize behavioral, adaptive, and cognitive function in greater depth and thereby further improve understanding of the natural history of FXS. FORWARD-MARCH continues the mission of FORWARD to better understand the natural history of FXS in order to improve the lives of children and adolescents with FXS and the lives of their families. FORWARD-MARCH will also better define trajectories of development in FXS that will be useful in understanding the long-term effects of an intervention relative to the natural history of FXS.
FORWARD-MARCH builds upon the foundation of the FORWARD study. The FORWARD study included 24 participating FXS specialty clinics throughout the US that are members of the FXCRC (Fragile X Clinical & Research Consortium). The FORWARD study worked closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Fragile X Foundation (NFXF), and other stakeholders in the FXS community. FORWARD-MARCH will also involve a contractor, Chickasaw Nation Industries (CNI), funded through a contract with the CDC. CNI will assist in data collection and management.
Between September 2022 and August 2026, FORWARD-MARCH expects to enroll at least 600 individuals with fragile X syndrome who were born between 2003-2017. The majority of these individuals will already be FORWARD study participants, enabling researchers to conduct longitudinal analyses incorporating previously collected data. Cognitive, behavioral, and adaptive function will be assessed using parent or caregiver-completed surveys and in-person clinical assessments. After completion of data collection, deidentified data will be securely maintained at CDC and will be an important long-term resource for analyses of the natural history of FXS.
Previous phases of the FORWARD study, conducted between 2012 and 2022, have received IRB review and approval by the institutions of each participating clinic. These previous phases of the study did not require review by a CDC IRB, as CDC had no participant contact and did not have access to personal identifying information (PII). The extension of the FORWARD study covered in this protocol (FORWARD-MARCH, 2022-2026) will continue to be reviewed and approved by the institutions of each participating clinic conducting data collection. However, review and approval are also being sought from the CDC IRB because PII will be maintained on CDC servers and because CDC's contractor, CNI, will regularly have access to PII and interact directly with study participants. A reliance agreement allowing CNI to rely on CDC's IRB is being developed and will be executed before data collection is begun. To clarify which aspects of the protocol involve CDC and CNI staff (rather than just clinic staff), sections 3,4 and 5 of this protocol document each end with a subsection that specifically focuses on the role of CDC and CNI staff.