About the CEET

The CEET is a regional resource. It is the only Environmental Health Sciences Core Center in the Commonwealth of PA, and also geographically serves US EPA Region III (Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, DC, Virginia and West Virginia).

The CEET prides itself in working with Communities within the region to help identify environmental health questions of concern and mobilizing the research expertise of the Center to answer those questions.

The CEET is a flexible entity that marshals excellence in basic, translational, patient-oriented and population-based research to facilitate an integrative approach to environmental health/medicine. Although primarily housed in the Perelman School of Medicine, the 71 CEET Investigators belong to 18 departments and 5 schools at the University of Pennsylvania and the  Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The CEET marries its relevant research excellence to diseases of environmental etiology that affect the region. The CEET has an Affinity Group in Lung and Airway Disease (asthma, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and mesothelioma) because of the air pollution (ozone, fine particulate matter, allergens, SO2, NO2 and CO emissions) and exposure to asbestos that exists in the region. The CEET is a recipient of a Superfund Research Program: Asbestos, Fate, Exposure, Remediation and Adverse Health Effects” P42 ES023720 which addresses the environmental and environmental health impact of asbestos exposure in Ambler. Its Affinity Group in Oxidative Stress and Oxidative Stress Injury addresses mechanisms by which environmental pollutants cause this injury which is linked to disease in each major organ. The CEET also has an Affinity Group in Reproduction, Endocrinology, and Development because of the windows of susceptibility that exist from conception through adulthood and how these may be affected by environmental exposures. The Affinity group in Gene-Environment Interactions investigates how genetics affect individual susceptibility to environmental exposures and how environmental exposures affect patterns of gene expression which we call epigenetics.

The CEET enables its investigators to conduct research through its Facility Cores:

The Integrated Health Sciences Facility Core (IHSFC) of the CEET provides assistance with a broad range of transdisciplinary services including  human study design, enrollment of research subjects, population exposures using GIS, cartography, biosensors and wearables, data management, access to human biospecimens, biostatistical and geospatial analyses and interpretation of results.

The Translational Biomarker Core (TBC) of the CEET enables CEET investigators to measure biomarkers of exposure and effect. Biomarkers of effect can be used to predict disease susceptibility, onset, progression and response to therapy. By measuring these on the individual basis the CEET is positioned to conduct Precision Public Health.

The CEET Exposure Biology Informatics Core (EBIC) of the Center enables CEET investigators to integrate big-data into knowledge providing expertise in chemoinformatics, bioinformatics to integrate “omics” data, and biomedical informatics to extract clinical information from Electronic Health Records.

The Community Engagement Core (CEC)  translates research findings of the Center to target Pennsylvania Communities, health care professionals, and decision makers to improve public health. Bi-directional communication identifies critical environmental health problems and helps set the research agenda of CEET using community engaged research approaches with input from a Stakeholders Advisory Board.

The CEET also disseminates its research findings to all stakeholders including community organizations, local, state and federal officials and agencies (Pennsylvania Department of Health, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and Environmental Protection Agency) to affect change in environmental health and public health policies.

CEET Director

Trevor M. Penning, Ph.D.

Dr. Trevor M. Penning, the Thelma Brown and Henry Charles Molinoff Professor of Pharmacology, Professor of Biochemistry & Biophysics and Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology, is Director of the CEET and was the founding director of the Center in 2006. He formulated the strategic vision of the CEET from its inception and built the environmental health science identity of the CEET at the University, regional, and national level. He represents the CEET at the School, University, local, state, and federal levels and advocates the CEET mission.

Dr. Penning has extensive administrative experience. He was Interim Chair of Pharmacology (1994-1996), he was Associate Dean for Postdoctoral Research Training (1997-2005), and he developed a national model for postdoctoral training by forming Biomedical Postdoctoral Programs (BPP) in 2001. BPP oversaw the appointments and training of 850 postdoctoral fellows. Throughout this time, Dr. Penning was P.I. on three R01 grants and a P01 grant, which attest to his ability to effectively manage time and resources. Dr. Penning was Chair-Elect, Chair, and Past Chair of the Graduate Research, Education, and Training (GREAT) group of the American Association of Medical Colleges  (2005-2007). In his tenure, he developed the COMPACT between postdoctoral researchers and their mentors, which gained national acceptance. He was recipient of the National Postdoctoral Association Distinguished Service Award in 2010.

Dr. Penning is an international expert in mechanisms of hormonal and chemical carcinogenesis and the role of Aldo-Keto Reductases and is one of the most cited authors in the area of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon carcinogenesis. He has published more than 250 peer-reviewed publications. He has served on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Chemical Research in Toxicology, and is currently on the Editorial Boards of Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Molecular & Cellular Endocrinology and Steroids. He is also Senior Editor, Cancer Research in Population and Prevention Science. He has served as consultant to the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer. He was the recipient of the Albert Ethelbert Ebert Prize and Medal awarded by the American Pharmaceutical Association in 1988. He received a Career Development Award from the National Cancer Institute in 1988. Ten years later, Dr. Penning was elected to The Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars. In 2010, he was elected as a Fellow of the American Chemical Society and he was identified as being one of the most prolific authors in Chemical Research in Toxicology in 2017. In 2019 he received the Founders Award from the Division of Chemical Toxicology, American Chemical Society for his scientific accomplishments.