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 59 CEET Investigators belong to 20 departments and 6 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 study design, enrollment of research subjects, human and population exposures, data management, access to biological samples, biostatistical analyses, interpretation of results, and manuscript preparation.

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 level the CEET is positioned to conduct Precision Environmental Medicine (PREEM).

The CEET Exposure Biology Informatics Core (EBIC) of the Center enables CEET  investigators to integrate large scale genomic sets of data with biomarker data.

The CEET works with and disseminates research findings to select local communities to empower them with new knowledge so that they are better informed to tackle issues of health disparities and environmental justice. To improve the environmental health of these and similar affected communities, the CEET is actively involved in the education of health care professionals (Residency Program in Occupational and Environmental Health and Masters of Public Health Programs).

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.


Trevor M. Penning, Ph.D., is the Thelma Brown and Henry Charles Molinoff Professor of Pharmacology, Dept. of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics, Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics and OB/GYN and is the Director of the Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology (CEET) at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. Dr. Penning was Director of the Office of Postdoctoral Programs, and Associate Dean for Postdoctoral Research Training, School of Medicine from 1997-2001, and was founder Director of Biomedical Postdoctoral Programs (BPP) from 2001-2005. As Director of BPP, he oversaw the appointments, training and education of 850 postdoctoral fellows across the Schools of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, and Dental Medicine.

Dr. Penning is internationally recognized for his research on steroid hormone enzymology and mechanisms by which polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons cause cancer. His research is now focused on the emerging role of Aldo-Keto Reductases (AKRs) in hormonal and chemical carcinogenesis. He has published over 250 peer-review articles and is the recipient of five U.S. patent applications. 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 was elected to the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars in 1998. He is a consultant to the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer. He was elected Fellow of the American Chemical Society in 2010. He is past Chair, Division of Chemical Toxicology of the American Chemical Society.