Penn Medicine News
PHILADELPHIA – The National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has renewed its funding to the Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology (CEET), at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, for the next five years. This grant will continue CEET’s work serving the environmental health needs of southeastern Pennsylvania, building on ten years of excellence in environmental health research at Penn. The new grant totals over $8.0 million. CEET was established in 2004 with a four-year, $4.1 million grant from NIEHS to study the effects of environmental pollutants on human health.
CEET is one of only 20 designated Environmental Health Science Core Centers in the United States and the first in Pennsylvania. It is a partnership between research scientists and communities, and its main charge is to better understand how environmental exposures lead to disease. Understanding these processes can lead to early diagnosis, intervention, and prevention strategies.
“This new award allows us to continue to build environmental health research at Penn so that we remain an elite, competitive institution in this area,” says Trevor Penning, PhD, CEET director and professor of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics.
“The synergistic combination of basic and clinician-scientists allows CEET to conduct high-impact, translational environmental health sciences research,” added Reynold Panettieri, MD, CEET deputy director and professor of Pulmonary Medicine. “This award will allow for better studies in environmental health science and designing precision therapy for vulnerable individuals.”
Through CEET’s Community Outreach and Engagement Core, environmental health questions raised by the community are translated into research questions to be addressed by CEET investigator teams. Using this approach, CEET supports the Penn Superfund Research Center, which studies the remediation, transport, and fate of asbestos at the BoRIT superfund site in West Ambler, Pa.; and mechanisms of how asbestos mediates its adverse health effects including mesothelioma.
Using similar approaches, CEET investigators are also tackling the health consequences of hydraulic fracturing and the impact of urban air pollution in Philadelphia.
Overall, CEET provides the tools for faculty to conduct cutting-edge environmental health research by maintaining the following assets:
- Integrative Health Sciences Facility Core for human subject studies
- Translational Biomarker Core to measure biomarkers of exposure and effect
- Informatics Core to integrate genetic and metabolic biological data with the physiological affects of exposure to environmental toxins
- “Affinity”groups – teams of scientists that address environmental health problems. The Lung and Airway Disease Affinity Group addresses diseases associated with poor air quality, ozone, PM2.5 and asbestos exposure; the Oxidative Stress and Oxidative Stress Injury Affinity Group elucidates how environmental exposures exacerbate oxidative stress and inflammation; the Reproduction, Endocrinology & Development Group studies how environmental exposures act at windows of susceptibility to cause defects fromconception to adulthood; and the Gene-Environment Interactions Group determines how environmental exposures confer disease risk due to differences in the genome and epigenome.