Dr. Mary Regina Boland is currently an Associate Director of Masters in Biomedical Informatics Program and tenure-track Assistant Professor of Informatics in the Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology & Informatics in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Boland is also an Affiliate Member of the Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology and is part of our Windows of Susceptibility Core. Dr. Boland’s research with CEET focuses on the development new methods to integrate data from many different sources, including electronic health records, observational health data, and genetic data.
Dr. Boland’s most recent work has focused on hydraulic fracturing wells. Hydraulic fracturing is a controversial drilling method used to extract oil or natural gas from deep in the Earth by injecting water, chemicals, and sand into the ground at high pressure. This method is controversial because hydraulic fracturing wells have the potential to leak toxic chemicals into the water system. This is especially worrisome because the chemicals used in the fracking process of extremely diverse and sometimes unknown.
Along with a team of researchers, Dr. Boland and a stellar student Owen Wetherbee developed a platform called Well Explorer. This platform allows users to find hydraulic fracturing well sites near them and learn about the chemical ingredients used at these sites. In addition to providing the ingredients used at each well, Well Explorer also links these ingredients to genes, proteins, and hormonal pathways, as well as national toxin rankings and databases.
This tool was designed to be used by both researchers and community members. Researchers can utilize Well Explorer to study health outcomes related to exposure to fracturing chemicals and community members can use this resource to search their home or work locations to determine proximity between where they live or work and specific hormonal exposures. This is an useful, free resource to learn more about wells in the community.
Visit our new CEC webpage to learn how to download the Well Explorer app, see the videos that explain how to use the app’s features, and potential ways community members can use information from the app.