Director: Kenneth Reuhl, Ph.D., D.A.B.T.
The Pilot Project Program: the Heart of the NIEHS Center
The mission of the Pilot Project program is to allow investigators to generate data in support of new hypotheses, collaborations, and areas of research, with the goal of converting these preliminary data into peer reviewed funding. CEED encourages interdisciplinary approaches to environmental health sciences, and actively solicits Rutgers researchers from toxicology, biology, environmental medicine, nutrition, and many other science and medical fields, to collaborate on pilot project proposals.
Pilot funding advances the Center by supporting high-risk high-return research, seeding new research collaborations, encouraging investigators not affiliated with the Center to incorporate environmental health into their research efforts, and supporting junior faculty with an interest in environmental health research. Investigators new to the field of environmental health are encouraged to collaborate with or use Center members as consultants when submitting Pilot grants. In this way, Pilot studies lead to new collaborations within CEED. In addition, since these grants are often one of the first sources of research funding for junior faculty and new clinical researchers, they are powerful incentives attracting these investigators to environmental health research.
CEED Environmental Health Pilot Projects: Proposals due March 15, 2018
The Center for Environmental Exposure and Disease (CEED) at Rutgers University requests proposals for Pilot Project Grants, up to $20,000. The goal of this funding opportunity is to promote environmental research with the potential to improve human health.
Applications will be due on March 15, 2018. Award letters will be issued by May 1, 2018. All funds must be spent by March 1, 2019, at which time awardees must provide an interim progress report. Please see the attached Pilot Project Announcement for details.
Inquiries to be directed to:
Kimi Nakata, MPH, MSSW, NIEHS Center Administrator
PHONE – (848) 445-0194 FAX – (732) 445-0922
Click on the headings below to see summaries of current and past pilot projects:
2017-18 Pilot Projects
Developing Novel Sensors for Measurement of Pb In Populations at Risk of Exposure
- Principal Investigator: Brian Buckley, Rutgers-Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, Chemical Analysis
- Co-Investigator: Gedi Mainelis, Rutgers-SEBS, Environmental Sciences
- Hypothesis: Next Gen (small, inexpensive, field transportable) technologies can be adapted to measure Pb (lead) in air particulate as well as blood for eventual deployment in human exposure studies within a superfund or similar funded project.
Carcinogenesis of head and neck tumors among World Trade Center rescue and recovery workers; a feasibility study
- Principal Investigator: Judith Graber, Rutgers-SPH, Epidemiology
- Co-Investigator: Mark Einstein, Rutgers-NJ Medical School, OB/GYN & Women’s Health
- Hypothesis: Biomarker testing (global DNA methylation and HPV-genotyping) of bio-banked oropharyngeal (OP) tumor tissue from WTC exposed and un-exposed cases is feasible and will provide critical information to design a future definitive study of carcinogenesis among World Trade Center exposed populations.
Role of the FRY-AS 1 long noncoding RNA (IncRNA) in Suppression of NMU-induced Mammary Carcinogenesis
- Principal Investigator: Helmut Zarbl, Rutgers-SPH, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Co-Investigator: None
- Hypothesis: We hypothesize that the FRY_AS1 IncRNA inhibits mammary carcinogenesis by generating and/or degrading miRs that suppress Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT).
Variants of Surfactant Protein D Post-Exposure to Ozone and Cigarette Smoke
- Principal Investigator: Jared Radbel, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Dept. of Medicine
- Co-Investigator: Howard Kipen, Rutgers-SPH, Environmental and Occupational Health; Andrew Gow, Rutgers-EMSOP, Pharmacology and Toxicology
- Hypothesis: Humans exposed to ozone and cigarette smoke have elevated nitrosylated surfactant protein D/surfactant protein D and oxidized, cross-linked surfactant protein D/surfactant protein D ratios in pulmonary secretions compared to non-exposed humans. Nitrosylated and oxidized surfactant protein D variants promote macrophage inflammatory activity which contributes to ozone toxicity.
Preliminary investigation of Potential Mercury Exposure to children and teachers from rubber-like polyurethane floors in schools (mini-pilot)
- Principal Investigator: Michael Gochfeld, EOHSI
- Co-Investigator: Dan Fatton, NJ Work Environment Council
- Hypothesis: Rubber-like polyurethane flooring (RL-PU) has been installed in many schools. Mercury was used as a catalyst to achieve uniform curing of the material during installation. Off-gassing of mercury has been identified at one New Jersey School (Burlington) more than 20 years after installation, with levels occasionally exceeding various criteria levels set by the ATSDR and EPA. This is a potentially widespread, yet relatively unknown source of mercury exposure, both during use of the facility and upon removal and disposal.
2016-17 Pilot Projects
Renal Efflux Transporters as Modulators of Heavy Metal Toxicity
- Principal Investigator: Lauren Aleksunes: Rutgers-Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Pharmacology and Toxicology
- Co-Investigators: None
- Hypothesis: We hypothesize that kidney transporters excrete heavy metals, such as cadmium, into urine as a mechanism to protect against tubular injury. We propose that a reduction in transporter function enhances renal cadmium levels and increases sensitivity to nephrotoxicity.
- Long-term goal: Our long-term goals are to 1) determine whether renal transporters modulate cadmium efflux in vivo and 2) assess the ability of renal transporters to modulate cadmium toxicity using transgenic mice
Perfluoronate Serum Levels in Paulsboro Residents: A Cross Sectional Study
- Principal Investigator: Judith Graber, EOHSI
- Co-Investigators: Clifford Weisel, Panos Georgopoulos, Robert Laumbach: School of Public Health (SPH), Division of Environmental and Occupational Health; Marshall, Elizabeth: SPH, Epidemiology
- We will be able to develop a relationship with members of the Paulsboro community that will result in our understanding the concerns of the community, the community understanding our study goals, and the community support of, and participation in this pilot study.
- There will be detectable and varied serum concentrations of perfluoronated compounds (PFCs), including perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), which will:
- Be correlated with consumption of water from the Paulsboro community water system
- Be higher on average for study participants than age-sex- and race-similar NHANES participants
- Long-term goal: The long term goal of this research team is to establish a cohort to study the health effects, including physical and social, of industrial perfluoronated compounds (PFCs) water contamination in a diverse community.
- Principal Investigator: Jeffrey Laskin: Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Division of Toxicology
- Co-Investigators: Yi-Hua Jan, School of Public Health (SPH), Division of Environmental and Occupational Health
- Hypothesis: MeHg inhibits SPR in target tissues by binding to critical sulfhydryl-containing cysteine residues in the active site of the enzyme. This results in inhibition of enzyme activity which reduces BH4 production leading to inhibition of critical enzymes important in neuronal functioning.
- Long-term goal: We expect to find a link between exposure to MeHg and alterations in neurotransmitter and nitric oxide biosynthesis in a neuronal type cell line. This may provide insight into MeHg neurotoxicity.
Role of Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) α in Chlorine-induced Pulmonary Injury
- Principal Investigator: Rama Malaviya: Rutgers-Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Pharmacology and Toxicology
- Co-Investigators: Debra Laskin: Rutgers-Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Pharmacology and Toxicology
- Hypothesis: Chlorine gas is a highly reactive chemical known to cause severe oxidative injury to the lung. This is associated with a rapid and persistent infiltration of inflammatory macrophages into the lung. We hypothesize that tumor necrosis factor (TNF)α generated by inflammatory lung macrophages plays a key role in lung injury induced by chlorine, and that inhibition of TNFα will significantly mitigate chlorine toxicity.
- Long-term goal: To characterize our model of chlorine toxicity and then test the efficacy of anti-TNFa antibody treatment 30 min post chlorine exposure in mitigating lung injury; to determine how long anti-TNFa antibody treatment can be delayed after exposure, and with other studies, to provide the basis for moving this biologic forward towards FDA approval.
Effects of maternal exposures to OPFR on offspring energy homeostasis
- Principal Investigator: Troy A. Roepke, Rutgers-School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Animal Sciences
- Co-Investigators: Lauren Aleksunes: Rutgers-Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Pharmacology and Toxicology
- Hypothesis:Maternal exposures to common organophosphate flame-retardants (OPFR)such as triphenyl phosphate (TPP), tricresyl phosphate (TCP), and Tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl)phosphate (TDCPP) disrupts hypothalamic circuits and peripheral metabolic processes leading to obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes.
- Long-term goal: The long-term objective of this research project is to examine development effects of non-brominated flame-retardant (OPFR) exposure on homeostatic functions controlled by the hypothalamus, e.g., feeding, energy expenditure, and glucose tolerance. These effects may have significant public health implications since OPFR are common in the occupational and home environments.
Innate immune cell bioenergetics and activation after bariatric surgery: A comparison of adolescents and adults
- Principal Investigator: Anna M. Vetrano, Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Department of Pediatrics
- Co-Investigators: Yi-Horng Lee, Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Division of Pediatric Surgery, Department of Surgery
- Hypothesis:Bariatric surgery will cause improvements in monocyte activation potential and responses to mitochondrial and/or oxidative stress. These effects will differ in magnitude between adult and adolescent patients.
- Long-term goal:Obesity is a huge epidemic in the United States and it is widely acknowledged that environment plays a prominent role in determining if someone will be overweight. The basic characterizations of monocyte bioenergetics prior to and following bariatric surgery in this proposal will be the basis for future studies to determine the effects of environmental chemicals on innate immunity and provide crucial insights into factors determining long-term outcomes to bariatric surgery. We predict that adolescent measurements of impaired bioenergenics will more efficiently return to a healthy state after surgery. However, since this type of study has never been done, any reproducible trends would be exciting within this under-studied population.
Molecular Mechanism Linking Environmental Phthalate Exposure and Prematurity
- Principal Investigator: Bingbing Wang, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences
- Co-Investigators: Todd Rosen, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences
- Hypothesis:Mono-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (MEHP) cross-links to the CD40 receptor of human placental syncytiotrophoblast (STB), which triggers a cascade of events including degradation of TRAF3, accumulation of NF-κB inducing kinase (NIK), processing of NF-κB2 (p100) to NF-κB2 (p52), and nuclear translocation of RelB/p52, and in turn, activates expression of pro-labor genes of placental origin.
- Long-term goal: Our long-term goal is to understand how the placental activity of the non-canonical NF-κB signaling can be manipulated for preventive and therapeutic purposes with regard to environmental toxin exposure-related prematurity. This work will provide a plausible mechanism behind preterm labor secondary to environmental phthalate exposure. Furthermore, the proposed work will facilitate the discoveries of potential drug targets for the treatment of preterm labor caused by this and other environmental chemical exposures.
Effect of the Gut Microbiome on Susceptibility to Mammary Carcinogenesis
- Principal Investigator: Helmut Zarbl: School of Public Health (SPH), Division of Environmental and Occupational Health
- Co-Investigators: Mingzhu Fang: School of Public Health (SPH), Division of Environmental and Occupational Health
- Hypothesis: We hypothesize that differences in gut microbiota and metabolic profiles are responsible for strain-specific differences in lipid metabolism, which contribute to differential susceptibility to mammary tumorigenesis by altering SIRT1-mediated regulation of circadian-controlled DNA Damage Response and Repair (DDRR) and growth regulatory genes.
- Long-term goal: This pilot study is essential for us to answer an important question about the potential systemic/remote effects of gut microbiota and microbiomes and their impact to the susceptibility to mammary cancer. Moreover, if the hypothesis is incorrect, the results will also suggest alternative mechanisms by which the effects of MSC on the microbiome and metabolism could alter susceptibility to mammary cancer. This research will contribute to understanding how the composition and function of the microbiome can influence individual susceptibility to environmental carcinogens.
2015-16 Pilot Projects
In the 2015-16 program year, CEED reviewed 12 pilot proposals and awarded funds to 7 projects at approximately $15,000 per project. The projects started on July 1, 2015.
Design and Development of a Novel Personal Nasal Filter to Improve Respiratory Health
- Principal Investigator: Taewon Han (SEBS, Environmental Sciences)
- Co-Investigators: Howard Kipen, Q. Meng (SPH, Environmental and Occupational Health)
- Hypothesis: The PI proposes to develop a novel personal nasal filter and hypothesizes that it will outperform the currently existing nasal filters in its ability to prevent airborne allergens and ultrafine particles from entering the human respiratory system thus providing a tool for improving respiratory health.
Microfluidic Biosensor for Dual Detection of Nitrite Content and Inflammatory Protein Biomarkers in Exhaled Breath
- Principal Investigator: Mehdi Javanmard (SOE, Electrical and Computer Engineering)
- Co-Investigators: Clifford Weisel, Howard Kipen, Robert Laumbach (SPH, Environmental and Occupational Health)
- Hypothesis: Use of dual detection of nitrite content in breath and low abundance multiplexed protein biomarker sensor will provide higher clinical sensitivity and specificity compared to single marker tests. We also hypothesize that the inflammatory protein biomarkers undetectable in EBC in previous studies performed in Dr. Laumbach’s group using Luminex will be detectable because of the order of magnitude improvement in sensitivity (compared to ELISA and Luminex) afforded by our multiplexed microfluidic assay.
Rutgers Commuter and Community Cohort (RC3) Study: Community Viewpoints
- Principal Investigator: Robert Laumbach (SPH, Environmental and Occupational Health)
- Co-Investigators: Laura Liang (SPH, Office of the Dean0; Judith Graber (RWJMS,Environmental Epidemiology and Statistics) and Kimi Nakata (EOHSI); Panos Georgopoulos (SPH, Environmental and Occupational Health)
- Hypothesis: The working hypothesis of this project is that community members in low-income, minority communities in NJ have diverse qualitative perspectives, perceptions and experiences related to the potential health impacts of daily commuting that differ from Rutgers employees who will respond to our web-based survey. Further, consideration of these community perspectives is essential in forming a representative cohort of NJ commuters for larger studies of health impacts of commuting.
Assessment of Microbial Communities in Real-World Urban Air Pollution Particulate Matter
- Principal Investigator: Stephan Schwander (SPH, Environmental and Occupational Health)
- Co-Investigators: Gedimas Mainelis (SEBS, Environmental Sciences)
- Hypothesis: Urban air samples in Mexico City contain aerosolized microbial communities that need to be considered in assessing human health effects from inhalation exposure to urban air pollution particles.
Epigenetic Deregulation of Sexual Developmental by In Utero Exposure to Zeranol
- Principal Investigator: Helmut Zarbl (SPH, Environmental and Occupational Health)
- Hypothesis: In utero exposure to low-dose zeranol induces adverse transgenerational effects on sexual development and reproduction through epigenetic reprogramming of gene networks that regulate these processes.
Epigenetic reprogramming of PI3K signaling pathway in females after developmental endocrine-disrupting chemical exposure
- Principal Investigator: Aparna Zama (SEBS, Dept. of Animal Sciences)
- Co-Principal Investigator: Mehmet Uzumcu (SEBS, Dept. of Animal Sciences)
- Hypothesis: Epigenetic effects of developmental exposure to multiple estrogenic endocrine-disrupting chemicals are mediated through the PI3K/AKT pathway in the ovary and uterus.
From QSAR to Big Data Profiling: the New Generation of Animal Toxicity Modeling
- Principal Investigator: Hao Zhu (Rutgers-Camden, Dept. of Chemistry)
- Co-Investigator: William J. Welsh (RWJMS, Dept. of Pharmacology
- Hypothesis: Experimental animal testing to evaluate chemical toxicity demands extensive financial and human resources and protracted turnaround times for both drug discovery and regulatory science This project will curate animal toxicity databases and profile the target drug molecules by automatically mining public big data sources, and develop hybrid and HDMR animal toxicity models as proof of concept.
SPECIAL 2015-16 RFP: COMMUNITY-ENGAGED ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH RESEARCH PROJECTS
In the fall of 2015, CEED issued a special call for proposals to link environmental research to communities affected by environmental problems. The RFP required that researchers work with CEED members affiliated with the Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC) and community organizations to prepare collaborative projects. Two projects were funded in December 2015.
Environmental Health Impacts of the Port of Newark/Elizabeth on Adjacent Communities
- Co-Principal Investigators: Robert Laumbach (SPH, Environmental and Occupational Health); Isella Ramirez, MURP, Ironbound Community Corporation; Amy Goldsmith, Clean Water Fund
- Co-Investigators: Kim Gaddy, Environmental Justice Organizer, Clean Water Fund; Ana Baptista, Assistant Professor, The New School; Cliff Weisel, Rutgers, (SPH, Environmental and Occupational Health); Judith Graber, (EOHSI); Kimi Nakata, (EOHSI),
- Hypothesis: Residents of the Ironbound and Newark’s South Ward observe port drayage trucks rumbling through residential streets and idling in front of schools, and they see and smell diesel smoke from truck exhaust pipes, but quantification of the local impacts of truck traffic on air quality and health has been challenging. Community leaders have conducted truck counts and limited real-time air quality measurements, on their own initiative and with some assistance from CEED researchers. A review of existing data and a strategic plan to obtain necessary data for greater quantification of the impacts is necessary for further assessment of effects on health outcomes. The goals of the pilot study are to review existing data, and to develop and implement a plan to fill data gaps, with the immediate goals of supporting action to improve environmental health at the local level in affected communities, and of developing a community-based participatory research (CBPR) project for a NIEHS R01 application.
Church-based community engagement for air quality and health effects studies in New Brunswick
- Principal Investigator: Qingyu Meng (SPH, Environmental and Occupational Health)
- Co-Investigators: Linda J. Bright, (President, Praising Healthy Ministry, Mt. Zion A.M.E. Church in New Brunswick); Kimi Nakata, (EOHSI), Robert Laumbach, (SPH, Environmental and Occupational Health)
- Hypothesis: The overall goal of this study is to encourage community engagement and investigate the feasibility of conducting church-based community health studies in New Brunswick and other local communities. Through this study, with participant involvement in planning project implementation, we will learn about concerns of local community members, and explore opportunities for conducting community-based participatory health studies in the future.
2014-15 Pilot Projects
In the 2014-15 program year, CEED reviewed 13 pilot proposals and awarded funds to 5 projects at approximately $25,000 per project.
Effect of Nanotechnology-Enabled Consumer Sprays on Personal Microbial Environment
- Investigators: Gedi Mainelis and Donna Fennell (SEBS, Environmental Sciences)
- Hypothesis: (1) Nanoparticles and their agglomerates released during the use of nanotechnology-enabled consumer sprays inactivate airborne and surface-borne microorganisms. (2) Efficiency of microbial inactivation and the extent of cell membrane damage depend on a particular consumer product, its aerosolized particle size distribution and its chemical composition.
Developing Methods for Characterizing the Lung Microbiome
- Investigators: Clifford Weisel, Howard Kipen (RWJMS, Environmental & Occupational Medicine); Shou-En Lu (School of Public Health, Biostatistics), Sabiha Hussain (RWJMS Medicine); Lee Kerkhof (SEBS, Marine and Coastal Sciences)
- Hypothesis: We hypothesize that the lung microbiome can be characterized in samples collected from cystic fibrosis (CF) patients and healthy controls using different collection methods: breath condensate, lung sputum, bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid and endobronchial biopsy. Our long term goal is to determine how the microbiome changes and interacts with the human host in response to environmental stressors, and how the induced changes to microbiome contributes to progression from a healthy to a diseased state.
Assessment of Neonatal Exposure to Pyrethroid Pesticides and Metabolites in Cord Blood
- Investigators: Stuart Shalat (RWJMS, Environmental & Occupational Medicine); Anna Vetrano (RWJMS, Pediatrics); Brian Buckley (EOHSI Chemical Analytical Laboratory); Jason Richardson (RWJMS Environmental & Occupational Medicine)
- Hypothesis: Pyrethroid pesticides and their metabolites, which may lead to neurologic or respiratory disorder in children, cross over from the pregnant woman to the fetus and are measurable in cord blood. Several birth outcomes (reduced birth weight and length and head circumference) and neurodevelopmental disorders (including ADHD and mental and motor delays), have been associated with insecticide exposure during development. This research will develop preliminary information on population levels of pyrethroids in maternal and cord blood to explore association between fetal exposure and neurodevelopmental abnormalities in children later in life and provide pilot data for the future submission of an NIH R01 grant to conduct a longitudinal epidemiologic study.
Effects of Green and Black Tea on Gut Microbiome and Metabolic Syndrome in db/db Mice
- Investigators: CS Yang (EMSOP, Chemical Biology); Judith Storch (SEBS, Nutritional Sciences); Janet Onishi (SEBS Biochemistry & Microbiology); Michael Moreau (RUCDR Analytical & Informatics)
- Hypothesis: Tea is the second most popular beverage consumed worldwide. There have been extensive laboratory and human studies suggesting that tea consumption, at daily doses of 3-4 cups or higher, can reduce the risk of chronic diseases, including obesity, metabolic syndrome (MetS) and diabetes. In our laboratory we have demonstrated that (-) epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG, the most abundant and biologically active tea polyphenol) at levels of 0.32% in the diet, can prevent or reduce high fat diet-induced obesity, MetS and liver steatosis. Several mechanisms have been proposed for such an effect, including reducing the absorption of fat and proteins, increasing expression of genes involved in fatty acid oxidation, decreasing expression of genes involved in fatty acid synthesis, increasing expression or translocation of glucose transporters, and/or decreasing pro-inflammatory cytokines. The possibility that tea consumption affects the gut microbiome, which subsequently contributes to the alleviation of MetS, has not been adequately investigated. The db/db mice provide a unique experimental system to investigate the alteration of gut microbiome under conditions simulating MetS. We plan to study the effects of (1) a standardized green tea polyphenol preparation (Polyphenon E) and (2) a black tea polyphenol preparation (containing theaflavins and thearubigins) on intestinal microbiome and parameters of MetS.
Estimating Alzheimers Risk by Measurement of OC Pesticides in a NJ Cohort Using SPME
- Investigators: Brian Buckley (EOHSI Chemical Analytical Laboratory); Jason Richardson, Stuart Shalat (RWJMS, Environmental & Occupational Medicine); Joel Ross (Memory Enhancement Centers of America)
- Hypothesis: A local population of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) patients will validate original findings of an association between AD as a positive amyloid or FDG (Flurodeoxyglucose) PET scan and elevated DDE serum concentrations, possibly extending the association to include multiple organochlorine pesticides.
2013-14 Pilot Projects
Pilot Projects, Mini-Pilots, and Sandy Mini-Pilots: In December 2012, responding to Hurricane Sandy, CEED announced a special round of mini-pilots to support efforts of researchers to investigate our own local environmental disaster, and in March 2013, a second special round was launched to assist researchers who were close to completion of projects with good prospects for external publication and/or funding.
Do Hurricane Sandy molds emit toxigenic volatile organic compounds?
- Investigators: Joan Bennett and Arati A. Inamdar (Plant Biology and Pathology)
- Hypothesis: Mold volatile organic compounds (VOCs) cause many of the symptoms associated with building related illness (BRI). More specifically, we hypothesize that an undetermined number of the strains and species of molds found growing in buildings damaged after Hurricane Sandy are capable of emitting toxigenic VOCs. To test this hypothesis, we will screen VOCs from molds isolated from Sandy-impacted homes using an inexpensive Drosophila-based toxicity assay developed in our laboratory and then compare the VOC profiles of toxic and non-toxic strains using SPME-GC/MS.
The exercise microbiome
- Investigators: Sara Campbell (Exercise Science and Sports Studies, School of Arts & Sciences)
- Hypothesis: It is hypothesized that exercise promotes a microbiome that is anti-obesogenic, and blunts the inflammatory response to a high fat diet. Our preliminary data shows that exercise can preserve intestinal morphology, which will reduce epithelial damage and can produce substantial changes to the microbiome.
Fecal metabolome and gut inflammation in the development of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC)
- Investigators: Changiang Guo (Pharmacology/Toxicology, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy) and Brian T. Buckley (EOHSI Laboratories)
- Hypothesis: Very low birth weight neonates are at risk of developing necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) or feeding intolerance as they transition from total perinatal nutrition (TPN) delivered intravascularly to enteral feeds. Known factors in this pathology include the intestinal microbiome, gut hypoxia, and inflammation within the gut. As yet, how these factors interact in the development of disease, i.e., what is causal and what consequential is unclear. This has made both diagnosis and treatment problematic. It is our hypothesis that disturbances within the gut lumen result in inflammatory events (marked by increased NO production) and alterations in both the metabolome and microbiome leading to injury and necrosis. By examining fecal samples from at risk infants over time in a longitudinal manner we will identify novel biomarkers of these processes and further our understanding of the initiating molecular mechanisms.
Modeling gene-environment interactions in Alzheimer’s Disease using patient-specific stem cells
- Investigators: Ronald Hart (Cell Biology & Neuroscience) and Jason R. Richardson (Environmental and Occupational Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School)
- Hypothesis: Environmental exposures interact with genetic risk factors to initiate pathogenic changes in neuronal function, leading to increased risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Human embryonic stem cells as a model to study the effect of endocrine disrupting chemicals on trophoblast development and hormonal function
- Investigators: Chi-Wei Lu (Child Health Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School) and Lauren Aleksunes (Pharmacology/Toxicology, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy)
- Hypothesis: Human trophoblast development and hormonal production are direct targets of endocrine disrupting chemicals. This hypothesis will be supported by observing changes in trophoblast differentiation and hormone secretion after treatment with EDCs. Our plan to examine this hypothesis will be tested by two experiments: (A): The effects of EDCs zearalenone and phthalate in trophoblast development from human embryonic stem cells (B) determining the effects of EDCs on steroid hormone production from isolated trophoblast populations.
Associations between air pollution and diabetes risk among young adults
- Investigators: Qingyu Meng (Environmental & Occupational Health, School of Public Health) and Shou-En Lu (Biostatistics, School of Public Health)
- Hypothesis: The hypothesis of this proposed epidemiologic study is that diabetes risk factors (biomarkers reflecting obesity/overweight, metabolic syndrome, dyslipidemia, and inflammation) can be predicted by inhalation exposure to air pollutants air pollutants for a cohort of young adults.
The gut microbiome and vitamin B12 degradation in the gastrointestinal tract
- Investigators: Joshua Miller (Nutritional Sciences), Carolyn M. Slupsky (Depts. Of Nutrition and Food Science Tech., University of California-Davis); Ralph Green (Dept. of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of California-Davis), Brian T. Buckley (EOHSI Laboratories)
- Hypothesis: (1) Vitamin B12 is degraded in the human gastrointestinal tract by gut microbiota. (2) The degree to which B12 is degraded varies among individuals and this variability is due to differences in gut microbiota populations. (3) Differences in gut microbiota populations that affect the extent of B12 degradation can be detected by metabolomic analysis of urine and serum samples.
Effects of developmental exposures to estrogenic endocrine disrupting compounds on adult energy homeostasis
- Investigators: Troy Roepke (Animal Sciences, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences)
- Hypothesis: Developmental exposures to estrogenic endocrine disrupting compounds (EDC) (BPA, nonylphenol, zearalenone, etc.) will impact energy homoeostasis and other hypothalamic functions in the adult.
Dietary lipid, the gut microbiome, and inflammation: Pathways to the metabolic syndrome
- Investigators: Judith Storch (Nutritional Sciences) and Janet Onishi (Biochemistry and Microbiology)
- Hypothesis: Dietary fat is known to affect the gut microbiota and the integrity of the intestinal epithelium surface. It is hypothesized that lipid-based nutritional supplements can alter the microbiota, repair the intestinal epithelium surface and reduce development of metabolic disease.
2012-13 Pilot Projects
- Mechanisms of response to diesel exhaust in subjects with asthma (Andrew Gow)
- Mouse liver transcriptome and genome-wide binding of PXR with acute, dose-dependent BDE99 exposure (Grace L. Guo)
- Can a novel in vivo endotoxin-induced protein expression signature identified in adult human leukocytes be used to link environmental endotoxin to childhood asthma? (Beatrice Haimovich)
- Correlates and effects of prenatal exposure to phthalates and bisphenol A (Stephen Marcella and Barry Weinberger)
- Characterization of zearalenone and its metabolite concentration in older women and the relationship to bone mineral density (Sue Shapses and Brian Buckley)
- Optimizing metabolomics protocols to characterize exposure to air pollution effects on human antimycobacterial immunity (Clifford Weisel)
- Predicting oxidative potential of toxic airborne transition metals: a novel QICAR approach (William Welsh and Qingyu Meng)
Sandy Mini-Pilot Projects
- Environmental and ecological concerns immediately following Hurricane Sandy (Joanna Burger)
- Exposure to emissions from gasoline power generators used after Hurricane Sandy (Clifford Weisel)
- Pediatric responses to Sandy-related exposures (Stuart Shalat)
Other Mini-Pilot Projects
- Finish WTC-dust In vitro study (Mingzhu Fang)
- Using an audience response system (ARS) to evaluate community programs (Laura Liang and Kimi Nakata)
- Epigenetic regulation of in vivo pulmonary inflammation and fibrosis following exposure to World Trade Center (WTC) Dust (Vasanthi Sunil)
- An integrated approach to defining response thresholds for genotoxicant exposures combining LC-MS/MS and DNA microarray-based gene expression profiling (Helmut Zarbl)
Earlier Pilot Projects
- Epigenetic Regulation of Carcinogenesis & Chemoprevention (Mingzhu Fang)
- Epigenetic Mechanisms in Nasal Mucosa among World Trade Center Responders with Chronic Rhinosinusitis (Robert Laumbach)
- Epigenetics, Environmental Exposures, and ADHD (Jason Richardson)
- Determining the effects of O-methylation of bisphenol A on gene expression and chromatin Remodeling (Lori White)
- WTC Project 1: The WTC Follow Up Cohort, Dose Reconstruction, and Mechanistic Studies (Howard Kipen)
- WTC Project 2: The WTC Follow Up Cohort: Dose Response and Other Epidemiologic Analyses (Dan Wartenberg)
- WTC Project 3: Clinical and Phenotypic Characterization of a WTC Cohort for Studies of Epigenetic Mechanisms (Robert Laumbach)
- WTC Project 4: In vitro effects of World Trade Center Dust on Human Immunity (Stephan Schwander)
- WTC Project 5. Epigenetic regulation of in vivo pulmonary inflammation and fibrosis following exposure to World Trade Center (WTC) Dust (Vasanthi Sunil)
- WTC Project 6: Epigenetic Changes in Human Blood Mononuclear Cells and Mouse Lung Tissues Exposed to World Trade Center (WTC) Dust (Mingzhu Fang)
- Placental Transporters Regulate Gestational Exposure to Pyrethroid Pesticides (Lauren Aleksunes)
- Impact of Zeranol and related mycotoxins on growth and development in girls in New Jersey (Elisa Bandera)
- Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and DNA damage in UVB-Exposed Cultured Rabbit Corneas (Marion Gordon)
- Risk from exposure to alkylphenols and related compounds in seafood from the Atlantic coast (Jeff Laskin)
- Cytokine Profiles in Human Exhaled Breath Condensates after Controlled Exposure to Diesel Exhaust (Rob Laumbach)
- Gene-Environment Interactions in ParkinsonÃ‚Â’s Disease: Role of Susceptibility to Neuroinflammation and Oxidative Stress (Jason Richardson)
- Alternative Macrophage Activation in Chronic World Trade Center (WTC) Dust Disease (Vasanthi Sunil)
- Effects of Nitrated Fatty Acids on Neonatal Inflammatory Responses (Anna Vetrano)
- Comparing MTBE’s effect on early angiogenic gene expression in the mesoderm hemangioblasts in the developing zebrafish (Danio rerio) and gene expression in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) using a Affymetrix Gene Chip (Keith Cooper)
- Epigenetic Mechanisms of Restoration of Circadian Rhythm by Methylselenocysteine (Mingzhu Fang)
- Oxidative stress, nitric oxide metabolism and vascular function in type II diabetes (Andrew Gow)
- Circadian gene expression and tissue bioenergetics are altered during the acute phase of systemic inflammation (Beatrice Haimovich)
- A Pilot Study of the Endocrine Disruption and Inflammatory Effects of Environmental Toxins on Fetuses (David Rich and Barry Weinberger)
- The Role of Liver Fatty Acid-Binding Protein (LFABP) in Liver Tumor Development (Judith Storch)
- Epigenetic inheritance of effects of endocrine disruptor exposure via the female germ line (Mehmet Uzumcu)
- Understanding Cellular Damage Related to ChromiumÃ‚Â’s Teratogenic and Mutagenic Properties by Measurement of Intra and Extra Cellular Redox Cycling with Stable Isotope Labels (Brian Buckley)
- Characterization of Physical and Chemical Characteristics of Biodiesel Emissions (Tina Fan)
- COPD Susceptibility to Procoagulant Effects of Traffic-Generated Particulate Air Pollution (Sabiha Hussain)
- Analysis of Exposure to Airborne Nanoparticles Released from the Nanotechnology-Based Consumer Products (Gedi Mainelis)