Sep 21, 2016

USC and partner institutions awarded $6 million children’s environmental health grant from NIH

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Research to look at prenatal and early life environmental influences on lifetime health related to asthma and obesity

Staff Report

Media Coverage: US

LOS ANGELES – September 21, 2016 – Researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of USC have been awarded a 2 year $6 million grant, as the first phase of a large seven-year National Institutes of Health, Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) initiative involving more than 30 research entities. The USC based research team will investigate health issues related to asthma and obesity.

Led by Frank Gilliland, a professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine, and Carrie Breton, assistant professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine, the new research program, titled “Life course Approach to Developmental Repercussions of Environmental Agents on MEtabolic and Respiratory health” (LA DREAMERs), will combine more than 8,900 people from two different environmental exposure studies that tracked prenatal to early adult subjects The cohorts come from the Maternal And Developmental Risks from Environmental and Social Stressors (MADRES) and Children’s Health Study (CHS) studies.

“While much is known about the negative impacts of air pollution and exposure to toxic metals on human health, many questions remain,” Gilliland said. “What we know for sure is that a good start is essential for a healthy life. LA DREAMERS will help us gain a better understanding of what it takes to ensure newborn children get off to a great start so they can avoid life-long health consequences from environmental exposures that can even impact future generations within a family.”

Continued local, national, and global awareness of the negative health impacts of air pollution and exposure to toxic metals have created more questions for researchers that the team at USC is poised to answer. The LA DREAMERs program will include two distinct research projects: one focusing on respiratory health and the other focusing on metabolic health. Assessing exposure to environmental pollutants including air pollution and metals will be integrated into both projects.

The idea that environmental pollutants can exacerbate pre-existing asthma is supported by decades of research. However, whether these pollutants can cause asthma has remained less clear, and the critical time periods of exposure remain largely unknown. Respiratory health research will focus on systematically assessing critical windows of exposure, including in utero, early and late childhood, and across generations.

The metabolic research project will evaluate the respiratory and metabolic health effects from environmental exposures experienced across the lifespan: from childhood to adulthood.

“We are becoming increasingly aware that different environmental exposures occurring early in life, even prenatally, have the potential to cause lasting harm to children as they grow into adults,” Breton said.

Southern California has long been home to one of the most extensive air pollution monitoring networks in the country. This data has been used by USC researchers and beyond to establish links between regional air pollution levels and the health of communities.

Rima Habre, an assistant professor of clinical preventive medicine at Keck Medicine of USC explains the significance of the exposure modeling component within the two research projects. “LA DREAMERs will develop new, hybrid models that incorporate satellite and ground-based measurements and rich information on local sources of air pollution in order to overcome the shortcomings of traditional approaches that solely rely on data from ambient monitors separated by a few kilometers,” Habre said. “Models will be developed for the Southern California region and extended nationwide to contribute to the ECHO consortium.”

The LA DREAMERs program also includes funding for a statistical methods project.

“The rich data anticipated in ECHO on multiple correlated exposures and multiple interrelated health outcomes assessed throughout life requires new statistical methodology to fully address the research questions,” said Sandrah Eckel, an assistant professor of preventive medicine at Keck Medicine of USC.

A team of USC biostatisticians will develop these new methods to analyze longitudinal measurements of respiratory and metabolic outcomes.  The resulting methods will enable researchers to identify critical windows of exposure for multiple environmental factors and to analyze data on multiple exposures, biomarkers, and health outcomes.

Research partners
In addition to USC researchers, which include investigators from the departments of Preventive Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynecology, partner institutions include Cal State Los Angeles, UC Irvine, Sonoma Technology and Northwestern University. Additional resources will be provided by the Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center (NIEHS), the MADRES Center (NIEHS/NIMHD/EPA), the Southern California Children’s Environmental Health Center (NIEHS/EPA), the Hastings Center for Pulmonary Research, the Southern California Clinical Translational Sciences Institute and the Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute.

Research reported in this story was supported by the Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health under award number UG3OD023287.

The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Learn more about the ECHO program components and the awardees for each component: https://www.nih.gov/echo/program-components


NIH Press Release: NIH awards more than $150 million for research on environmental influences on child health, September 21, 2016.


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Sep 16, 2016

Webinar on Research Communication

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The USC Community Outreach and Engagement Program hosted a webinar today,  “Communicating Research on Diesel and Your Health.” This webinar is the first in the Research in Action series being developed by the team. Over 100 participants joined the webinar to discuss the topic from the Moving Forward Network and the network on Partnerships for Environmental Public Health.  This included community, public health, government, academic and research, air agency, legal, healthcare, and environmental justice organizations.  The team looks forward to receiving suggestions on future webinar topics, to continue the discussions between research and community audiences.


All the infographics that the COEP has developed can be found here on our blog on the right side column.
 
Presentations:
Carla Truax, Health communications quick tips

Wendy Gutschow: Infographics and Data Viz: How-to, tools, and resources

Sheryl Magzamen, Communicating science: the Diesel Exhaust Exposure in the Duwamish Study, and developing the Diesel 101 presentation.

Research in Action Webinar series:
This webinar series aims to provide information on environmental health and facilitate discussion between researchers and members in the Moving Forward Network.  Participate in these sessions to discuss tools and methods for community-based research projects, information that can be useful to your projects, where to find the data you need, and how to communicate the information effectively in your materials.  Contact Carla Truax from USC Environmental Health if you have any questions: ctruax@usc.edu






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Sep 12, 2016

SCEHSC Seminar Series: "Linking Exposure and Translational Science: A Community-Engaged Project near a Legacy Mine"

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The SCEHSC Seminar Series presents


Paloma Beamer, PhD

Associate Professor

University of Arizona

College of Public Health

Community, Environment, and Policy Department


Friday, October 7, 2016

"Linking Exposure and Translational Science: A Community-Engaged Project near a Legacy Mine"

11:45am-1:00 p.m.

Soto Street I Building, Room 116

2001 North Soto Street
Los Angeles, CA 90032

If you would like to attend the FREE seminar, please email jacy@usc.edu

Paloma Beamer, PhD, is an associate professor in the College of Public Health at the University of Arizona. She holds joint appointments as an associate professor of Chemical & Environmental Engineering and as a research scientist in the Asthma and Airway Disease Research Center. She is an environmental engineer by training and earned her BS from the University of California Berkeley and her MS and PhD from Stanford University. Her research focuses on understanding how individuals are exposed to environmental contaminants and the health risks of these exposures with a special focus on vulnerable populations, including children, low-wage immigrant workers, Native Americans, and those in the US-Mexico Border Region. The ultimate goal of her work is to develop more effective interventions and policies for prevention of avoidable cases of certain diseases such as asthma.

Dr. Beamer has received a Mentored Quantitative Research Award from NIH, a Scientific Technological Achievement Aware (Level 1) from the US EPA, and Young Investigator Aware from Yuma Friends of Arizona Health Sciences. She was selected as one of Tucson's "40 under 40" and as an Emerging Investigator for an international journal, Environmental Science: Processes & Impact. She currently serves on the US EPA Board of Scientific Counselors Subcommittee for Chemical Sustainability. 

She is a lifetime member of the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) and the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). 

Dr. Beamer uses field sampling, GIS, computer modeling and laboratory techniques in her research. She has led multiple studies to collect of multi-media exposure samples for metals, pesticides, and VOCs with minority and rural populations. She has also developed an exposure and dose simulation model for children's exposures to pesticides, a model that quantifies the transport of outdoor contaminants to the home environment, and a model focused on transfer of viruses via hand contacts. Dr. Beamer is also an expert in the collection and quantification of key exposure factors aimed at improving risk assessment. Dr. Beamer is currently conducting the Tucson Air Pollution Study, which is focused on developing a retrospective exposure assessment for traffic-related pollutants. She is also assessing children's exposures and health outcomes in a rural community impacted by a contaminated legacy-mining site. Most recently, Dr. Beamer has received funding to assess exposures and risk perceptions of the Dine (Navajo) following the Gold King Mine Spill.

Visitor parking at the Soto Street Building is limited. If you are planning to park at the Soto building during the seminar please contact Marissa Jacy (jacy@usc.edu) for more information. If you are a USC employee, please plan to take the free USC shuttle to our seminars whenever possible. Information about the USC shuttle can be found at http://transet.usc.edu/index.php/bus-map-schedules/.
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Aug 31, 2016

Intern Perspective: High school student impacted by local environmental justice issues

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This summer the Community Outreach and Engagement team had the pleasure of hosting interns ranging from high school to masters level students. Maggie Shi, a high school senior from Yorba Linda, CA spend two months with us doing a variety of projects. A quick learner with a skill set that enabled her to tackle any assignment given to her, Maggie contributed in a variety of ways to the work that the Community Outreach staff and college interns did over the summer. At the end of her time with us, Maggie provided the following reflections on her experience.

I remember sitting at my desk on the first day of my internship, feeling excited, nervous, and a little out of place. As I looked around at all these unfamiliar faces around me, it dawned upon me that USC’s Division of Environmental Health probably didn’t take in many high school interns, and all the other college interns seemed much more knowledgeable and experienced than I was. Nevertheless, I knew how fortunate I was to be here, and I was still extremely excited. Thankfully, throughout the first few weeks, I was met with an incredible amount of support and enthusiasm from both my fellow interns and other employees in the office, and I quickly settled in.

About halfway through my internship, I attended a conference where a resident of Boyle Heights told her story of how her health has been negatively impacted from living in a home and community where exposure to lead is prevalent. To this day, I still remember her dry, scratchy voice, trembling as if she were calling for attention, pleading for life. As I listened to this woman fight-- beg, even-- for her life, I suddenly realized that I was fighting for something tangible, not some statistic in a textbook. I was fighting for people like her.

From that day on, every flyer I developed, every social media platform I worked on, even every data entry or workroom cleaning I finished, was filled with purpose. No matter how seemingly simple a duty I was given, I knew I was ultimately working to better lives, and if I had to input data the whole day (which, admittedly, only happened once), then so be it. This internship has given me so much knowledge and experience of environmental issues and science, and the affirmation and inspiration to continue this work in the future have been just as valuable.

Throughout my two months here, I’ve been involved in various projects ranging from a Toxic Household Cleaning Products workshop to social media research and development, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have experienced things from testing soil for lead levels to researching common toxic chemicals in the household. Though my work in the office has surely proven valuable, seeing my work and the works of those around me out in communities has been invaluable. Developing posters then seeing them in full size at workshops gave me an inexplicable sense of pride and purpose that I continually used to better my work.

However, the work that I’ve done here, though clearly worthwhile, has only constituted part of my internship experience here at USC. The people I’ve worked with have been every bit influential as the projects I’ve worked on. Working alongside so many people who are dedicated to not only their jobs, but also their coworkers, inspired me to work harder and do my very best. Needless to say, this kind of inspiration will stay with me long after my work in this office is done, and I could not be more grateful for these experiences.

I am so extremely thankful and proud to have interned here at USC’s Division of Environmental Health. I came into the office in the beginning of summer, unsure of my interests and my capabilities; now, I’m leaving with so much more knowledge, passion, and inspiration to continue pursuing these interests in the future.

Thank you to everyone in the office for being so extremely passionate about your jobs and helping me become more comfortable here. Thank you to the interns who have selflessly dedicated their time to continue bettering the lives of so many. You all work so hard, so know that your work has helped and inspired so many people, me included. Thank you to my supervisors, the staff and faculty of the Division of Environmental Health. I truly hope that the work I have done here has bettered lives. I know it has bettered mine.


The posters that Maggie designed for workshops that were implemented this summer.

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Aug 26, 2016

Intern Perspective: Toxic chemicals in our homes, The pollution we can control

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During Summer 2016, the Community Engagement team of the MADRES Environmental Health Disparities Center at USC began to host public health interns from Cal State LA. In response to a request that came from community groups in the LA area, interns began their work developing content and implementing workshops for local community groups around the theme of toxic chemicals in the homes. After conducting the first workshop in the series, interns Andrea Calderon and Giovanna Manson-Hing reflect upon their experience below. 

Every day people are exposed to hidden toxins whether it be at school, at work or even at home. Pollution is all around us and most times we can’t control it, but sometimes we can. One of the many ways we can control the pollution in our homes is through awareness of toxic chemicals found in cleaning products. Whether you are cleaning once a day or once a week, it is important to know what common chemicals found in products are harmful to you and your family. Chlorine, ammonia, sodium hydroxide, 2-butoxyethanol, PERC, triclosan, and added fragrance are just some of the many chemicals that have been found to cause short-term and long-term health effects. Short-term symptoms include skin irritations, sore throat, dizziness, and loss of coordination. Studies have shown that exposing yourself to these harmful toxins over the years may lead to chronic bronchitis, liver and kidney damage, asthma, reduced sperm counts, birth defects and even cancer. Who is vulnerable to these damaging health effects? Everyone at home, especially pregnant women and children.

Raffle basket of green cleaning products.
Many of these harmful chemicals are not listed on the back of the cleaning products because it is not federally regulated. The Toxic Chemicals in Our Homes workshop is designed to provide the knowledge and awareness to the community about the potential health effects linked to commonly used cleaning products at home. The workshop also teaches greener alternatives through DIY product recipes which include multipurpose cleaners, furniture polish, laundry detergent, and more. 
With resources from the Environmental Health Centers at USC, our first successful workshop took place on August 3 at Villa Esperanza in Los Angeles. Residents of this low-income apartment complex primarily spoke Spanish and were very interested in the information.  We facilitated the workshop in collaboration with community leaders from Esperanza Community Housing Corporation.
Workshop participants making a "green" all-purpose cleaning product.
Workshop presenters: Andrea Calderon (L) and Giovanna Manson-Hing (R).

From the 20 participants, we discovered that many of them used common household cleaning products like Windex, Pledge, Clorox Bleach, and a variety of air fresheners; all found to have chemicals with harmful health effects. When asked what symptoms they experienced while cleaning at home, many replied that they experience headaches, loss of coordination, skin irritations and respiratory effects. We then were able to explain, that these symptoms experienced were short term but could eventually develop into long term health effects.  

After all the information was presented, we provided recipe cards to each participant so that they could make take home samples of a toxic free all-purpose cleaner. As an incentive for their presence and participation, we raffled a Go Green Basket filled with recipe cards and already made furniture polish, multi-purpose cleaner, and laundry detergent. We left with a feeling of motivation to continue our work because it was clear that the majority of our participants had limited knowledge of the potential health effects linked to cleaning products that they use in their homes on a daily basis.

By Andrea Calderon and Giovanna Manson-Hing
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Aug 23, 2016

SCEHSC Seminar Series: "Communicating Air Quality Data and Health Risk to the Public"

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The SCEHSC Seminar Series presents


Jo Kay Ghosh, PhD

Health Effects Officer

South Coast Air Quality Management District


Friday, September 9, 2016

"Communicating Air Quality Data and Health Risk to the Public"

11:45am-1:00 p.m.

Soto Street I Building, Room 116

2001 North Soto Street
Los Angeles, CA 90032

If you would like to attend the FREE seminar, please email jacy@usc.edu

Dr. Jo Kay Ghosh is the Health Effects Officer at the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD). She earned her doctorate in Epidemiology from the UCLA School of Public Health, with her work on air pollution and birth outcomes. She also conducted post-doctoral research at the USC Department of Preventive Medicine, examining the effects of air pollution on cancer risk. Previously, she worked at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, where she managed the Epidemiology and Research Unit of the Tuberculosis Control Program. 

Visitor parking at the Soto Street Building is limited. If you are planning to park at the Soto building during the seminar please contact Marissa Jacy (jacy@usc.edu) for more information. If you are a USC employee, please plan to take the free USC shuttle to our seminars whenever possible. Information about the USC shuttle can be found at http://transet.usc.edu/index.php/bus-map-schedules/.

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Aug 19, 2016

AirPollBrain and CEHC Presents: "Perinatal Metal Exposure and Neurodevelopment: Identifying Windows of Susceptibility"

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Megan Horton, PhD

Assistant Professor


Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

"Perinatal Metal Exposure and Neurodevelopment: Identifying Windows of Susceptibility"

11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

AirPollBrain Mini-Symposium: "Air Pollution and Adolescent Brain Development"

12:00 p.m.-1:30p.m.


If you would like to attend this FREE seminar, please email Marissa Jacy at jacy@usc.edu 
Dr. Horton earned her doctoral degree in Environmental Health Sciences at Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University. During her doctoral training, she gained expertise in the development and use of biological markers to measure prenatal and early life exposures to environmental toxicants, focusing mainly on residential exposure to pesticides. Subsequently, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Sergievsky Center for the Epidemiologic Study of Neurologic Diseases. The focus of this postdoc was to explore the use of brain imaging to investigate the impact of prenatal exposure to pesticides and secondhand smoke on neuropsychological and behavioral function throughout childhood. Dr. Horton was recently awarded an NIH career transition award and accepted a position as an Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Her current work combines her experience with biomarker development and neuroimaging to understand the mechanisms of neurodevelopmental toxicity following exposure to chemical mixtures.

Visitor parking at the Soto Street Building is limited. If you are planning to park at the Soto building during the seminar please contact Marissa Jacy (jacy@usc.edu) for more information. If you are a USC employee, please plan to take the free USC shuttle to our seminars whenever possible. Information about the USC shuttle can be found at http://transet.usc.edu/index.php/bus-map-schedules/.
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