The EHSRC Story
Since its initial funding in 1990, the EHSRC has undergone four competitive renewals and has achieved numerous milestones in environmental health research and outreach and education. The 1990 proposal, under the direction of Dr. James A. Merchant, sought to address environmental health effects arising from agricultural and rural exposures, a primary goal that has remained constant throughout the life of the center. Initial research focused on epidemiological and clinical studies of human populations, exposure assessment and control, and biological mechanisms of adverse health effects, especially cancer, pulmonary disease and nutritional and reproductive disorders. Studies undertaken in this five-year cycle included pesticide, grain dust, endotoxin, and lead exposures in agricultural environments, mechanisms of asthma and lung injury, cancer-causing exposures such as radon and farm chemicals, along with farm injuries and other occupational hazards.
Following those early years, the EHSRC has expanded to include among its health research gene-environment interactions, childhood obesity, Persian Gulf War syndrome, and explored water quality and phytoremediation. The Center has conducted groundbreaking research on the human health effects of confined animal feeding operations, and has translated this research to the international and local communities through public forums, professional workshops and publication. From 1997-2006, the EHSRC hosted a highly successful week-long summer experience for high school students to learn about these environmental issues.
As the EHSRC enters its 23rd year, it continues to expand upon many of these original focus areas and goals. With a renewed focus on oxidative stress and metabolism, environmental lung disease, nanotoxicology, and inflammation and innate immunity, Center investigators are taking earlier research to the next level.