Today is Tuesday, Sep. 17, 2019

Department of Environmental Health

Center for Environmental Genetics


News & Events

  • CEG News at a Glance, 2019 Sept 13: PDF
  • CEG News at a Glance, 2019 Aug 22: PDF

Photo of Dr. Alvaro PugaCEG Associate Director Alvaro Puga, Ph.D., Fellow AAAS, AATS, will serve as Session Chair and present a talk titled “Chrome Exposure Disrupts Chromatin Architecture” at the XXIII International Charles Heidelberger Symposium on Cancer Research, to be held September 23-28, 2019 in Stintino, Sardinia, Italy.  Heidelberger was a member of the U.S. National Academies of Science and a giant in chemical carcinogenesis who developed and patented the anticancer drug 5-fluorouracil, which continues to be used today against cancers of the stomach, colon and breast.  More details about the symposium can be found at

Cover of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Sept 2019We congratulate CEG members Susan Pinney, Ph.D., F.A.C.E., Frank Biro, M.D., Changchun Xie, Ph.D. and colleagues on their publication in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism: Fassler CS, Gutmark-Little I, Xie C, Giannini CM, Chandler DW, Biro FM, Pinney SM. Sex hormone phenotypes in young girls and the age at pubertal milestones. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2019 Aug 13. pii: jc.2019-00889. doi: 10.1210/jc.2019-00889. PMID: 31408174. The team sought to use an unbiased statistical approach to identify phenotypes of four sex hormones (estradiol, estrone, testosterone and DHEA-S) and age at pubertal milestones thelarche, pubarche, and menarche. Girls were classified into four hormone phenotypes using objective principal components and cluster analyses of longitudinal hormone data.  When controlling for race, maternal age of menarche, caregiver education, and body mass, different phenotypes were associated with the age of pubertal events. These findings are important, as they may improve understanding of the timing of pubertal milestones and risk of adult disease. 

Cover of the journal Environmental Research, May 2019A study by CEG members Kelly Brunst, Pat Ryan, Kim Yolton, Grace LeMasters and Kim Cecil, et al., has found an association between traffic-related air pollution and anxiety symptoms in children.  As reported in media such as The Times (London) and Daily Mail (UK), children from polluted areas are more likely to report feelings of anxiety than children who are not exposed to high levels of traffic-related pollution (TRAP). As part of the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study (CCAAPS) and in work funded in part through a $40,000 2018 CEG pilot award, Brunst and colleagues studied 145 adolescents who underwent magnetic resonance spectroscopy.  Researchers measured in the anterior cingulate cortex several brain metabolites, including myo-inositol, N-acetylaspartate, creatine, choline, glutamate, glutamate plus glutamine, and glutathione. Investigators assessed anxiety symptoms using the Spence Children's Anxiety Scale. TRAP exposure in early-life, averaged over childhood, and during the 12 months prior to imaging was estimated using a validated land use regression model. Associations between TRAP exposure, brain metabolism, and anxiety symptoms were estimated using linear regression and a bootstrapping approach for testing mediation by brain metabolite levels. Brunst and colleagues posit that TRAP may elicit atypical excitatory neurotransmission and glial inflammatory responses leading to increased metabolite levels and subsequent anxiety symptoms.

Dr. Mei-Ling Bermudez in laboratory (photo)We congratulate CEG New Investigator Scholar (NIS 2014-2016) Mei Ling Bermúdez, Ph.D., on her publication in NEUROSCIENCE: Bermúdez ML, Seroogy KB, Genter MB. Evaluation of carnosine intervention in the Thy1-aSyn mouse model of Parkinson's disease. Neuroscience. 2019 May 21 [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 31125602. Mentor: Mary Beth Genter, Ph.D., DABT, Fellow, ATS.

Photo of Dr. Susan KasperCEG member and UC Professor of Environmental Health Susan Kasper, Ph.D., has been elected vice president of the Society for Basic Urologic Research (SBUR). Kasper will serve as vice president and president-elect for 2019-2020 and as SBUR president from 2020 to 2021. SBUR is a U.S.-based basic urologic research society affiliated with the American Urology Association. Members include basic and clinical/surgeon scientists from academia, industry and government with expertise in molecular and developmental biology, oncology, immunology, epidemiology, andrology, biochemistry, bioinformatics and clinical urology. Research areas cover urologic cancers, benign diseases, developmental biology, kidney and bladder function, urologic autoimmune, infectious and neurologic diseases, male reproductive biology, infertility and erectile dysfunction. More about Dr. Kasper here.

Photo of Dr. Zalfa Abdel-MalekThree CEG members were among UC faculty members honored for obtaining US Patents in 2018: Zalfa Abdel-Malek, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Dermatology, received patent No. 9,834,580 “Pharmaceutical compositions comprising selective peptide-based agonists of melanocortin 1 receptor.” The peptides, pharmaceutical compositions, and methods described in the patent are expected to benefit persons suffering from skin disorders and diseases such as melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, porphyria, polymorphous light eruption, vitiligo, and solar urticarial. Dr. Abdel-Malek is a three-time CEG pilot award recipient, including a 2017 Affinity group award for the study “p16 mutations increase melanoma risk by altering the melanocyte microenvironment,” and a 2018 Shovel Ready pilot award for the study “Efficacy of small alpha-MSH analogs in inhibiting oxidative stress in melanocytes to reduce UV-induced genotoxicity.”

Photo of Dr. Patrick TsoPatrick Tso, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, received patient No. 9,730,980 “Method of treating type I diabetes using apolipoprotein A-IV” and patent No. 9,951,120 “Method of treating diabetes using non-glycosylated apolipoprotein A-IV.” The pharmaceutical compositions and methods described in the patents will benefit persons with type I and type II diabetes, respectively. Dr. Tso is a CEG internal Advisory Board member.

Dr Jonathan Bernstein and Dr. Anastasios Angelopoulos imageCEG clinical member Jonathan Bernstein, M.D., and his colleagues Daniel Kanter, MD,and Anastasios Angelopoulos, PhD, received patent No. 9,921,167 “Optical sensor based on PFSI membrane comprising associated benzene-1,3-diol for detecting target compounds, and method thereof.” Details about all of these patents here

CEG member Zalf Abdel-Malek, PhD video 1st in a new series! A firsthand look at the fascinating work of CEG members, in terms that lay persons and newcomers can understand. In this inaugural Meet the Researcher video, we are introduced to Zalfa Abdel-Malek, PhD, Professor of Dermatology, whose study of gene-environment interactions has already led to a patented agent to help prevent melanoma. CEG video