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  • CEG News at a Glance, 2020 Aug\Sept: PDF
  • CEG News at a Glance, 2020 July\Aug: PDF

The CEG Internal Advisory Board has approved as of November 5 the admission of 3 new CEG Associate members: John Reichard, Ph.D., Pharm.D.; Edward J. Merino, Ph.D.; and William E. Miller, Ph.D.

Photo head shot of John ReichardDr. John Reichard is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Industrial Hygiene in the UC Department of Environmental and Public Health Science. His research interests include applied human toxicology and chemical risk analysis, and he brings to the CEG highly respected expertise in mechanistic toxicology, pharmacology, risk assessment and computational exposure modeling. He is currently collaborating with CEG members Susan Pinney, Ph.D., F.A.C.E. and Changchun Xie, Ph.D. on Dr. Pinney's R24 award from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Fernald Community Cohort: Research Resource for Environmental Epidemiology (R24 ES028527).

Photo head shot of Dr. Edward J. Merino, also known as Eddie MerinoEdward J. Merino, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Chemistry in the UC College of Arts and Sciences and a chemist with research interests at the juncture between chemistry and biology. Dr. Merino has been part of research teams that develop molecules to selectively kill cancer cells that have reactive oxygen species, generate new sunscreens to prevent DNA damage, and projects wherein he serves as the chemistry lead to develop new bioactive molecules.  A particular interest is molecular design toward new technology, especially through reactivity. He is currently collaborating with Dr. Anna Luisa Kadekaro, a former CEG Career Development Awardee, on an NIEHS R15 award, Limiting UV-induced genome instability with self-cycling antioxidant reagents (RR15 ES029675).

Photo head shot of Dr. William E. MillerWilliam Miller, Ph.D. is Professor of Molecular Genetics and Director of the  Molecular Genetics Graduate Program in the UC College of Medicine.The Miller laboratory is interested in the mechanisms by which microbial pathogens manipulate host cell signal transduction pathways. Our main focus is on using cytomegaloviruses as model systems to examine how pathogens alter G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) signaling pathways.  Dr. Miller is director of the NIEHS-funded Environmental Carcinogeneses and Mutagenesis T32 Training Program at the University of Cincinnati (T32 ES007250). Co-Leader: CEG Associate Director Alvaro Puga, Ph.D.

The CEG Internal Advisory Board approved as of May 2020 the admission of three new CEG Associate members and New Investigator Awardees (NIAs): Drs. Angelico Mendy, Jun Wang, and Patrick Ray. As an NIA, each early career investigator will receive limited Jr faculty salary support and active mentoring in EHS research.

mendyangelicoAngelico Mendy, MD, MPH, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the UC Department of Environmental and Public Health Sciences. Dr. Mendy completed a post-baccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award in the Environmental Cardiopulmonary Disease Group at NIEHS. His research there covered the effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals on respiratory health and examined whether these effects might be mediated by epigenetic changes, recently reporting the association of bisphenols F and S used as bisphenol A (BPA) substitutes with asthma and allergic outcomes. His other interests include the identification of phenotypes of complex diseases and the effect modification by serum levels of antioxidant vitamins (A, C, and E) on the relationship of ambient air pollutants and asthma outcomes.

wang-junJun Wang, PhD, PE, CIH, CSP, is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Environmental and Industrial Hygiene, where he oversees the Workplace Aerosol and Gaseous Lab (WANG Lab) in the UC Center for Health-Related Aerosol Studies (CHRAS). His research interests include measuring emission of airborne toxins from notable environmental sources; developing methodologies to quantify cytotoxicity, oxidative potential, and respiratory deposition of ultrafine aerosols and nanoparticles; and designing next-generation sensory detection and engineering control to reduce inhalation exposure. Dr. Wang has proposed as part of his commitment to the mission of the CEG a multi-faceted study aiming to understand how metal exposures (manganese, lead, mercury, etc.) introduce neuroinflammation through magnolia activation and cytokines overproduction, and how learning, memory, and other developmental markers in youth are affected by environmental exposure to metals.

patrickalexanderrayDr. Patrick Ray, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering in the UC College of Engineering and Applied Science. Dr. Ray completed his undergraduate and graduate studies in Massachusetts: B.Sc., University of Massachusetts, Amherst 2001. M.Sc., Tufts University, 2006 (Civil & Environmental Engineering, Water Resources). Ph.D., Tufts 2010 (Water Resources Engineering). Postdoc, UMass-Amherst, 2014 (Water Systems Modeling under Uncertainty). He has served as Principal Investigator on awards from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Ohio Water Development Authority (Multi-dimensional risk assessment on riverine Contamination: Case study of Cincinnati) and World Bank (Group Climate Change Risk Assessment of Expanded Upper Arun Hydropower Facility, Nepal). In 2015 Dr. Ray received the World Bank Knowbel Prize Team Award.

CEG members Chia-I Ko, PhD, and Kelly Brunst, PhD, have received awards from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS): Dr. Ko, an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental and Public Health Sciences, has been awarded nearly a quarter of a million dollars in year 1 for her study, “Disruption of Pluripotency by Dioxin Exposure,” R21 ES031190. Dr. Brunst, an assistant professor in the Division of Epidemiology, has been awarded more than a half million dollars in year 1 for her 5-year R01 study, R01 ES031054, “Epigenetics, Air Pollution, and Childhood Mental Health.”

brunstkellyBrunst’s study seeks to determine whether exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and traffic-related air pollution (TRAP) during childhood and adolescence impacts the epigenome and whether changes in DNA methylation can be used to identify children at increased risk for anxiety and depression. Using the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study (CCAAPS) and Health Outcomes and Measures of the Environment (HOME) study birth cohort, the Brunst team will conduct an epigenome-wide search for DNA methylation biomarkers associated with PM2.5 and TRAP exposure prenatally through age 12 years (n=500) and identify unique and pollution-related DNA methylation signatures associated with anxiety and depression. The team will aim to replicate its findings in a third, independent birth cohort, Project Viva (n=652), with similar sociodemographic characteristics and available air pollution and neuro-developmental outcome data

ko-chia-i-jpegKo’s R-21 study will use an advanced 3D chromatin structure approach to study toxic effects in pluripotency networks resulting from environmental exposure. Dr. Ko’s in vivo model is expected to lead to better understanding of the mechanisms of developmental toxicity of dioxins, making it possible to arrive at prevention and intervention approaches to deal with embryonic environmental injury. Earlier this year Dr. Ko received a $15,000 Pilot award (innovator award category) from the CEG for her project, “Disruption of pluripotency and differentiation of preimplantation embryonic cells by dioxin exposure.”

Dr. Ko is among several CEG-affiliated researchers honored by the UC College of Medicine Office of Research in its 2020 Gallery of Awardees. The Gallery features faculty members who have been awarded external grants of $100,000/yr or more in direct costs and is displayed in the CARE/Crawley Atrium, as well as via electronic posters\digital signage throughout east campus. The 2020 Gallery of Awardees has included CEG member and 2019 CEG Pilot awardee Senu Apewokin, M.D., who has received a 5-year K-08 award from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for his study “Harnessing induced human intestinal organoids (IHIOS) and metagenomics to unravel host immune-microbiota interactions during cancer chemotherapy-associated clostridium difficile infections.Photo of Senu Apewokin, MD, January 2020 television news reportIn August, Dr. Apewokin received a Step 1 Processes & Method Award under the UC Center for Clinical and Translational Science and Training (CCTST) Processes & Methods Grant Program. Together with Dr. Zhang Peng of the Department of Chemistry, Dr. Apewokin received the CCTST award for the project “Non-invasive hydrogen monitoring for microbiome assessments during chemotherapy." Dr. Apewokin, a specialist in Infectious Diseases, collaborated with CEG Director Susan M. Pinney, Ph.D., F.A.C.E., on the CEG-funded Pilot project “Association between PFOA Exposure and Humoral Responses to Pneumococcal Vaccines” (2019 New to Environmental Health Science award, $25K).  Dr. Apewokin is pictured here in a local television news interview conducted earlier this year on the then-looming CoVid19 pandemic.

tso-patrickThe 2020 Gallery of Awardees has also featured CEG members Katie Burns, Ph.D., and her funded study, “Targeting Neutrophilic Responses in the Initiation of Endometriosis,” and Patrick Tso, Ph.D., Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, for his work on the “Evaluation of Structural and Compositional Lipid Technologies Upon Nutrient Absorption and Deposition.”

Navigating ASSIST for human subjects and clinical trials: The Application Submission System & Interface for Submission Tracking (ASSIST) system is used to submit applications electronically to NIEHS and other NIH and Public Health Service agencies. It is also used to ensure PIs' compliance with timely reporting of Human Subjects Study inclusion enrollment data, etc. Delays and errors in Human Subjects reporting via ASSIST can delay or jeopardize individual and Center funding; hence, this guidance from NIEHS staff specialist Martha Barnes, M.S. is important for PIs and their staff: PPT slides accessible here (PDF). Webinar recording accessible here (mp4 file).

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