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  • CEG News at a Glance, 2021 June\July:  PDF
  • CEG News at a Glance, 2021 May\June: PDF

NIEHS photo Director Roy WoychikPOSTPONED: We regret to note that the CEG-hosted NIEHS Precision Environmental Health Community Forum originally planned for November 16 must be postponed until spring 2022, in light of pandemic-related travel restrictions.  We look forward to welcoming to Cincinnati next spring NIEHS Director Roy Woychik, PhD, and colleagues.  In the meantime, we look forward to staying in touch with all those local government and public health officials and community leaders who have expressed strong interest in precision environmental health and the work of the CEG. Stay tuned, and stay healthy!

Portrait of Xiang Zhang PhDThe Genomics and Epigenomics Sequencing Core (GESC), managed by Xiang Zhang, PhD, has updated its online form for requesting services: https://med.uc.edu/depart/eh/cores/genomics/services-and-form. CEG investigators who use GESC services should self-identify as CEG members, in order to enhance Center reporting of research productivity. CEG members also should indicate on the form whether they would additionally like their data to be transferred to the CEG Bioinformatics Core (Director: Mario Medvedovic, PhD). The GESC Advisory Committee notes that the Bioinformatics Core offers long-term data storage, as well as options for highly sophisticated data analysis.

Integrative Technologies Support (ITS) Core Funding Available: CEG members are eligible for ITS Subsidies (i.e., matching funds) for use of certain cores and services, including Bioinformatics support. PIs with currently funded CEG Pilot awards may receive pro bono Bioinformatics support for the CEG-funded project. Details and an application form can be obtained on the ITS Core Web page.

The CEG welcomes our newest members:

Photo of Michael T. Williams PhDMichael T. Williams, Ph.D., Associate Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neurology and Co-Director, Animal Behavior Core (CCHMC). Dr. Willams is interested in the study of developmental impacts, including genetic, environmental, and stress-related factors, on cognitive ability and behavioral sequelae throughout the lifetime. He has particular interest in the  developmental impacts of exposure to manganese. He is a multi-PI with Dr. Charles (Chip) Vorhees on NIEHS R01 ES032270, “Gene-pesticide interactions and ADHD” (8/2020– 2/2025) and serves as Associate Director on NIH T32 ES07051 (PI: Vorhees) Training Grant in Teratology. CEG Full member.

Photo of Senu Apewokin, MDSenu Apewokin, M.D., Associate Professor, UC College of Medicine Department of Internal Medicine, Divisiion of Infectious Diseases.Diseases. Dr. Apewokin's research interests are in the efficacy of vaccinations and in infectious disease in transplant patients.  In 2019, he received a CEG New to EHS Pilot award, “Association between PFOA Exposure and Humoral Responses to Pneumococcal Vaccines” (25K). He also has a K08 award from the National Cancer Institute, 06/01/20 – 5/31/2025,  “Harnessing induced human intestinal organoids (IHIOS) and metagenomics to unravel host immune-microbiota interactions during cancer chemotherapy-associated clostridium difficile infections.” CEG Clinical member.

Photo of Nalinikanth Kotagiri, PhDNalinikanth Kotagiri, Ph.D., MBBS, Assistant Professor, UC College of Pharmacy. Dr. Nalinikanth's research interests are primarily in therapeutic agents, but recently Dr. Kotagiri was awarded a $484,000 DoD grant to protect skin from ultraviolet light: MRP Idea Award:,“Engineering skin microbiome to generate natural sunscreens for prevention of melanoma” (Role PI. 7/1/21 – 6/30/24). CEG Associate member.

Photo head shot of John ReichardDr. John Reichard, Ph.D., 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). CEG Associate member.

Photo head shot of Dr. Edward J. Merino, also known as Eddie MerinoEdward J. Merino, Ph.D., 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 (R15 ES029675). CEG Full member.

Photo head shot of Dr. William E. MillerWilliam Miller, Ph.D., 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. CEG Full member.

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Photo of Michelle Burbage, PhDMichelle Burbage, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Public Health Sciences, has been named co-leader of the CEG Community Engagement Core (CEC). Dr. Burbage will work alongside CEC Director Nicholas Newman, D.O., M.S., and Program Manager Angela Larck, MSOL, to advance community-based participatory research and the translation of scientific knowledge among grassroots partners. Dr. Burbage has worked on projects with the Ronald McDonald House, Urban Appalachian Council, YWCA’s mammogram outreach program, and local schools and health departments. In 2018 Burbage received the prestigious Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Fellowship of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The Community Engagement Core provides fosters bi-directional communication between population and bench scientists specializing in the study of gene-environment interactions and stakeholders throughout our region.

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    Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals Research Focus Group meets on the 2nd Thursday of each month. All are welcome.  For details please contact Katherine Burns, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental and Public Health Sciences. For details about the CEG's ImmunoToxicology Forum contact Jagjit Yadav, PhD.  For details about the Smoking-related Cancers Research Focus Group contact Scott Langevin, MHA, PhD.  All are welcome.

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    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 on Navigating ASSIST for Human Subjects and Clinical Trials, presented by 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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    Yolton, Cecil, Ryan Team earns $5 million NIEHS R01 Award

    Kim Yolton Kim Cecil Patrick Ryan CCHMCCEG Internal Advisory Board member Kimberly Yolton, PhD, Professor and  Director of Research Section, General and Community Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and fellow CEG members Patrick H. Ryan, PhD, MS, Professor of Pediatrics, and Kim Cecil, PhD, Professor in the Department of Radiology, have received a new 5-year NIEHS R01 award: Longitudinal Impact of Air Pollution on Mental Health and Neuroimaging Outcomes during Adolescence in the Cincinnati Combined Childhood Cohorts (C4). R01 ES031621. Co-PI Patrick H. Ryan, PhD, MS, Professor of Pediatrics, and co-investigator Kim Cecil, PhD, are also CEG members. Project start-end 3/3/2021–12/31/2025, total 2021 funding $1.1 million.

    The team will use existing longitudinal data from the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study (CCAAPS) and the Health Outcomes and Measures of the Environment (HOME) Study to address the hypothesis that exposure to air pollution during critical periods of brain development, including adolescence, is associated with adverse mental health outcomes.

    Both prospective cohorts have been followed from birth and evaluated with concordant measures of mental health and neuroimaging at age 12 years. The team will conduct new follow-up at age 18 years to assess the onset and persistence of mental health outcomes through adolescence and apply validated models for PM2.5 and TRAP to characterize air pollution exposure from conception through age 18 years. The team also will acquire novel neuroimaging outcomes, including brain-aminobutyric acid and glutathione concentrations accompanied by anatomical and functional magnetic resonance imaging.

    The team aims  to determine (1) the association between exposure to PM2.5 and TRAP during distinct developmental periods and the onset and persistence of mental health outcomes in adolescence; (2) the association between exposure to PM2.5 and TRAP during distinct developmental periods and neuroimaging outcomes in late adolescence; and (3) whether changes in brain volume, organization, metabolism, and function mediate associations between PM2.5 and TRAP exposure and mental health outcomes.
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    Department of Environmental and Public Health Sciences
    Center for Environmental Genetics
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