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  • CEG News at a Glance, 2022 May\June: PDF
  • CEG News at a Glance, 2022 April\May: PDF

New Investigator Award (NIA) Nominations due by  June 17: On a biennial basis, the CEG recognizes up to three New Investigator Awardees (NIA’s) for a 2-year term. These are promising junior faculty members with demonstrated interest in environmental health science. NIA’s receive $25,000 in salary support and associated benefits each year.  Applications for New Investigator Awards must include a nomination letter from the proposed mentor, copies of the applicant’s and mentor’s CVs, and a personal statement by the applicant specifying his or her plans for environmental health research over the 2-years of CEG funding. The statement should include planned grant submissions to NIEHS. Submit with the cover form available here: Link to downloadable Word file.

The CEG invites applications for Pilot project funding during the current grant year (4/1/22 – 3/31/23) for the study of gene-environment interactions. The RFA is available in Word and PDF format on our  Pilot Program pages. Proposal deadline: 5:00 PM June 3, 2022. 

As reported in the Dean's List (May 16) Richard Woychik, PhD, Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) visited Cincinnati on May 10 and met with community members and CEG investigators to discuss environmental health issues in Cincinnati:

Group photo at Roebling Bridge“I really enjoyed meeting the investigators behind the work that we support at the University of Cincinnati,” Woychik said. “I greatly appreciated the time that Dean Andrew Filak, Dr. George Leikauf, and Dr. Susan Pinney spent with me, and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about the work of investigators Drs. Katherine Burns, Senu Apewokin and Angelico Mendy, who are clearly very capable and will help drive the future of environmental health sciences.” 

Pinney, professor in the Department of Environmental and Public Health Sciences (DEPHS) and director of the CEG, coordinated Woychik’s visit. Burns, associate professor in the DEPHS, discussed her research on endocrine disrupting chemicals and endometriosis. Apewokin, associate professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, addressed per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances and response to pneumococcal vaccination. Mendy, assistant professor in the DEPHS, discussed air pollution and COVID-19. 

Woychik and O’Fallon joined several DEPHS faculty members in visiting two locations in Cincinnati to discuss health issues. Visit stops included Smale Park along Cincinnati’s waterfront, where Dave Schmitt, executive director of the Mill Creek Alliance, led a discussion on water issues, and Groundwork Ohio River Valley in Price Hill, where Alan Edwards, chief executive officer of the organization, presented their air pollution monitoring project.

“I was especially impressed by the Community Engagement Core that’s under the direction of Dr. Nick Newman,” Woychik said. Newman also is assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics. “And, I was really inspired by the community member presentations from Urban Health Pathway director Dena Cranley and Center for Closing the Health Gap CEO Renee Mahaffey. Visiting the neighborhoods and talking with residents just reinforced the importance that community engagement plays in helping us achieve our mission at NIEHS,” Woychik added.   

Pictured above, left to right: Dave Schmitt, executive director, Mill Creek Alliance; Michelle Burbage, PhD, assistant professor, DEPHS; Susan Pinney, PhD, professor and CEG director; Nick Newman, DO, MS, FAAP assistant professor, Department of Pediatrics & CEC leader; Richard Woychik, PhD, director, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; Liam O’Fallon, health specialist, NIEHS Human Population Branch; George Leikauf, PhD, Jacob G. Schmidlapp Chair of Environmental & Public Health Sciences; Jagjit Yadav, PhD, CEG deputy director and professor, DEPHS; Katherine Burns, PhD, associate professor, DEPHS; Chuck Doarn, MBA, professor, DEPHS. 

The community forum, which was attended by local government and public health officials and community leaders to discuss precision environmental health and its significance for the region, attracted more than 80 people.

Coon Research Group BenefieldOn April 20 the CEG was pleased to host Desiree A. Benefield, PhD, a research scientist in the UC Cardiovascular Research Center, for her presentation on Cryo Electron Microscopy: CryoEM Capabilities at UC. Dr. Benefield has used advanced Cryo-em techniques to advance understanding of positive-strand RNA virus genome replication mechanisms. This seminar featured CryoEM core facility services coming available as of July 2022. 

Dr. Benefield's talk was designed to highlight yet another new resource at UC and CCHMC and is part of lecture series organized by the CEG Integrative Technologies Support (ITS) Core, led by Ying Xia, PhD. Co-leader: Ranjan Deka, PhD. In March, the ITS Core hosted a seminar on Highly efficient CRISPR editing and inducible CRISPRi/a/ko services. Presented by Dr. Yueh-Chiang Hu, director of the Transgenic Animal and Genome Editing Core, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC), March 30th.

Photo of Yueh Chian Hu, PhDThe Transgenic and Genome Editing Core has expanded its conventional services to include transgenic and chimeric animal production, cryopreservation, embryo transfer, BAC transgenics, mouse stem cell targeting and mouse recovery via IVF, ICSI or ROSI. In collaboration with the Pluripotent Stem Cell Facility at CCHMC, it has also established streamlined hiPS cell gene editing services. The core's services are in such high demand that Dr. Hu and colleagues have tripled the size of their team since 2013. The TAGE core has completed hundreds of genome editing projects, at a pace of one per week, with few failures. These and other previously recorded seminars may be viewed courtesy of the DEPHS Graduate Office.

Portrait of Xiang Zhang PhDThe Genomics and Epigenomics Sequencing Core (GESC), managed by Xiang Zhang, PhD, has updated its online form for requesting services: 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 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 proudly welcomed these new members in 2021:

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 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 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 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. 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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    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 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 jeopardize individual and Center funding; hence, this guidance on Navigating ASSIST for Human Subjects and Clinical Trials, 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 is using 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.


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    Department of Environmental and Public Health Sciences
    Center for Environmental Genetics
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