Childhood asthma, particularly in urban environments, is a source of significant morbidity. Children spend the majority of their day in school. The immediate goal of this project is to determine the role of changes in school-specific environmental exposures and genetic factors and asthma morbidity. The Candidate/PI is a board-certified allergist/immunologist with a MS in clinical epidemiology and runs a NIH funded asthma/allergy clinical research center. She has expertise in patient-oriented clinical research and mentoring. Her environment includes unparalleled community relationships, infrastructure, resources, and collaborators. Career Development Goals are to ensure that the candidate will be provided sufficient time for mentoring and patient oriented clinical research activities. The award will also allow her to further her education in statistical methods, study design, and gene-environment interactions to help her expand her patient oriented research program. This will allow us to move towards our overall goal of further our understanding of epigenetic/environmental interactions to design and implement more effective school focused interventions to reduce the severity and incidence of childhood asthma. The research hypothesis is that changes in classroom/school specific allergen/mold exposure levels will be associated with epigenetic changes in methylation, airway inflammation, and asthma symptoms. We will compare our methylation markers on selected genes potentially important in asthma with changes in the classroom-specific allergen/mold exposure and asthma health outcomes. We will also compare these results in a subset of age/gender matched students without asthma as controls attending the same classrooms to further the interpretation of our findings. The impact of this research may result in novel biomarkers that could inform us about the efficacy of school-based interventions against environmental exposures important to childhood asthma and its immune modulation, addressing a critical public health problem.

Public Health Relevance

We aim to determine the role of changes in school-specific environmental exposures and genetic/epigenetic factors and asthma morbidity. By furthering our understanding of mechanisms behind modifiable epigenetic/environmental risk factors, we may be able to design and implement more cost and time efficient school-based environmental interventions that may potentially help a community of children with asthma, allergic diseases, and its associated morbidity.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Midcareer Investigator Award in Patient-Oriented Research (K24)
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Allergy & Clinical Immunology-1 (AITC)
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Prograis, Lawrence J
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Children's Hospital Boston
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