The theme of the UW Interdisciplinary Center for Exposures, Diseases, Genomics and Environment (EDGE Center) is Biochemical and Molecular Mechanisms Underlying Human Variability in Response to Environmental Exposures. The investigators envision a future in which world-class EHS research informs policy and practice to significantly reduce the burden of environmentally related diseases. The purpose of this NIEHS Core Center is to provide the administrative infrastructure and technical support necessary to foster multidisciplinary collaborations that will extend basic mechanistic studies on environmental health problems to direct applications in human populations. The EDGE Center will continue to have an emphasis on gene x environment interactions. This Center consists of 57 Environmental Health Sciences (EHS) Core investigators and 30 other investigators involved in Clinical and Translational Sciences (CTS) research at the UW, organized into 5 disease-based Collaborative Research Teams (CRTs): 1) Environment & Cancer 2) Developmental & Reproductive Disorders 3) Neurodegenerative Diseases 4) Cardiopulmonary & Metabolic Diseases 5) Hepatic, Renal & Gastrointestinal Diseases The funded research of EHS Core faculty is enhanced by 3 Facility Cores which provide Center investigators access to: 1) an Integrated Environmental Health Sciences Facility Core that fosters Clinical and Translational population-based research, Bioinformatics & Biostatistics Services and access to Microphysiological Systems technologies; 2) Functional Genomics, Proteomics and Metabolomics technologies, including high-throughput genotyping, next generation DNA and RNA sequencing, microarray analysis, epigenetic profiling, and mass spectrometry-based proteomics and metabolomics; and 3) Exposure Biomarkers and Environmental Sensing assessment tools. In addition, the Center supports exploratory research projects into innovative new ideas related to the theme of the Center each year through a Pilot Projects Program. A Community Outreach and Ethics Core provides a mechanism to connect Center investigators, community partners, and other stakeholders in productive bi-directional EHS-focused dialogue and activities. The resources available through the EDGE Center have assisted members in achieving their fullest potential as EHS investigators. Center involvement has resulted in numerous publications, research grants, and training opportunities. Of the 87 current EDGE members, 32 are principal investigators on 41 research or training grants that are active as of April 1, 2016. The total annual direct costs for these grants are slightly over $17 M, of which approximately 87% ($15.5 M) is from NIH. EDGE faculty members are principal investigator on 15 NIEHS grants that extend beyond April 1, 2016, totaling over $5.2 M in annual direct costs.
The EDGE Center fosters novel research on molecular signatures associated with toxicant exposures using modern molecular and systems biology approaches to explain interactions between genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors and how these contribute to both acute and chronic diseases of public health importance. Through discovery of important genetic, epigenetic and environmental determinants of chronic diseases, novel approaches to prevention, early diagnosis and effective treatments can be developed that will substantially reduce the social burden and health care costs associated with premature morbidity and mortality from environmentally related diseases. Such diseases include many forms of cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, liver disease, kidney disease, metabolic disorders, chronic neurodegenerative diseases and developmental and reproductive disorders. Thus, the EDGE Center is dedicated to contributing to evidence-based changes in regulatory policy and public health or medical practice that result in a reduction in the burden of environmentally related diseases.
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