The University of Michigan-NIEHS Center is a new entity that will bring together basic and translational scientists into a partnership focused on the theme of "Lifestage Exposures and Adult Disease". The mission is to promote translational research using novel multi-disciplinary approaches to understand the impact of environmental exposures on adult chronic disease through mechanisms involving epigenetic modifications during vulnerable stages of life. This is the culmination of a 2-year planning process of building collaborations (including a major partnership with the CTSA) and functioning as a de-facto preliminary Center. The robust base of research includes projects addressing a variety of environmental toxicants, a large portfolio of cohort studies (and associated biorepositories) spanning the age spectrum, disease-specific research Centers (and associated tissue banks), and basic research on epigenetic mechanisms. In this revised application, the investigators retain their recognized strengths while increasing their focus, decreasing their targeted areas from 6 to 3, each now associated with a Research Team with senior leadership, and decreasing their membership by almost 40%. The investigators'Research Teams will focus on "Epigenetic Regulation", "Oxidative Stress" and "Endocrine Disruptors", subthemes that build off of the Center's strengths. The work starts with an initial emphasis on four diseases well-represented in the investigators'current research portfolio (asthma, prematurity, metabolic syndrome, and neurodegenerative disease), with the flexibility to expand as the Center grows and matures. The Center will sponsor seminars;a Pilot Project Program that capitalizes on major institutional leveraging;outstanding young Center scientists;and outreach and education to the broader scientific and lay community. The research will be facilitated by an Administrative Core and five service cores related to Exposures, Biological Responses, Integrative Health Sciences, Environmental Statistics and Bioinformatics. The Integrated Health Sciences Core will manage a web-based portal providing an innovative interactive kiosk for obtaining critical information on the resources, Core facilities, and tools for research. Core faculty will also provide "translational services", for consulting on the design of translational research and use of their biorepositories and Core facilities. A revised Community Outreach and Education Core will work with the investigators and a Stakeholder Advisory Board to engage in an enhanced range of activities. Administration of the Center will be facilitated by an active Executive Committee and outstanding scientists serving on the External Advisory Committee.
Our Center's work promises to improve our understanding of (a) the contribution of environmental exposures towards the etiology of multiple adult chronic diseases;(b) lifestage(s) of vulnerability to such exposure effects;(c) and the role of epigenetic and other mechanisms in such effects. These insights, in turn, will create major new opportunities for preventing and treating the same adult chronic disease.
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