The University of Louisville?s (UofL) Center for Integrative Environmental Health Science (CIEHS) brings together a multidisciplinary group of investigators working together to develop a framework to understand the complexities of and to integrate the interactions between environmental toxicants, life style factors, life stage, genetics and gender and their roles in human health and disease. The CIEHS is uniquely positioned to build transdisciplinary teams to tackle these problems by virtue of the multidisciplinary expertise of its members and its geographic location. The Louisville Regional Community, composed of Metropolitan Louisville and the counties of western Kentucky, is a unique mix of urban and rural environments with industrial and agricultural exposures that is a microcosm of the United States. The region is plagued by rates of chronic disease (e.g. cardiovascular, diabetes, cancer, etc.), all with environmental etiologies, that are among the highest in the nation. The CIEHS facilitates research and training focused on: (1) exposure to industrial chemicals present in the urban and rural KY environments (metals, VOCs, PCBs, vinyl chloride, etc.), (2) lifestyle factors (diet, alcohol, socioeconomic stressors, obesity, etc.), and the modifications to response by life stage, genetics and gender in development of chronic adult diseases. CIEHS is organized into three multi-disciplinary research interest groups (multi-organ toxicology, cancer, and neurodevelopmental toxicology). The Integrated Health Science Facility Core promotes translation of basic science including assistance with both adult and pediatric clinical trials. The Community Engagement Core promotes multi-directional communication between CIEHS investigators and community groups with special focus on rural health care providers and youth groups. The Pilot Project Program provides resources supporting new environmental health investigators, collaborations between CIEHS members and established investigators bringing new skill sets to environmental health problems, new avenues of environmental health research by CIEHS members, and community-engaged and community-led research in collaboration with CIEHS members. A Career Development Program provides mentorship and support to new junior, as well as mid-level, investigators. These activities are supported by two facility cores (biostatistics and informatics, and integrated toxicomics and environmental measurements). The CIEHS provides leadership in environmental health research, promotes investigation of the interactions of chronic exposure to environmental toxicants and lifestyle factors in pathogenesis, and develops the next generation of environmental health researchers. Our studies utilize model systems in the laboratory, the larger ecosystem by investigation of pollution effects on wildlife, and the human laboratory provided by the Louisville Regional Community in collaboration with community partners.
The goal of the University of Louisville Center for Integrative Environmental Health Sciences is to understand how exposure to environmental toxicants interacts with life style factors and how these co-exposures impact human health and disease, as modified by life stage and gender. This knowledge will provide better prevention and intervention strategies to improve the health of the people in western Kentucky.