Join a Health Study or Clinical Trial
The NIEHS supports and conducts studies to determine how exposure to chemicals or other agents in the environment may influence a variety of diseases. Please see Join a Health Study or Clinical Trial for more information.
Clinical Research Facilities
The Clinical Research Program works with patients in two facilities:
- Clinical Research Unit in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina
- NIEHS at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland
Additionally, the Office of Human Research Compliance provides ethical and regulatory oversight of research that involves human subjects.
For Investigators: About the Clinical Research Program
The Clinical Research Program, led by Acting Director Stavros Garantziotis, M.D., encompasses the following branches and research groups:
- The NIEHS Office of Human Research Compliance (OHRC) supports NIEHS researchers by ensuring that human research subjects’ protection is at the forefront of clinical research planning.
- The NIEHS Clinical Research Unit is the facility that supports study planning, subject recruitment and research conduct.
- The NIEHS Office of Clinical Research provides administrative support to the other Clinical Research Program components.
Many human diseases result from environmental exposures that can affect individuals who are genetically susceptible to the development of a disease. The NIEHS has an active research program that investigates the mechanisms of such diseases. The mission of the Clinical Research Program is to enhance NIEHS-led research by:
- Translating basic laboratory findings to humans
- Studying interactions between genetic susceptibility (host factors) and environmental factors in the pathogenesis of complex human traits and diseases
- Identifying populations at risk and developing novel preventative and therapeutic strategies to combat human diseases
The Clinical Research Program pursues this mission by:
- Developing resources and systems for NIEHS investigators involved in the conduct of human investigation
- Fostering growth in clinical research and building new areas of collaboration between basic and clinical scientists
- Providing an effective interface between investigators, health care professionals, the clinical research unit and other clinical facilities in the Research Triangle Park area.
- Developing and conducting clinical research educational programs for investigators, coordinators and administrators
- Minimizing obstacles to translational research at NIEHS
The Clinical Research Program supports multiple NIEHS research groups that focus on a wide variety of environmental conditions including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, reproductive diseases, neurological disorders, cancer and many others. The ultimate goal of the CRP is to combat environmentally-induced human disease in three substantive ways:
- Developing better diagnostic tools to identify high risk populations for environmentally induced diseases
- Developing novel therapeutic strategies
- Developing novel preventative strategies
Research Programs in Clinical Research
Environmental Cardiopulmonary Disease Group
The Environmental Cardiopulmonary Disease Group, led by Darryl Zeldin, M.D., is active in clinical research on asthma and the environment. The group has conducted large national cross-sectional studies which provide estimates of indoor allergen and endotoxin exposures in the U.S. population and which examine the relationship between those exposures and allergy and asthma. Currently, the group is conducting several asthma prevention trials to determine if environmental intervention aimed at reducing indoor allergen levels can prevent allergic sensitization and decrease asthma prevalence in high-risk children.
Matrix Biology Group
The Matrix Biology Group, headed by Stavros Garantziotis, M.D., studies cell-matrix interactions in the pulmonary response to environmental or alloimmune lung injury. The group has identified novel interactions and functions for a serum protein, called inter-alpha-trypsin inhibitor, which can bind to extracellular components such as complement, hyaluronan and other extracellular matrix (ECM) elements. These interactions influence the development of inflammation, angiogenesis, and re-epithelialization after injury. Research performed by the Matrix Biology Group will expand these findings and investigate the framework in which ECM can influence the cellular response to environmental injury.
Environmental Autoimmunity Group
The mission of the Environmental Autoimmunity Group is to understand the mechanisms for the development of autoimmune diseases so that group members can extend healthy life and reduce the burdens of illness and disability. It is led by Frederick W. Miller, M.D., Ph.D.
Environmental Innate Immunity Group
Michael Fessler, M.D., is the principal investigator for the Environmental Innate Immunity Group. The group has two major research goals: 1) to study the role of endogenous regulators of cholesterol/membrane trafficking in initiation and regulation of TLR signaling and 2) to examine the regulatory influence of innate immunity in host cholesterol metabolism.
Oxidative Stress Mechanisms & Clinical Effects Group
The Oxidative Stress Mechanisms & Clinical Effects Group utilizes genetic/genomic, molecular/cellular, and population-based experimental approaches to understand the mechanisms through which oxidative stress contributes to the pathogenesis of disease. The group is directed by Steven Kleeberger, Ph.D.
Reproductive Medicine Group
The Reproductive Medicine Group, lead by Carmen J. Williams, M.D., Ph.D., examines the molecular basis of early reproductive events including gamete maturation and function, fertilization, and implantation.