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Your Environment. Your Health.

Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH)

Program Lead

Liam R. O'Fallon
Liam O'Fallon, M.A.
Program Analyst

Tel (919) 541-7733
Fax (919) 316-4606
ofallon@niehs.nih.gov

 

Program Description

PEPH is a network of scientists, community members, educators, healthcare providers, public health officials, and policymakers who share the goal of increasing the impact of environmental public health research at the local, regional, and national level. PEPH defines environmental public health as the science of conducting and translating research into action to address environmental exposures and health risks of concern to the public.

Grantees: for information on how to access the PEPH Resource Center, please contact Liam O'Fallon or Lynn Albert. You can also visit the NIEHS Research Partners page ( http://partners.niehs.nih.gov/ ) to access the Resource Center and other NIEHS shared datasets and applications.

 

Engaging Epigenetics: A New Video Breaks Down Complex Concepts

A short new video  produced by the Center for Ecogenetics and Environmental Health (CEEH) and the Center for Genomics and Healthcare Equality (CGHE) at the University of Washington (UW) uses animation and simple terminology to introduce the concept of epigenetics. Created by doctoral student Lorelei Walker in collaboration with Evan Stuart Productions, the video breaks down the complex topic for a general audience and also suggests steps people can take to reduce their exposure to harmful environmental chemicals.

“Though epigenetic pathways are complex and non-linear, this concept is direct,” said Walker. “We believe that by teaching epigenetics in the context of individual and population level exposures, we can increase awareness of environmental toxicants, improve genetic literacy across a broad public audience, and continue current environmental health conversations,” she explained.

The three-minute animation begins at the cellular level, explaining how epigenetics regulates genes by turning them on or off and how environmental exposures can change the way our genes are regulated. Air pollution, pesticides, and bisphenol A (BPA) are used as examples of chemicals in the environment that can alter gene regulation to affect health. The video explains how people come into contact with these harmful chemicals, often ingesting or inhaling them in their everyday lives. The susceptibility of children and pregnant women to potential health effects of these chemicals is also highlighted. The video concludes with a few broad suggestions of how people can reduce their exposure to harmful environmental chemicals, such as avoiding products that contain BPA, limiting foods with high pesticide residues, and helping to reduce air pollution.

The video , which has already been viewed over 850 times on YouTube, is a great outreach tool for teachers, public health professionals, and other stakeholders to teach general audiences about epigenetics and environmental health. Also, be sure to check out the PEPH podcast, The Epigenome, - it’s a great companion piece to the video!

BCERP Researchers Featured on NPR’s Fresh Air

In a recent episode of NPR’s Fresh Air, NIEHS-funded researchers Julianna Deardorff, Ph.D., and Louise Greenspan, M.D., discussed how the environment may be driving the trend of today’s girls starting puberty earlier than girls several decades ago. The causes and consequences of early puberty is the topic of their new book, The New Puberty , in which Deardorff and Greenspan draw upon their research and clinical experience to explain the shift toward earlier puberty and offer practical strategies families can use to help prevent and manage early puberty.

“The dramatic shift towards earlier puberty in the U.S. has important potential health consequences at the population level,” explained Deardorff, who is an associate professor of maternal and child health at the University of California (UC) Berkeley School of Public Health. “Girls’ early puberty has been linked to a number of deleterious outcomes across the life course, including elevated risk for emotional and behavioral problems during adolescence, as well as long-term health issues in adulthood, such as breast cancer and cardiovascular disease.”

During the Fresh Air interview , Deardorff and Greenspan described the trend of early puberty and some of the environmental chemicals that may alter the timing of girls’ puberty. According to Greenspan, a significant number of girls today are showing signs of early breast development at 7 years old. Just a generation ago, less than 5 percent of girls started puberty before the age of 8. Deardorff and Greenspan also discussed the potential role of environmental chemicals, including bisphenol A, flame retardants, and organophosphate pesticides, in shifting the timing of puberty. Explaining that the science is still out on the health effects of these chemicals in humans, they go on to encourage people to limit their exposure and find safer alternatives to certain chemicals found in personal care and household products.

“The reason we wrote this book was to provide the lay audience with the information we had learned as scientists and researchers. For example, few people understand the concept of the Precautionary Principle. In the book, we explain this idea and also provide the tools for parents to be able to make more educated decisions in order to reduce exposures, when possible,” explained Greenspan, an associate clinical professor at the UC San Francisco School of Medicine.

Deardorff and Greenspan are co-investigators in the Cohort of Young Girls’ Nutrition, Environment, and Transitions (CYGNET) study, a long-term study of puberty led by Lawrence Kushi, Sc.D.  Co-funded by the NIEHS and the National Cancer Institute’s Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program (BCERP), CYGNET followed 444 girls from the San Francisco Bay area since 2005, when the girls were 6 to 8 years old, to determine how environmental, genetic, lifestyle, and psychosocial factors may contribute to early puberty.

Listen to the full Fresh Air interview  to hear Deardorff and Greenspan talk about the environmental, biological, and socioeconomic factors at play in the trend of early puberty. And be sure to check out their new book, The New Puberty  !

Educational Modules Help Pediatricians Connect Children's Health and Environment

Getting people to understand the link between their environment and health can be a challenge, especially at the doctor's office. The Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC)  at the University of Cincinnati Center for Environmental Genetics (CEG)  offers online Continuing Medical Education (CME) and Continuing Nursing Education (CNE) courses to help bridge the gap between pediatricians and nurses and environmental health issues. "Health care providers need to know about environmental triggers to disease and providing this information through CME/CNE is one viable option," said CEG COEC Director, Erin Haynes, Dr.P.H.  The "Pediatric Environmental Health"  module discusses concepts of pediatric environmental health and describes health effects, like atopic diseases, associated with common environmental exposures. A second module, "Environmental Management of Pediatric Asthma,"  provides a scientific overview of various environmental triggers of asthma in children and intervention strategies families can use to control environmental exposures at home. Teaching physicians and nurses how to ask environmental health history questions, such as "Where does your child spend his/her time?" or "What do the adults in the household do for a living?", often leads to answers that make a significant difference in the life of a child, said module author Nicholas Newman, D.O., M.S. 

The CEG COEC leveraged funds from NIEHS and the National Environmental Education Foundation  to develop and disseminate the modules, which are located on the CEG COEC's Educational Materials Web page. 

PEPH Evaluation Metrics Manual

The PEPH Evaluation Metrics Manual provides examples of tangible metrics that PEPH grantees and program staff can use for both planning and evaluation. Example logic models are used as a means to develop evaluation metrics for cross-cutting PEPH themes such as Partnerships, Leveraging, Products and Dissemination, Education and Training and Capacity Building. PEPH grantees (including all project partners) are the primary target audience for this document.

NEW! Online PEPH Evaluation Metrics Training

Current Issue of the PEPH Newsletter

USC COEC Creates Traffic Pollution Infographic

The Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC) at the University of Southern California (USC) Environmental Health Sciences Center recently launched an infographic for people who want to learn more about how their health is affected if they live or go to school in an area with lots of traffic pollution. Clicking on text in the infographic provides direct links to scientific research articles or additional resources related to traffic pollution. This is the first in a series of infographics the USC COEC is developing. Check out the new traffic pollution infographic  and be on lookout for more in the coming months!

New eBook Explores How Environment and Genes Interact to Affect Health across the Lifespan

A new multimedia eBook, A Story of Health , uses a case-based approach to let readers explore how our environments interact with our genes to influence health across the lifespan. The eBook offers free continuing education credits for health professionals through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention / Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). The eBook grounds the science of health in stories of fictional people, their families, and communities to enable readers to explore the risk factors for disease and learn how to prevent disease and promote health and resilience. Pop-up graphics and rollover functions reveal key concepts, relevant graphics, and links to videos presented by researchers. Download  the eBook for free and then use the hashtag — #StoryOfHealth — to share the eBook with stakeholders in your network and to follow how others are using the new resource!

A Story of Health was developed by ATSDR; the Collaborative on Health and the Environment; the University of California, San Francisco’s Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit; the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment; and the Science and Environmental Health Network.

PEPH Grantee Highlights

We are pleased to share with you the stories of two of our PEPH colleagues, Joe Taylor and Alexandra Anderson. Read a brief overview of their work below and visit the PEPH Grantee Highlights Web page to learn more about Taylor, Anderson, and other PEPH colleagues.

  • Joe Taylor
    Joe Taylor is Executive Director of Franklin’s Promise Coalition (FPC), an organization in Apalachicola, Florida that partners with a diverse network of researchers and community organizations to promote health and build community resilience. Partnering with the University of Florida on an NIEHS-funded project to examine the health impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Taylor and the FPC team use creative strategies, such as community drumming, square dancing, and the visual arts, to build trust and close the gap between researchers and the community. Check out the Joe Taylor PEPH Grantee Highlight to learn more about the unique approaches he uses to promote community resilience!
  • Alexandra Anderson
    Alexandra Anderson is the leader of the Youth Advisory Board (YAB) for the Cohort of Young Girls’ Nutrition, Environment, and Transitions (CYGNET) Study. The CYGNET Study aims to identify developmental, lifestyle, and environmental influences on the timing of puberty by following 444 girls in the San Francisco Bay Area. Two years ago, Anderson and her colleagues organized the CYGNET YAB as a way to get feedback from participants about the study and to teach the girls about environmental health. Anderson uses creative approaches to engage the participants in environmental health, such as a photo-voice project in which the girls took pictures of environmental health issues in their communities. Read the Alexandra Anderson PEPH Grantee Highlight for more about her efforts to engage youth in environmental health!

PEPH in the Environmental Factor

The latest issue of the NIEHS Environmental Factor features several stories highlighting our PEPH colleagues. Take a moment to catch up with some of the latest projects, events, and activities happening in the PEPH network:

  • The impacts of air pollution on the immune system . Kari Nadeau, M.D., Ph.D., teamed up with researchers from several universities in California, as well as NIEHS and the EPA, to form the Children’s Health and Air Pollution Study - San Joaquin Valley. The study aims to understand and reduce the risks of air pollution exposure to children living in California’s San Joaquin Valley.
  • NIEHS leads disaster research response project . Aubrey Miller, M.D., shared details of the new project, dubbed DR2, at the 2014 Worker Safety and Health Technical Conference this fall in Washington D.C.

PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast Series

PEPH Chat

Did you know that most obstetricians believe environmental contaminants are an important concern for pregnant women, yet most do not talk to their patients about these issues? In a new podcast, Preventing Prenatal Exposures , we hear from University of California, San Francisco professor Tracey Woodruff, Ph.D. about how women and their doctors can work together to reduce harmful exposures during pregnancy.

You can find past podcasts on the Environmental Health Chat Web page, or subscribe to the series on iTunes 

New Journal for Citizen Science Community – Call for Papers

Citizen Science: Theory and Practice , is a new open-access, peer-reviewed journal focused on advancing the field of citizen science by providing a central space for cross-disciplinary scholarly exchanges. The journal is currently accepting submissions of research papers, review and synthesis papers, case studies, and essays for the inaugural issue. See the journal’s focus and scope statement  for full details on submissions. Submit a paper by March 31, 2015 to be considered for the inaugural issue, which will be published in summer 2015!

National Health Security Preparedness Index Call for Measures

The Program Management Office for the National Health Security Preparedness Index is now soliciting recommendations for new measures  to be incorporated into future versions of the Index. The Index provides a tool for assessing and improving the nation’s readiness for large-scale health threats, disasters, and emergencies. Stakeholders having scientific or operational knowledge about strategies for reducing the impact of large-scale hazards, disasters, and emergencies on human health and wellbeing are invited to recommend new measures for inclusion in the Index. New measures that reflect social, economic, or environmental dimensions of preparedness and resilience are especially encouraged. Recommendations to change or eliminate existing measure definitions and specifications are also welcome. Recommendations must be received by February 15, 2015 to be considered for the next iteration of the Index. View the 2014 version of the Index and its associated documentation at nhspi.org .

Apply by February 16th for the CCPH Annual Award!

The Community-Campus Partnerships for Health (CCPH) Annual Award  was established in 2002 to highlight the power and potential of community-campus partnerships as a strategy for health equity and social justice. Each year, it recognizes exemplary partnerships between communities and academic institutions that are striving to achieve the systems and policy changes needed to overcome the root causes of health, social, environmental, and economic inequalities. Partnerships from anywhere in the world are invited to apply. The application submission deadline is February 16, 2015. The award will be presented at C2UExpo  in Ottawa, Ontario, May 26 - 29, 2015.

Job Opening: Project Coordinator for University of Illinois COTC

The Family Resiliency Center at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign is seeking to fill a full-time project coordinator position. The position will be responsible for coordinating the Community and Outreach Translation Core (COTC)  of the Children’s Environmental Health Center. The focus of the COTC is to translate research from the Children’s Center at Illinois into practical strategies and dissemination tools for parents, childcare providers, healthcare workers, and public health providers. This is a full-time, twelve-month, non-tenured, academic professional position. In order to receive full consideration, applications must be received by February 6, 2015. Visit the job details Web page  to view a full job description and to apply.

Upcoming PEPH-related Meetings

February 11-12, 2015: Citizen Science 2015 , in San Jose, California. This is the inaugural conference of the Citizen Science Association. Citizen science participants, researchers, project leaders, educators, technology specialists, evaluators, and others will gather to move the field forward.

February 27, 2015: 36th Annual Minority Health Conference  at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. This year’s conference will focus on the impact of socioeconomic factors on minority health, with an emphasis on health disparities in the aftermath of the recession. The conference will highlight recent research and best practices for advancing minority health by creating opportunities for mobility in the present period of economic recovery.

March 2 - 3, 2015: The Interplay between Environmental Exposures and Obesity  workshop at the NIEHS’s main campus in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. The workshop, hosted by the Institute of Medicine Roundtable, will explore the role of chemical exposures in the development of obesity through sessions focused on a lifespan view, possible biologic pathways and environmental influences, and effects of food additives and antibiotics. The workshop will be webcast for those who are unable to attend in person. Register  to attend and view the agenda  for more information on workshop sessions.

March 12-14, 2015: Eighth Health Disparities Conference  in New Orleans, Louisiana. The conference will focus on replicable interprofessional collaborative models and approaches from the clinical, research, and community arenas that integrate all levels of providers to improve health outcomes, eliminate health disparities, and achieve health equity.

March 18, 2015: 14th Annual Pediatric Research Day  in Detroit, Michigan. This year’s conference theme is Community Engagement in Child and Maternal Health. The conference is co-sponsored by the Michigan State University Superfund Research Program.

March 24 - 28, 2015: Society for Applied Anthropology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There will be several sessions  addressing PEPH-related issues of environmental justice, community-engaged research, citizen science, and hydraulic fracturing. Sara Wylie, Ph.D., will chair a session on fracking and citizen science on Tuesday, March 24, from 1:30 to 3:20 p.m., and members from several COECs will participate in a session on community-engaged research and fracking on Friday, March 27, from 1:30 to 3:20 p.m.

May 6 - 8, 2015: Save the date for the NIH Regional Seminar on Program Funding and Grants Administration  in Baltimore, Maryland. Each year, the NIH Office of Extramural Research (OER) sponsors these seminars to help demystify the application and review process, clarify Federal regulations and policies, and highlight current areas of special interest or concern. The seminars are appropriate for grants administrators, researchers new to NIH, and graduate students. These seminars often reach capacity, so start making plans to attend now! Registration is now open. In the meantime, you can access more information and a listserv option at the NIH OER Web page .

May 26 - 29, 2015: C2UExpo in Ottawa, Ontario. C2UExpo is an international conference designed to showcase best practices in community-campus partnerships; create space for collaboration around key issues; and foster ideas, connections, and frameworks with the purpose of strengthening communities. Registration will open in early 2015.

August 10 - 13, 2015: Save the date for the 16th International Conference of the Pacific Basin Consortium , in Depok, Indonesia! Traditional areas covered by PBC conferences include hazardous waste management and remediation, e-waste, air pollution, persistent toxic substances, emerging pollutants, global climate change, and children’s environmental health. See the 2015 Preliminary Program  for information on session topics.

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