The Institute's extramural division supports a variety of programs and centers to address a range of environmental health issues and to better understand how environmental agents cause or exacerbate human diseases and disorders. These programs are organized in different ways to accomplish an array of goals to advance the NIEHS mission. Across the programs, scientists pursue the full spectrum of research: basic, applied, clinical, and community-based approaches. Some centers support community outreach and translation activities to ensure that research emanating from the center can be used by community organizations, health care professionals, or policy makers. Several of the programs are administered in partnership with other NIH institutes or federal agencies.
NIEHS supports research projects investigating whether various contaminants, together with genetic susceptibility, increase the risk for developing autism. Three keystone projects funded by NIEHS are the Childhood Autism Risks from Genes and the Environment (CHARGE) study, the Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation (EARLI) study, and the Markers of Autism Risk in Babies—Learning Early Signs (MARBLES).
Bisphenol A (BPA) Research Program
NIEHS-funded research is investigating the potential health effects of bisphenol A (BPA), which is found in some plastics and epoxy resins.
Breast Cancer & the Environment Research Program
NIEHS-funded breast cancer research is studying how the environment interfaces with other factors, such as early puberty, to shape risk for breast cancer. The Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program supports multidisciplinary scientists, clinicians, and community partners studying environmental exposures during windows of susceptibility.
Centers for Children's Environmental Health & Disease Prevention Research
NIEHS Centers for Children's Environmental Health & Disease Prevention Research support transdisciplinary research aimed at understanding and identifying the health effects that environmental exposures have on children. Scientists at these highly collaborative centers work with community partners and health care providers to reduce children's exposure to contaminants.
Centers for Neurodegeneration Science
NIEHS Centers for Neurodegeneration Science (CNS) are advancing our understanding of the biologic mechanisms that lead to neurodegenerative diseases. At each CNS, teams of top scientists from different disciplines collaborate to examine how environmental exposures such as pesticides, acting together with genetic variation, can lead to diseases including Parkinson’s disease. The information gained can suggest new approaches to prevent and treat neurodegenerative diseases.
Children's Health Exposure Analysis Resource (CHEAR)
Children's health and wellbeing are influenced by interactions between environmental and genetic factors. NIEHS is establishing an infrastructure, the Children's Health Exposure Analysis Resource (CHEAR), to provide the extramural research community access to laboratory and data analyses to add or expand the inclusion of environmental exposures in their children's health research.
Climate Change and Human Health Research
The NIEHS Human Health Impacts of Climate Change (HHICC) program funds research aimed at understanding the health impacts of climate change and how strategies used to adapt to or lessen climate change might affect health adversely.
Deepwater Horizon Research Consortia
The Deepwater Horizon Research Consortia is a trans-NIH effort led by NIEHS to identify any personal and community health effects stemming from the Gulf oil spill. The five-year, $25.2 million program supports a network of community and university partnerships, which will help develop the scientific evidence base needed to promote the protection of people living along the Gulf Coast.
Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
Researchers supported by NIEHS are working to increase the knowledge of how certain diseases or conditions originate during critical windows of development. This knowledge will be used to form better strategies for disease prevention.
Genome Integrity & Environmental Stress
NIEHS-supported researchers are studying DNA repair processes that identify and correct DNA damage that can occur after various environmental exposures. This research will advance efforts to prevent, detect, and treat diseases in which DNA damage plays a role.
Epigenetics is the study of changes in the way information stored in DNA is expressed, without direct modification of the genetic code. Some epigenetic changes are part of normal development and aging, but environmental health scientists are most concerned with studying how environmental factors can cause negative epigenetic changes. The NIEHS environmental epigenetics program provides funding for a variety of research projects that use state-of-the-art technologies to analyze epigenetic changes caused by environmental exposures.
Environmental Health Sciences Core Centers
NIEHS Environmental Health Sciences Core Centers facilitate vital scientific collaboration, stimulate new discoveries, and work to efficiently address environmental health problems. At 21 centers across the country, NIEHS provides funding for scientific equipment, facilities, and other resources that are shared among researchers tackling environmental health questions.
Exposure Biology and the Exposome
NIEHS-funded exposure biology researchers are looking at collections of environmental exposures rather than single events and are also working to measure exposures more precisely than previously possible. From 2007-2010, research on exposure biology and genetics was coordinated through the Genes, Environment, and Health Initiative.
Nanotechnology is yielding exciting advances and applications in medicine, industry, and consumer products. Researchers funded by NIEHS are studying the potential health impacts of nanomaterials and are also using nanomaterials to develop ways to better detect and remove contaminants from the environment.
Oceans and Human Health
NIEHS-funded researchers study the many ways oceans affect human health. For example, eating contaminated seafood, swimming in polluted water, and exposure to harmful algal bloom outbreaks can all cause health problems.
Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH)
The Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH) umbrella program brings together scientists, community members, educators, health care providers, public health officials, and policy makers to advance the impact of environmental public health research on local, regional, and national levels.
Superfund Research Program
The Superfund Research Program (SRP) is a network of university-based basic research and training grants that seeks solutions to the complex health and environmental issues associated with the nation's hazardous waste sites. The program features integrated health and environmental research with an emphasis on community engagement and research translation (moving basic research from lab to field).
Worker Training Program
The Worker Education and Training Program funds non-profit organizations developing and delivering high quality training to workers who are involved in handling hazardous waste or in responding to emergency releases of hazardous materials.
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