Implementing the NIEHS Strategic Plan emphasis on Inflammation, the inflammation faculty is interested in advancing our understanding of the role of inflammation in human disease induced by the environment. The faculty, through organized activities, will attempt to highlight what is currently known, address key unresolved research questions, define knowledge gaps and discuss current state-of-the-science in inflammation that will inform NIEHS and the field.
Our faculty has held meetings and developed system-oriented subgroups to review ongoing activities related to inflammation and bring together the major personnel in these areas for focused discussions. We plan to develop processes and define research projects that can be rapidly and efficiently initiated to impact public health using existing infrastructure, cohorts, intramural/extramural scientists and expertise.
To accomplish NIEHS Strategic Goals 1, 2, 4, 7 & 8, the inflammation faculty has developed linkages to the Epigenetics, Predictive Toxicology and Disease, Knowledge Management and e-Science, and Website and Social Media Groups. As a trans-NIEHS faculty, we will attempt to address the following key unresolved questions in this area:
- Which environmental exposures, individually and in combination, cause or modify inflammation?
- Which genetic and other susceptibility factors influence the inflammatory response?
- Which inflammatory pathways and mechanisms are involved in environmentally induced inflammation to cause, exacerbate or ameliorate different diseases, and what are the relevant windows of susceptibility?
- What biomarkers exist for key events in the pathways?
- Are there common environmental triggers, pathways, and biomarkers across many diseases?
- Are there disease-specific triggers, pathways, and biomarkers?
Long-term impact of research investment
- Prevention: Better understanding of environmental effects on inflammation and pathways to inflammatory diseases, allowing for education and improved policies to limit adverse exposures in at-risk populations, and decrease the burden of environmentally-induced inflammation and inflammatory diseases
- Treatment: Development of novel interventional strategies to cure, or decrease the severity of, established environmentally-induced inflammatory diseases
- Prediction: Improved animal models and in vitro assays and biomarkers to produce adverse inflammatory effects resulting from current and emerging environmentally threats
- Recognition: Acknowledgement of NIEHS as the research and thought leader in environmentally-induced inflammatory processes and disease
Short-term impact of research investment
- Defining the Role of the Environment in Inflammation:Identification of additional environmental factors and their roles in impacting incidence, progression, and/or exacerbation of inflammation and inflammatory diseases. Understanding mechanisms linking environmental exposures, inflammation pathways, and disease – particularly neurologic, cardiopulmonary, obesity/metabolic, neoplastic, reproductive, and autoimmune disorders. Definition of biomarkers that distinguish the harmful effects of inflammation from inflammation associated with normal physiologic processes (e.g., wound healing, post-infectious inflammation, etc.)
- Enhancing Tools and Communication for Inflammation Research: Increasing the visibility, availability, and integration of clinical, epidemiologic, animal models and in vitro assay databases – as well as bio repositories, informatics research tools, and other user-friendly resources – to understand inflammatory processes and related diseases and how they are influenced by the environment and genetics. Promoting and communicating our understanding of the role of environment in inflammation and inflammatory disease: 1) across NIEHS; 2) in the broader scientific community; and 3) in public and education.
- Fostering Collaborative Inflammation Research: Creating a cadre of environmental health scientists with expertise in the mechanisms, toxicology, pathology, genetics and exposure science and basic and clinical aspects of immune responses and inflammatory mechanisms of disease. Expansion of interdisciplinary collaborative research networks/consortia facilitating bench-to-field and field-to-bench translational science that advances mechanistic understanding of the role of the environment in inflammation and inflammatory disease and its application to clinical and public health goals.
The trans-NIEHS Inflammation Working Group will facilitate to review ongoing and planned research, periodically assess strategic goals and objectives, facilitate new-cross divisional collaborations and guide implementation in the following areas of interest:
- Define available resources, prioritizing research needs and developing needed infrastructure for inflammation research and education
- Expand epidemiological, clinical and mechanistic understanding of the environment’s impact on inflammatory cardiopulmonary disease, cancer and autoimmunity in cost-effective ways and using cross-Divisional expertise
- Define risk factors for inflammation and disease
- Molecular profiling of human and animal model samples to identify genomic, epigenetic, proteomic and metabolic biomarkers associated with exposure and specific disease outcomes using cross-Divisional scientific expertise.
Why the scientific community should join us:
- Achieve better understanding of environmental effects on inflammation pathways, allowing for education and improved policies to limit adverse exposures in at-risk populations, and decrease the burden of environmentally induced inflammatory diseases;
- Advance development of novel interventional strategies to cure, or decrease the severity of, established environmentally induced inflammatory diseases;
- Improve animal models, in vitro assays and biomarkers to predict adverse inflammatory effects resulting from current and emerging environmental threats;
- Play a part in acknowledging NIEHS as the research and thought leader in environmentally-induced inflammatory processes and disease and;
- Ultimately achieve significant advance in public health.
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For more information or to join the Cross-Divisional Inflammation Faculty, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.