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Your Environment. Your Health.

Maintaining and Enriching Environmental Epidemiology Cohorts

collage of diverse people smiling

NIEHS makes significant investments in human population studies that help scientists better understand how environmental exposures affect health during different stages of life. Using environmental epidemiology cohorts, these studies advance our understanding of how exposure to harmful chemicals, lifestyle factors, and genetics contribute to health and disease, and are a valuable resource to the entire environmental health community.

Cohort studies are a type of research design in which scientists follow groups of people over time. In these groups, people have common characteristics, such as sex, age, or race, or exposures, such as from where they live or work. Establishing and maintaining these cohorts requires time, personnel, money, and infrastructure.

Program Goals

  • Improving data collection for understudied populations in environmental epidemiology studies.
  • Promoting greater scientific collaboration in environmental health science.
  • Strengthening scientific, environmental epidemiology, and workforce diversity.
  • Supporting the infrastructure needs to prepare for future research opportunities.

    NIEHS launched a funding opportunity in 2016 to help researchers maintain and enrich the infrastructure needed to investigate new research questions using existing cohorts and to collaborate with other scientists. The program has since evolved to support a diverse scientific workforce and enhance the breadth of populations represented in environmental epidemiology cohort studies.

    The NIEHS-funded grants support two main types of activities to promote widespread data sharing and scientific collaborations:

    • Maintaining and enriching infrastructure.
    • Enriching data management and data sharing activities.

    Within these categories, researchers may collect or develop additional measures of exposure and disease, including social determinants of health and structural racism, facilitate enrollment of understudied populations, and follow study participants for longer periods of time, especially during key windows of susceptibility.

    Strengthening scientific and workforce diversity in environmental health is another core component of the program. Funded projects must include a diversity plan demonstrating how the enrichment of cohort maintenance and resource infrastructure and/or cohort data management, for broad sharing of cohort resources, will support a diverse scientific workforce and enhance the breadth of populations represented in scientific inquiry.

    Information about current and previously funded institutions can be found on the Grantees webpage.

    Program Contacts

    Meilssa M. Smarr
    Melissa M. Smarr, Ph.D.
    Health Scientist Administrator

    Tel 984-287-4507
    melissa.smarr@nih.gov
    Kimberly Ann Gray
    Kimberly Gray, Ph.D.
    Health Scientist Administrator

    Tel 984-287-3262
    gray6@niehs.nih.gov
    Duncan, Christopher
    Christopher G. Duncan, Ph.D.
    Health Scientist Administrator

    Tel 984-287-3256
    christopher.duncan@nih.gov
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