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Your Environment. Your Health.

Health Impacts Research

Research Funded by NIEHS Grants - Division of Extramural Research and Training

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, including the following:

  • Autism
    NIEHS supports research projects investigating whether various contaminants, together with genetic susceptibility, increase the risk for developing autism. Three 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).
  • Autoimmune Disease and Immunotoxicology
    NIEHS-funded immunotoxicology research is exploring how environmental exposures can cause immune system dysfunction. At the other end of the spectrum, grantees are examining the role environmental exposures play in the development and exacerbation of autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn's disease.
  • Breast Cancer
    NIEHS-funded breast cancer research is studying how the environment interfaces with other factors, such as early puberty, to shape risk for breast cancer. Multidisciplinary scientists, clinicians, and community partners are examining environmental exposures during windows of susceptibility.
  • Children's Health
    Researchers supported by NIEHS are investigating how early environmental exposures might contribute to developmental problems, childhood diseases, or later development of disease. Scientists at NIEHS' Centers for Children's Environmental Health & Disease Prevention Research work with community partners and health care providers to reduce children's exposure to contaminants.
  • Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
    Researchers supported by the NIEHS DOHaD program study how certain diseases or health conditions originate during critical time periods of development, known as windows of susceptibility. They are also pinpointing times during development when people are most susceptible to the combined effects of environmental exposures and genetic factors.
  • Environmental Epigenetics
    Scientists funded through NIEHS research programs work to better understand the link between environmental exposures and epigenetic regulation of gene expression, and how these interactions may affect human health and disease.
  • Environmental Impact on Psychiatric Disorders
    NIEHS supports innovative basic, epidemiological, and interdisciplinary research focused on understanding the role of and mechanisms by which environmental exposures disrupt normal brain and behavioral functioning to increase risk for psychiatric disorders.
  • Genome Integrity & Environmental Stress  
    Through NIEHS-funded research projects, scientists continue to advance efforts to detect, prevent, and treat environmentally-induced diseases in which DNA damage plays a role. NIEHS-funded scientists are developing new ways to evaluate the ability to detect and repair DNA damage at the level of the individual.
  • Heart Disease
    NIEHS supports research aimed at identifying who is most likely to experience cardiovascular problems because of exposure to air pollution and other contaminants such as pesticides, lead, dioxins, and arsenic. Investigators also want to understand how a person's genetics might affect susceptibility to pollutants and the mechanisms leading to cardiovascular effects.
  • Kidney Diseases
    NIEHS-funded researchers are studying how environmental exposures alone or in combination with other factors may impact kidney disease, both in the U.S. and around the world. Some are identifying early biological markers of kidney disease or working to understand the underlying cellular mechanisms that lead to kidney disease and its progression. Others are developing pharmacological therapies, prevention and intervention approaches, or tools to assess how chemicals affect kidney function, to protect human health.
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases
    Neurodegeneration can lead to diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and is thought to be caused by an interaction of genes and environment. NIEHS-funded research is examining how exposure to pesticides, pollution, and other contaminants affects neurodegeneration.
  • Neurodevelopmental Diseases
    NIEHS supports scientists who are working to uncover how genetics and early environmental exposures interact to lead to autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other neurodevelopmental problems. This research is increasing our understanding about how environmental exposures early in life affect neurodevelopment and will help identify who is the most vulnerable to these exposures.
  • Obesity and Diabetes
    Obesity increases risk for conditions such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Many factors, including the environment, are involved in obesity. NIEHS-funded researchers are studying how exposure to air pollution, arsenic, and other contaminants affect obesity, metabolism, and type 2 diabetes.
  • Reproductive System Disorders
    Exposure to environmental pollutants can lead to diseases, disorders, and conditions that affect the function of male and female reproductive systems. NIEHS supports research that is developing a fuller understanding of the relationship between exposures and risk of reproductive health problems.
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