Message from the Director (Cornelis J. Elferink, Ph.D.)
The mission of the UTMB Center in Environmental Toxicology (UTMB-CET) is to explore the environmental basis of human diseases by fostering collaborative interactions amongst multidisciplinary basic and clinical investigators pursuing both fundamental and translational research pertinent to the effects of environmental factors on human health. The UTMB-CET is housed at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, and is the only NIEHS environmental health center located on the Gulf of Mexico coast, near the nation's busiest shipping port (Port of Houston) and an expansive petrochemical refining and manufacturing infrastructure. Our proximity to sources of many significant environmental problems makes UTMB a compelling site for such an environmental health sciences center. The underlying causes of these problems include the composition of the natural environment, meteorological conditions (namely hurricanes), population density, personal and commercial transportation patterns, and the endemic petrochemical industry. Some of the most serious environmental issues are ozone pollution, emissions of fine particulates, hazardous chemical releases, hazardous waste sites, and PCB/dioxin contamination of the marine biota. The UTMB-CET investigators concentrate their efforts in three disease categories: 1) asthma pathogenesis; 2) environmentally-linked carcinogenesis; and 3) disease states induced by reactive oxygen stress.
The research enterprise encompasses the realm of basic laboratory research examining disease mechanisms, and extends into clinically relevant translational studies focusing on gene-environment interactions, airborne toxics, DNA damage, and a growing emphasis on exposure and effect biomarker development.
During the now sixteen years of its existence, the UTMB-CET has emerged as a national leader in elucidating cellular response mechanisms to environmental challenge, and in fostering community awareness of environmental health issues to impart prevention and intervention strategies through community engagement. The goal of the UTMB-CET is to provide resources and an infrastructure necessary to promote Center members' research objectives. The elements comprising the UTMB-CET are; Facility Cores, including an Integrative Health Sciences Facility Core (IHSFC) providing resources necessary for translational and community-based participatory research; Collaborative Research Teams designed to implement the Center's strategic vision of promoting collaborative multidisciplinary and translational research; a Career Development Program structured to mentor new investigators in the environmental health sciences; a Pilot Project Program supporting new initiatives; and a Community Outreach and Engagement Core tasked with disseminating UTMB-CET findings to the community.
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