Message from the Director – Climate Change and Health

The decision in Washington last week to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, which was signed by 195 parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, is a step in the wrong direction, at a time when more, not less, is needed. Even the negotiators of the Agreement pointed out that collectively, the goals set by individual countries for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions were insufficient to avert adverse impacts of climate change. Moreover, nothing was binding, no penalties are imposed for non-compliance, and no commitments were made to assist the most vulnerable populations. Nevertheless, the mere fact of an Agreement that included nearly all nations was historic and symbolized a collective will to tackle this global issue. In light of the UC Davis Environmental Health Sciences Center (EHSC) mission “to advance understanding of environmentally-induced disease and disability, and develop interventions that reduce harmful exposures or mitigate their effects on health”, over the last several months, the EHSC has moved towards a new thrust in Climate Change. With our expertise in epidemiology, toxicology, molecular biology, behavioral sciences, exposure sciences, informatics, bioengineering, and community-scientist partnerships, we are poised to play a pivotal role in addressing adaptation for human health and

EHS Center Hosts First Academy Day

The first ever UC Davis Environmental Health Sciences (EHS) Academy Day on March 21 brought together multi-disciplinary researchers and community-based organizations to discuss concerns about environmental health impacts, specifically those centered on water safety and contamination issues in the Central Valley. Academy Day provided attendees with opportunities for mutual learning and information sharing. The aim was to get individuals thinking about how scientists and communities can work together to solve environmental problems and translate science into action and policy.

Domoic Acid Workshop to be held at UC Davis on May 4th

The UC Davis Environmental Health Sciences Center, the UC Davis Counter ACT Center and the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment will host a workshop, Domoic Acid: Evaluating the State of the Science and Implications for Human Toxicity. The event will be held on the UC Davis campus in the Buehler Alumni Center. Domoic acid is a neurotoxin that is produced by some species of the algae Pseudo-nitzschia and can accumulate in shellfish, including crustaceans. Following large algal blooms along the California coast, the contamination of shellfish can be widespread. Consuming contaminated shellfish poses potential health concerns for both humans and marine mammals. The workshop will explore dose levels that induce adverse effects and the spectrum of endpoints. Program details and registration information can be found on the workshop website. Space is limited to register early!

EHS Center Announces 2017-18 Pilot Grant Recipients

The UC Davis EHS Center Pilot Projects Program is pleased to announce recipients of the 2017-2018 pilot awards: Developmental exposure to organophosphorus pesticides to evaluate airway hyperreactivity – Principal Investigator: Ana Cristina Grodzki, PhD (Department of Molecular Biosciences) Immune mechanisms of ozone-induced lung inflammation in non-human primates – Principal Investigator: Angela Haczku, MD, PhD (Department of Internal Medicine: Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine) Effects of atrazine on the developing ovary – Principal Investigator: Neil Hunter, PhD (Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics) Public health and the intersection of water and air quality in the Salton Sea – Principal Investigator: Kent Pinkerton, PhD (Department of Pediatrics) Cognitive and behavioral and neuroanatomical phenotypes following early life pesticide exposure – Principal Investigator: Jill Silverman, PhD (Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences) Ozone and lung remodeling – Principal Investigator: Laura VanWinkle, PhD (Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Cell Biology) Noninvasive imaging of immune responses induced by environmental pollutants –  Principal Investigator: Christoph Vogel, PhD (Department of Environmental Toxicology)

EHS Center Member Update

Center Director, Irva Hertz-Picciotto testified on chronic neurodevelopmental effects of pesticides at a Hearing of the California Senate Committee on Environmental Quality on new regulations proposed by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR). The new regulations would impose limitations on pesticide applications near schools, and were created in response to a 2014 report from a study by the California Environmental Health Tracking Program (CEHTP), Agricultural Pesticide Use Near Public Schools in California. The 15-county study looked at over 2500 public schools and found that although a majority of the schools (64%) did not have any pesticides of public health concern applied within a quarter mile of the school property, more than half a million pounds were applied nearby the over 1/3 of schools that did. Moreover, the schools located within 1/4 mile of pesticide applications were attended by a higher proportion of Hispanic children. The proposed regulatory action by DPR would require growers to notify public K-12 schools, child day care facilities and county agricultural commissioners about planned pesticide applications near school sites and some types of pesticide applications would be prohibited during certain times. Laura Van Winkle has been invited to serve as an associate editor for the journal Toxicological Sciences, the official journal

Project TENDR – Documentary

The science is in. The evidence is clear and sufficient. A group of leading health professionals, scientists and advocates agrees that chemical exposures are putting children at risk for neurodevelopmental disorders like autism, ADHD and learning disabilities. EHS Center Director, Irva Hertz-Picciotto is the co-founder of Project TENDR, an organization that is working to protect infants and children from preventable threats to healthy brain development. Watch the new documentary about Project TENDR.

EHS Center Welcomes Jill Silverman, PhD

The EHS Center is delighted to welcome new member, Dr. Jill Silverman. Dr. Silverman’s predoctoral research in Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Maryland, School of Medicine, Maryland Psychiatric Research Center employed preclinical rat models of psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and drug abuse. She conducted postdoctoral training and research in translational and behavioral phenotyping projects in mouse models of autism in the laboratory of Jacqueline Crawley at the National Institute of Mental Health Intramural Research Program.

Rebecca Calisi-Rodriguez, PhD receives 2017-18 EHS Scholar award

Dr. Calisi-Rodríguez has been selected as the 2017-18 EHS Scholar, an award program sponsored by the Center’s Career Development Program. Her research focuses on how changing physical and social environments affect the brain, behavior, and reproduction. As the Center’s EHS Scholar, Dr. Calisi-Rodríguez plans to expand her research program to investigate how pollutants in the environment affect animal behavior and biology, deepening our understanding of how environmental exposures threaten human health and how we can develop strategies to minimize their effects. Her research incorporates ethology, endocrinology, neurobiology, and genomics using various model vertebrate systems including rodents, birds, amphibians, and reptiles. As an EHS Scholar, Dr. Calisi-Rodríguez will apply her diverse skill set to study feral pigeons as bioindicators of pollutants in the agricultural and built environment. Click here to read the New York Times article about Dr. Calisi-Rodriguez’s research

Center researchers receive grant to develop Environmental Justice Academy

Building effective, equitable, and sustainable university-community partnerships is essential to the success of environmental health science research. Yet, researchers and community advocates often do not have the capacity to build and maintain these partnerships. Without effective training academic and community stakeholders may miss important opportunities for bi-directional learning, potentially reproduce disparities between universities and communities, particularly in partnerships with historically under-served communities.  Strengthening the capacity of academic and community partners engaged with environmental justice efforts to work together is central to the development of effective and equitable partnerships to address pressing environmental health issues.   The UC Davis Environmental Health Science Center and the Michigan Lifestage Environmental Exposure and Disease Center in Ann Arbor will collaborate to develop a curriculum for an Environmental Justice and Health Equity Academy. The project objective is to provide a new resource to strengthen capacity among environmental health centers across the country to foster meaningful multidirectional collaboration between researchers, community residents, administrative and legislative decision makers.   The project aims to develop a community of practice (COP) that assures community experience and expertise informs scientific research, and assures dissemination of environmental health science to address community concerns. The team will also develop several modules –based on community priorities– and refine the curriculum based

Assessment of Breast Milk for Chemicals Found in Personal Care Products

Article by Shivani Kamal 2015 pilot award recipient, Dr. Candace Bever conducted a study examining the presence of chemicals in human breast milk. The chemicals she selected for the project are some found in personal-care products such as toothpaste and liquid hand soap. One particular chemical used in these products is triclosan, an antibacterial agent. Triclosan ends up in a person’s body, including breast milk, through the use of products that contain the chemical. One goal of the study was to understand how the patterns of personal care product use relates to the concentrations measured in the breast milk of nursing women.  Although this study involved a small group of women, Dr. Bever and her colleagues are developing an antibody-based chemical detection tool that can be used for much larger population-based studies. By improving chemical detection technology, scientists and public health officials can obtain the information they need to evaluate risk and prevent exposures that could harm young infants and children.  Read more about this study at the California Aggie