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The UNC Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma, and Lung Biology, led by Ilona Jaspers, PhD, was awarded an EPA cooperative agreement for $4.5 million over three years.

The UNC Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma, and Lung Biology (CEMALB), under the direction of Dr. Ilona Jaspers was awarded a cooperative agreement with the Public Health & Integrated Toxicology Division laboratories of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), entitled “The Convergence Science in Environmental Health (COSINE) Program”. The overarching goal for this 3-year assistance agreement is to integrate knowledge, methods, and expertise across different disciplines, thus forming novel frameworks of pollutant-induced adverse health effects.

The COSINE program will undertake trans-disciplinary research collaborations with investigators from the CEMALB and investigators of EPA’s Public Health & Integrated Toxicology Division laboratories. These studies are focused on understanding the human health effects of air pollutants and environmental disease modifiers.

The broad goals for this program are:

1) To undertake translational research, identifying modifiers of response to pollutant exposure

2) To identify biological determinants of response to environmental agents

3) To develop resources and knowledge to decrease the impact of pollutant exposure on human health

4) To train the next generation of environmental health scientists and respond to emerging research needs

The general approaches to meet these objectives and goals include controlled exposure studies of volunteers to pollutants, collection of biospecimens in panel or field studies of volunteer cohorts, in vitro approaches using cells (epithelial cells, phagocytes, lymphocytes, etc.) obtained from volunteers to assess mechanisms of pollutant effects on cell functions, and computational/bioinformatic analysis of exposure data and clinical records to identify drivers of pollutant-induced adverse health effects, as shown in the COSINE Program Components Schematic below.

These studies are used to advance public health and environmentally relevant goals including:

  1. a) Undertake mechanistic studies of pollutant effects on relevant biological processes
  2. b) Estimate the impact of pollutants on susceptible populations and identify health disparities
  3. c) Assess the role of susceptibility factors and environmental stressors on pollutant induced health effects
  4. d) Determine potential interventions or uncover determinants of environmental health resilience

The COSINE Program is divided into multiple components, and you can learn more about them here.

UNC School of Medicine contact: Mark Derewicz