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GEHS Research and Research Training

Research Areas

The Department of Environmental Health Sciences conducts laboratory and applied field research on the impact of the environment on human health. The overarching research foci encompass factors influencing water quality and disaster management impact on health. Health endpoints of specific interest are: cancer, respiratory disease including asthma, gastro-intestinal disorders, workplace health, and adverse reproductive health.  Areas include:

  • Public health aspects of water quality:  public health microbiology and virology, water quality, microbial risk assessment, water policy and management, metagenomics and bioinformatics, environmental biotechnology, biosensors, water reuse, water treatment, antibiotic resistance, and opportunistic premise plumbing pathogens.
  • Environmental and genetic toxicology: environmental stresses induced by xenobiotic compounds; mutagenesis; carcinogenesis; DNA damage and repair environmental and molecular toxicology mechanisms of genetic damage and mutagenesis; gene-environment interactions in environmental disease; carcinogens and their mechanisms of action; and xenobiotic-induced metabolic dysregulation of macro-nutrients.
  • Public health disaster management:  community resilience and health systems preparedness; and health disparities.

Training Grants

GEHS collaborates with the Research Center of the Academic Hospital Paramaribo and the Anton de Kom University, Suriname, supported by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) on the MekiTamara project in Suriname. The overall goal of this project is to assess the impact of exposures to neurotoxicants (such as heavy metals and pesticides) on maternal and child health in Suriname while preserving the unique assets, health and cultural traditions of indigenous and other health disparate populations.

Research Centers

Center for Gulf Coast Environmental Health Research, Leadership and Strategic Initiatives

Funded by NIH for community-based research. The center facilitates collaborative research and the transfer of information with community-based organizations along the Gulf Coast. The Center employs evidence-based approaches to guide and deliver outreach and education programs. The center seeks to empower and move communities toward solutions to pressing environmental health issues by providing leadership development and engaging a core of community stakeholders.  Community-based projects include the following:

  • The Fussy Baby Network is a community-based program through which infant specialists provide support to parents of infants to reduce stress and enhance family resilience. This project was developed as a need for the community following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
  • The Deepwater Horizon (DWH) Disaster, Real and Perceived Exposures in Reproductive-Age Women community-based project examines the consequent effects on health from the DWH disaster through the analysis and assessment of environmental health risks, real and perceived, and more effectively communicating those risks.  The study focuses on two primary concerns regarding health risks communities indicate they currently face: food safety concerns (primarily shellfish) and air quality concerns
  • The Deepwater Horizon Disaster, Lifetime Adversity, and Reproductive-Aged Women project addresses the health concerns of residents of the Gulf States affected by the DWH oil spill, focusing on women of reproductive age.  Research involves stress measurement and biomarkers in pregnant women and lifetime adversity. The study focuses on the effects of a technological disaster on mental health, reproductive choices, and birth outcomes in women of reproductive age.
  • The Building Community Resilience Through Disaster Mobile Health community-based participatory research project is designed to address community resilience. This project will strengthen community resilience by creating a network to leverage prenatal and post-partum priority assets and links to resources throughout southeastern Louisiana.
  • Implementation Research including “Expanding Gulf Coast Maternal and Child Health: Strengthening Family Resilience in Disaster Prone Communities Experiencing Repeated Environmental Stressors” aims to improve the implementation of the tailored Fussy Baby Network® New Orleans and Gulf Coast  intervention.

The Center for Applied Environmental Public Health (CAEPH)

CAEPH uses a multidisciplinary approach to assess the impact of environmental agents on human health. CAEPH researchers utilize computing technology as a tool to analyze data and to assess the health impact of environmental contaminants. Areas of study include: childhood lead poisoning; application of surveillance methodology and data analysis to environmental health issues; and the translation of research for applications in environmental health practice.

CAEPH is a leader in public health education using distance learning to provide master’s degrees in occupational health and safety, industrial hygiene and disaster management. 

CAEPH provides professional development through the Region 6 Public Health Training Center funded by HRSA.