Spring 2024 Seminar Schedule.

Join us every Wednesday from 1:00-1:50 in L110 or Zoom:

Spring 2024 Schedule Summary

Date Speaker Seminar Titles and Topics
Jan 24 Jocelyn Fimbres and Samantha Hall

PhD Students

Department of Environmental Health

BUSPH

Gijs van Seventer Environmental Health Departmental Seminar, Spring 2024: Omics in Environmental Health
Jan 31 Dr Maria Argos and Dr Tamar Sofer

Environmental Health Professor

BUSPH

Assistant Professor of Biostatistics

Harvard University

Multi-omics analyses in environmental health: Opportunities and challenges in the MOHD consortium
Feb 7 Dr. Jesse Goodrich

Assistant Professor of Environmental Health

Keck School of Medicine

USC

Beyond a Single Factor: Cutting-Edge Approaches in Environmental Mixtures and Omics Research
Feb 14 Beverly Ge and Alina McIntyre

PhD Students

Environmental Health

BUSPH

Indoor Environmental Quality in Boston Public Schools

Harnessing geospatial data for urban climate resilience: Insights from a fine scale ambient temperature analysis in Chelsea, Massachusetts

Feb 21 No Seminar due to Monday Schedule TBD
Feb 28 Dr. Jaime Hart

Associate Professor of Environmental Health

Harvard Chan

The external exposome and chronic disease risk in nationwide prospective cohorts
Mar 6 Sandy Navarro and Dr. Robin Dodson

LA Grit Media

Associate Director

Silent Spring Institute

Department of Environmental Health

Improving consumer product exposure assessment through community-research partnership
Mar 13 Spring Break (No seminar) TBD
Mar 20 Dr. Andres Cardena

Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Population Health

Stanford University

Environmental Epigenetics
Mar 27 Dr. Lorraine Brennan

Professor

School of Agriculture and Food Science

University College of Dublin

Metabolomics in Nutrition Research – how can we use it?
Apr 3 Dr. Robin Mesnage

Research Associate

Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics

King’s College London

Scientific Director of Clinic Buchinger Wilhelmi

Combining omics data to identify health effects of Pesticides
Apr 10 First Year Student Presentations Student Presentations
Apr 17 Dr. Donghai Liang

Assistant Professor of Environmental Health

Rollins School of Public Health

Emory University

Use of high-resolution metabolomics to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying the toxicity of ubiquitous environment pollutants on human health
Apr 24 Dr. Chantel Martin

Assistant Professor of Epidemiology

Gillings School of Global Public Health

UNC

Embodiment of Place: Epigenetic Mechanisms of Neighborhood Environment and Health Inequalities
May 1 Dr. Bernardo Lemos

Professor

Pharmacology and Toxicology

R. Ken and Donna Coit Endowed Chair in Aging and Neurodegenerative Diseases

R. Ken Coit College of Pharmacy

University of Arizona

Environmental epigenetic and biomarkers of aging
May 8 Jocelyn Fimbres and Samantha Hall Wrap up

Detailed Schedule (To follow)

Jan 24

Jocelyn Fimbres and Samantha Hall

Gijs van Seventer Environmental Health Departmental Seminar, Spring 2024: Omics in Environmental Health

 

 

Jan 31

Dr. Maria Argos and Dr. Tamar Sofer

Multi-omics analyses in environmental health: Opportunities and challenges in the MOHD consortium

Dr. Argos is an environmental and molecular epidemiologist interested in the effects of metal exposures on cardiometabolic and cancer endpoints across the life course. Her research strongly emphasizes identifying molecular pathways altered by environmental exposures that influence disease risk by leveraging high-dimensional molecular data and biomarker data obtained from biological specimens collected in the epidemiological setting. She is the principal investigator of the Bangladesh Environmental Research in Children's Health (BIRCH) cohort that aims to evaluate early life health effects of arsenic exposure and metal mixtures. She is a principal investigator of a disease study site examining diabetes and kidney disease progression in collaboration with the newly established Multi-Omics for Health and Disease Consortium and an investigator of the Chicago Field Center of the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos. She previously served as a principal investigator of the Illinois site of the national All of Us Research Program.

Dr. Tamar Sofer is an Associate Professor in the Department of medicine at Harvard Medical School and at the Department of Biostatistics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and the director of Bioinformatics at the CardioVascular Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She holds an undergraduate degree in Mathematics from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel, and a PhD in Biostatistics from Harvard University, where she also did her postdoctoral fellowship studying semiparametric and causal inference. Dr. Sofer was later a research scientist at the Department of Biostatistics at the University of Washington in Seattle, where she worked in the Genetic Analysis Center of the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos and in the Data Coordinating Center of the Trans-Omics in Precision Medicine (TOPMed) program. These roles led to the development of her research in statistical methods for association analysis of genetic, omics data, and complex traits, in diverse and admixed populations. Prior to joining BIDMC she led the Biostatistics core of the program in sleep medicine epidemiology at the Brigham and Women’s hospital division of sleep and circadian disorders. Dr. Sofer is currently a PI of three NIH grants using genetics and omics to study determinants, correlates, and biomarkers of cardiometabolic and cognitive aging phenotypes in diverse populations, with most of this work focusing on Hispanic and Latino adults.

Summary: We are excited to welcome Dr. Maria Argos and Dr. Tamar Sofer for a co-presentation on “Multi-omics analyses in environmental health: Opportunities and challenges in the MOHD consortium”. During this talk, Drs Argos and Sofer will provide detailed information on the recently funded NIH Multi-Omics Health and Disease Consortium (MOHD), of which they are collaborators. We will hear about planned participant recruitment in this multi-site study, with a focus on participants who have been underrepresented in Omics and public health research. Data integration techniques regarding multi-level omics data will also be presented, as the Consortium incorporates genomics, epigenomics, transcriptomics, and metabolomic data. Data harmonization across several sites and omics fields will eventually be used in creation of a standardized dataset available to other researchers. Use of highly dimensional biomarkers to answer study questions surrounding environmental exposures, social determinants of health, and disease development or status will be discussed.

 

Feb 7

Dr. Jesse Goodrich

Beyond a Single Factor: Cutting-Edge Approaches in Environmental Mixtures and Omics Research

Dr. Jesse Goodrich is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Environmental Health at the University of Southern California. His research focuses on integrating multiomic data to understand the molecular mechanisms linking endocrine and metabolism disrupting chemicals with complex diseases such as type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Jesse obtained his PhD in the Integrative Physiology department at the University of Colorado Boulder. During his PhD, he performed a variety of interventional and observational human research studies examining factors related to glucose metabolism and cardiorespiratory fitness. During his post-doc at USC, Jesse’s research was focused on using metabolomic measures to understand the biological mechanisms underlying the relationship between exposure to persistent organic chemicals and susceptibility to Type 2 diabetes in children and young adults.

Summary: In recent years, there has been significant progress in understanding the biological effects of individual toxic chemicals, such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, by studying how they impact omics data such as metabolomics and the microbiome. However, humans are exposed to many different chemicals with potentially synergistic effects, and research examining how these chemical mixtures impact biological processes is lacking. In this presentation, Dr. Goodrich will showcase three novel approaches for the integrative analysis of environmental mixtures and omics, including untargeted metabolomics, microbiome, and multiomics data, to offer a more holistic understanding of the complex interplay between our environment and our bodies.

 

Feb 14

Alina McIntyre and Beverly Ge

Harnessing geospatial data for urban climate resilience: Insights from a fine scale ambient temperature analysis in Chelsea, Massachusetts

Indoor Environmental Quality in Boston Public Schools

Summary: Cities face increasing risks from the urban heat island effect. Our ability to assess fine-scale differentials in urban heat is limited to the sparse spatial density of temperature monitoring. This study aims to assess ambient temperature variations at high resolution within an urban heat island in the Northeast US, focusing on spatial disparities in heat exposure and implications for local climate planning and policy.

The widespread installation of indoor environmental quality (IEQ) sensors in Boston Public Schools (BPS) has created an unprecedented opportunity to inform investment decisions and policies related to IEQ, climate resilience, and sustainability in schools, as well as transform our understanding of how IEQ impacts children’s health and learning. Since 2022, BUSPH researchers have partnered with BPS to support this critical work. This presentation will provide an overview of the formation and outcomes of this partnership as well as the challenges of building data infrastructure and future research directions. These protocols for building successful partnerships between academics and school districts, and managing and analyzing large volumes of IEQ data can be leveraged for further actionable research and policy-making in schools.

 

Feb 28

Dr. Jaime Hart

The external exposome and chronic disease risk in nationwide prospective cohorts 

Dr. Jaime Hart is an Associate Professor in Medicine at the Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School and in the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.  She is an environmental epidemiologist and her work focuses on the impact of long-term exposures to multiple environmental exposures on chronic disease risk. She holds a BA in biology and government from Smith College, and an MS and ScD in environmental epidemiology from the Harvard TH School of Public Health.

Summary: The exposome is a concept developed in 2005 to encompass the totality of exposures throughout the lifecourse. In practice, it is challenging to develop environmental exposure information for decades at large spatial scale.  Dr. Hart will talk about the work being done in the Spatial and Contextual Exposomics and Epidemiology Laboratory (spaceelab.org) to address these challenges.  She will also present several examples of exposomics in practice from her ongoing research.

 

March 6

Sandy Navarro and Dr. Robin Dodson

Improving consumer product exposure assessment through community-research partnership

Sandy Navarro is a social documentarian and community health worker in South Los Angeles. She is founder of LA Grit Media, which partners with nonprofits, health agencies, and academic institutions to produce community-driven media and advance community-based research. She is currently completing her MBA in Entrepreneurship at Mount Saint Mary’s University.
Dr. Robin Dodson is Associate Director of Research Operations and a research scientist at Silent Spring Institute and adjunct faculty in the Department of Environmental Health at BU SPH. Her research focuses on exposure to consumer product chemicals in indoor environments and centers on three main areas: development of novel exposure measurements for epidemiological and community-based studies, analysis of environmental exposure data, and design of intervention studies to reduce exposures. She completed her master’s in environmental science and risk management and doctorate in environmental health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Summary: The Taking Stock Study, a community-research partnership based in South Los Angeles, seeks to explore the impacts of beauty
products on Black women and Latinas in California. In this talk we will share approaches and findings from a community
science phase of the study and development of an intervention study to support use of safer hair products among Black women.

 

March 20

Dr. Andres Cardenas

Environmental Epigenetics

Andres Cardenas, PhD is an environmental epidemiologist and faculty in the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health at Stanford University. His research focuses on molecular and epigenetic biomarkers and the extent to which these alterations contribute to disease risk throughout the life course. He utilizes computational approaches to investigate chemical mixtures, biological aging and fetal epigenetic programming. His research examines the intersection of chemical and social environments in shaping health and disease.

Summary: Recent developments in genomics and data science tools have allowed us to test complex molecular hypotheses to provide crucial insights on the relationship between our environment and health. Epigenetics modifications have emerged as key biomarkers connecting sensitive windows of development with disease risk. This seminar will introduce epigenetics and its use in biomedical research along with key findings highlighting the influence of the environment on our genome and connection to disease risk.

 

March 27

Dr. Lorraine Brennan

Metabolomics in Nutrition Research – how can we use it? 

Lorraine Brennan a full professor and a PI in the UCD Institute of Food & Health and Conway institute. She is the Vice Principal for Research, Innovation and Impact for the College of Health and Agricultural Sciences. She leads a research group at the forefront of the application of metabolomics in nutrition research and the development of Personalized nutrition. She is an ERC awardee and is currently involved in three European Consortiums- MUSAE, PlantIntake and Promed-cog. She served as Director of the European Nutrigenomics Organization for 5 years and led a number of important initiatives such as the development of an Early Career
Network and expansion of membership of the organization. She is a member of the National Academies of Science Engineering and Medicine Standing Committee
on Evidence Synthesis and Communications in Diet and Chronic Disease Relationships – advising the US NIH and USDA on future research areas of priority. She
was a member of the Food2030 Expert group to advise the European Commission with the development of FOOD2030 and exploring and formulating possible future
R&I policy recommendations and actions and assessing their potential impacts. Professor Brennan was co-author of the Policy Document “Recipe for change: an
agenda for a climate-smart and sustainable food system for a healthy Europe: report of the FOOD 2030 expert group”. Professor is an Associate Editor for the
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Summary: Applications of metabolomics in nutrition research has increased in recent years and can be grouped into one of the following: (1) Identification of dietary biomarkers for single foods or for dietary patterns (2) Applications to dietary intervention studies to help understand metabolic alterations (3) Study of diet-related diseases and (4) Precision Nutrition. With respect to dietary biomarkers there has been a proliferation of publications in this field: these biomarkers have the potential to act as objective measures of dietary intake thus overcoming some of the key issues with traditional assessment methods. To date, metabolomic profiling has been successful in identifying several putative biomarkers of food intake. Similarly, use of combination of biomarkers can be employed to study dietary patterns.
For Precision Nutrition, metabolic phenotyping to group individuals into subgroups with similar metabolic profiles is a potential tool to deliver personalized nutrition
advice. These homogeneous subgroups of individuals, named metabotypes, have been employed in human nutrition research to successfully identify differential
responses to dietary challenges and interventions and diet-disease associations. Examples from both dietary biomarkers and precision Nutrition will be
discussed. While significant progress has been made to date in the application of metabolomics in nutrition research a number of key challenge remain: addressing
these will be key to development of future opportunities

 

April 3

Dr. Robin Mesnage

Combining omics data to identify health effects of Pesticides

As the Scientific Director at Clinic Buchinger Wilhelmi, I oversee the research and development activities to scientifically document the health effects of fasting, develop new therapeutic strategies, and most importantly empower our patients to live healthy and fulfilling lives. I also collaborate with the Department of Nutrition at King’s College London, where I hold a visiting research fellow position. I work with Dr. Ana Rodriguez-Mateos to investigate the role of the gut microbiome in the health benefits of plant foods and phytochemicals. My research focus over the last 10 years has been on the safety evaluation of pesticides, publishing more than 100 scientific articles that have been cited more than 8000 times. My main line of research is to identify gaps in the evaluation of pesticide toxicity, and to propose solutions to better predict their effects in human populations.

Summary: The predictive accuracy of current regulatory tests regarding pesticide health effects in human populations is often inadequate. Key issues encompass the limited scope of regulatory testing protocols, predominantly focusing on isolated active ingredients rather than formulated products, insufficient transparency regarding co-formulants, overreliance on industry-backed studies while neglecting published findings in risk assessments, and a failure to harness recent scientific advancements such as biomonitoring and “omics” technologies. This lecture aims to demonstrate how integrating omics technologies can enhance regulatory assessments, leading to more accurate predictions of pesticide-related health effects

 

April 10

 

Margaret Quaid

Characterization of Exposome in a Pediatric Population in Bangladesh 

Summary: Children in Bangladesh face a unique combination of exposures due to the amount of garment production and dyeing that happens in those regions. We use silicone wristbands as passive samplers to quantify these exposures, and we applied stepwise linear regression models to determine which behavior, social, and diet factors best predict exposures to the most widely detected chemicals.

Jonathan Lee

Evaluating the C-HEAT Study “Cool Block” Intervention

Summary: Using outdoor air temperatures data gathered from monitoring efforts of the C-HEAT study, this presentation will begin to outline initial evaluations of whether the “Cool Block” intervention had an effect on mitigating extreme heat in Chelsea, MA.

Erin Polka

Energy and Health

Summary: I will be presenting recent work we conducted in collaboration with UNC and EDF that quantified the effects of oil and gas sector emissions on air quality and the resulting health outcomes. Following, I will present forthcoming work with the Institute of Global Sustainability, in which I will work with a local NGO, HEET, to model the energy consumption and efficiency for residential homes in Massachusetts.

 

April 17

Dr. Donghai Liang

Use of high-resolution metabolomics to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying the toxicity of ubiquitous environment pollutants on human health 

Dr. Donghai Liang is an Assistant Professor at the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, where he holds a primary appointment in Environmental Health
and a secondary appointment in Epidemiology. Dr. Liang is an exposure scienctist and molecular epidemiologist with strong expertise and publication record of over
75 peer-reviewed articles in air pollution assessment and health research, high-throughput data analysis, and omics-based technologies. As a faculty member of the
Emory HERCULES Exposome Research Center, his research focuses on measuring multi-dimensional exposures and elucidating the molecular mechanisms that
account for the complex health responses to environmental mixtures, including ambient and traffic-related air pollution, as well as persistent organic pollutants. Dr.
Liang has incorporated high throughput omics technologies, especially the high-resolution metabolomics and multi-omics integration, into investigations on the
molecular mechanisms and disease etiology associated with ubiquitous environmental exposures. Dr. Liang has been elected to several national and international
leadership positions in academic societies of exposure science, environmental epidemiology, and metabolomics, including Secretary and Academic Councilor of the
International Society of Exposure Science (ISES), and Executive Committee Member for COnsortium of METabolomics Studies (COMETS).

Summary: Understanding the mechanistic basis of environmental pollutant toxicity is dependent on accurately characterizing both exposure and biological responses, especially in the era of exposomics and precision environmental health. Untargeted metabolomics, an analysis of small-molecule metabolic phenotypes, may offer improved estimation of exposures and corresponding health responses to ubiquitous and complex environmental mixtures such as air pollution and persistent organic pollutants (POPs). In over ten independent panel and cross-sectional cohort studies, we demonstrated the utility of high-resolution metabolomics as a central platform linking environmental exposure to internal dose and biological response where we identified novel metabolites and metabolic pathways related to complex air pollution and POPs mixtures. Specifically, biological perturbations in oxidative stress, systemic inflammation, and DNA damage and repair related pathway and metabolites were associated with various environmental pollutants, as well as a wide range of adverse health responses, especially among vulnerable population. These results hold great promise for identifying key connections between environmental exposures and corresponding adverse health effects. Future directions should focus on validation of these findings via hypothesis-driven protocols, technical advances in metabolic annotation and quantification, and application of multi-omics integration.

 

April 24

Dr. Chantel Martin

Embodiment of Place: Epigenetic Mechanisms of Neighborhood Environment and Health Inequalities 

Dr. Chantel Martin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Gillings School of Global Public Health, Faculty Fellow at the Carolina Population Center, and Co-Director of Cardiopulmunary Research at the Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a social epidemiologist, Dr. Martin’s research program focuses on investigating the social and structural drivers of racial inequalities and potential underlying biological mechanisms. She is the Principal Investigator of an NIMHD-funded R00 study examining the epigenetic mechanisms of prenatal environmental stressors and offspring obesity risk and mPI of an NIA-funded R01 investigating the extent to which structural racism across adolescence to mid-life shape Black-White inequalities in Alzheimer’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease-related Dementias. In addition, she is currently leading multiple pilot projects focused on environmental stressors, DNA methylation patterns, and racial health inequalities. Dr. Martin’s work has been published in top journals and received numerous awards and honors, including the 2024 ASPPH Early Career Research Excellence Awards, the 2022 Gillings Faculty Award for Excellence in Health Equity Research, and the 2022 Academy of Behavior Medicine Research’s Early Stage Investigator award.

Summary: Children of Black birthing people are nearly 1.5 times more likely born preterm and 2 times more likely born with low birth weight than children born to White birthing people. Black adults have higher rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, obesity, stroke, inflammation, and Alzheimer’s Disease than non-Hispanic White adults. As a result, Black adults have a physiological profile 6-10 years older in chronological age than their White counterparts. Dr. Martin’s talk will explore associations between neighborhood social environmental stressors and health and provide evidence of potential epigenetic mechanisms linking the social environment to health and disparities. She will present ongoing research across the life course from early life into adulthood.

 

May 1

Dr. Bernardo Lemos

Environmental epigenetic and biomarkers of aging

Bernardo Lemos earned a PhD in 2007 from Harvard University studying evolutionary and population genomics of the Y-chromosome and the ribosomal DNA (rDNA) arrays. He then led the laboratory of environmental epigenetics at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and now serves as Professor and Coit Endowed Chair in Aging and Neurodegeneration at the College of Pharmacy at the University of Arizona. His lab currently collaborates in projects examining human populations in China, Bangladesh, and the USA, as well as experimental studies in cell systems and model organisms. He focuses on the rDNA and the impact of dietary interventions and
exposure to environmental toxicants on the genome and epigenome. He has recently developed the first long-range interaction map of the rDNA using Hi-C technology as well as developed the rDNA aging clock, an evolutionarily conserved marker of aging that is applicable to humans, mice, and other mammals. The rDNA clock can address chronological age in individuals of unknown age as well as biological age in response to interventions and toxicants. He has been awarded an Ellison Foundation New Scholars in Aging Award and a Smith Family Award for Excellence in Biomedical Research. Research in his laboratory has been supported by grants from the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), National Institutes of Aging (NIA), and National Institutes of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)

Summary: We will discuss research at the interface between environmental and nutritional impacts on the epigenome and mechanistic and evolutionarily conserved markers of organismal and cellular aging. The markers are grounded on the biology of the nucleolus, can be used to address biological aging in response to interventions and toxicants, as well as to estimate chronological age in individuals of unknown age.