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Extramural Research


Protecting Children's Health for a Lifetime: Environmental Health Research Meets Clinical Practice and Public Policy

October 29-30, 2013
Omni Shoreham Hotel
2500 Calvert Street, NW
Washington, DC 20008


Print Version (PDF) (11 pp, 56 K)

Meeting Goals

  • Share reproductive and children's environmental health research and clinical findings and discuss implications for improving public health, clinical practice and public policy
  • Learn about cutting-edge issues from clinic, basic research and the community
  • Share findings on how research translation and community engagement can improve the lives of children and families around issues of environmental health
  • Identify key environmental health disparities and related factors that adversely affect children’s health and development
  • Seek collaborations between children's environmental health researchers, health care providers and the community

Meeting Objectives

  • Expand understanding and investigate opportunities for research on various environmental topics and chemicals affecting children’s health
  • Share success stories and highlight challenges, strengths and lessons learned.
October 29, 2013
7:30 Registration
8:30 – 9:00 a.m. Welcome and Opening Remarks

Lek Kadeli, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Research and Development (ORD)

Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., Director
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
9:00 – 10:15 a.m.

Session 1:  Hot Topics in Food Safety and Children’s Health       
Moderator: Brenda Eskenazi, Ph.D., M.A.

Children are exposed to contaminants in food that may affect their health and development. This session focuses on some specific contaminants that are of increasing concern to scientists, policy makers and the community. The goals of this session are to:

  1. Provide an overview of what is known about the presence of arsenic and pesticides in food, current regulatory initiatives and risk communication challenges;
  2. Present the state-of-the-science of children’s health and food exposure to pesticides, Bisphenol A (BPA) and arsenic; and
  3. Stimulate audience questions and discussion with our presenters in a concluding panel.
  BPA and Children’s Health: Updates on Food Packaging Exposure and Health Effects
BPA has been found in plastics and food can liners. This presentation discusses human exposure to BPA and the potential health effects that have been described in children.
Lesliam Quirós-Alcalá, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
  Pesticides and Children: State-of-the-Science of Exposure Assessment and Health Effects
This presentation focuses on trends in pesticide use in agriculture and the levels of exposures to various pesticides in pregnant women and children. It includes a brief review of some recent findings on health effects in children from pesticides.
Brenda Eskenazi, Ph.D., M.A., University of California, Berkeley
  Arsenic in Food and Children’s Health: Updates on Exposure Assessment and Health Effects Research
Relatively little is known about the possible effects of low-level arsenic exposures, especially during childhood, via food and water. This presentation summarizes exposure estimates for the New Hampshire Birth Cohort and describes plans to assess potential health effects in this population.
Kathryn Cottingham, Ph.D., Dartmouth College
  Overview and Role of Improving Food Safety Through Strategic Science, Communication and Advocacy
Consuming foods contaminated with heavy metals, pesticides and other chemicals such as BPA can increase health risks. This presentation focuses on how scientists can engage policy makers and the public to help reduce exposure.
Michael Crupain, M.D., M.P.H., Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D.; Food Safety and Sustainability Center, Consumer Reports
10:15 – 10:30 a.m. Tribute—Professor Patricia Buffler
Internationally renowned researcher in childhood leukemia and environmental health at the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health
10:30 – 10:50 a.m. Break
10:50 a.m.– 12:00 p.m. Session 2:  Air Pollution Update: Unraveling the Science, Making a Difference
Understanding the adverse impacts of air pollutants on children’s health and ensuring the translation of this evidence to clinicians and communities has matured through the EPA/NIEHS Children’s Environmental Health and Disease prevention Research Centers (CEHC) program and the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units (PEHSU) program.  This session provides some highlights of recent epidemiological studies that are advancing our understanding of indoor and outdoor factors, effects on the brain as well as airways, and consideration of cumulative exposure and lifespan implications. In addition, examples of moving forward from the etiologic science toward intervention strategies and effective outreach and translation strategies are presented. 
  Airborne Endotoxins and Asthma Morbidity in the Inner-City: Friend or Foe?
Co-exposure to both endotoxins and certain pollutants can modify the effects of endotoxins on markers of airway inflammation. However, it is unknown whether pollutant exposure modifies the effect of endotoxins on asthma symptoms and/or morbidity, particularly in “real world” settings. This presentation provides findings from an analysis of endotoxins, pollutant and asthma outcome data from a prospective cohort study that looks at how endotoxins and pollutant exposure may affect asthma among a population of urban, predominantly black children with persistent asthma.
Elizabeth Matsui, M.D., M.H.S., The Johns Hopkins University
  Early Life Traffic Pollution Exposure and Behavior at School Age
There is evidence of effect modification between traffic-related air pollution exposure and maternal education. Findings will be presented from a study examining associations between traffic-related air pollution exposure in the first year of life and ADHD-related symptoms when the children in the birth cohort reached 7 years of age.
Nicholas Newman, D.O., M.S., University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Childrens Hospital
  The Impact of Prenatal and Cumulative Exposure to Air Pollutants on Neurodevelopment
This presentation focuses on findings from an ongoing birth cohort study. This study has found that there are associations between prenatal and cumulative exposure to combustion-related air pollutants and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) with adverse neurodevelopmental effects in children. It also includes evidence of interactions between environmental exposures and psychosocial stress.
Frederica Perera, Dr.P.H., Ph.D., Columbia University
  Air Cleaner Interventions in Asthma – State of the Evidence
Air cleaners have been touted as a potential strategy for environmental management of asthma. Intervention trials have varied in approach and findings. This presentation provides an up-to-date critical review of air cleaners and asthma research.
Greg Diette, M.D., M.H.S., The Johns Hopkins University
  Translating the Link Between Air Quality and Health Through Community Engagement and Partnerships
This presentation briefly describes the development and implementation of the Denver center’s website, Clean Air Projects (www.capk-12.org). The important partnerships and roles of the Community Advisory Board and community organizations will be stressed and discussed.
Lisa Cicutto, Ph.D., R.N., National Jewish Health
12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Lunch/Network
1:00 –  1:30 p.m. Keynote

Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D.
Ecologist and Author
1:30 – 2:10 p.m. Children’s Environmental Health Research – Past, Present and the Future

James H. Johnson, Jr., Ph.D., Director
National Center for Environmental Research

Ramona Trovato, Associate Assistant Administrator

Ken Olden, Ph.D., Sc.D., L.H.D., Former NIEHS Director
National Center for Environmental Assessment

Gwen W. Collman, Ph.D., Director
Division of Extramural Research and Training
2:10 – 3:25 p.m. Session 3: Risks to Children’s Health: Chemicals in Consumer Products
Moderators: Kim Harley, Ph.D., and Maida Galvez, M.D., M.P.H.

Increasing concern has been paid to children’s exposure to chemicals found in common consumer products. Household items of concern include: furniture and electronics (containing flame retardants); cosmetics and personal care products (containing phthalates, triclosan and other phenols); food storage containers (containing BPA); and children’s toys (containing phthalates and metals).

This session focuses on recent epidemiologic studies that are advancing our knowledge of the health effects of these chemicals and examining trends and changes in exposure over time. Attendees will also learn methods for communicating with patients about risks and lowering exposure and information on current policy and regulations.
  Health Effects of Chemicals in Consumer Products: Flame Retardants
This presentation provides an overview of what is known about the health effects of chemicals found in consumer products and an update on the new chemicals of concern as the old ones are phased out.
Kim Harley, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
  Chemicals in Consumer Products: Trends in Exposure and New Chemicals of Interest
Synthetic chemicals, such as phthalates or bisphenol A (plasticizers), parabens (preservatives), triclosan (antimicrobial agent) and benzophenone-3 (sunscreen agent) can be used in personal care products, medications, paints, adhesives and in some medical products. Because several of these chemicals have demonstrated toxicity in experimental animals, alternative chemicals are entering the consumers market. Biomonitoring can be used to assess human exposure to the replaced, as well as to the replacement, chemicals and to evaluate exposure trends.
Antonia Calafat, Ph.D. National Center for Environmental Health, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  Chemicals in Consumer Products
Families today are deluged with headlines about environmental threats to children’s health present in consumer products, including children’s toys, furnishings and personal care products. They often turn to their physicians for answers. However, health care providers often lag behind their patients with respect to knowledge about environmental chemicals. This presentation focuses on examples and experience from the PEHSU National Network in translating emerging science on chemicals in consumer products to action.
Maida Galvez, M.D., M.P.H., Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  Chemicals Management Policy: Where Do Consumer Products Fit?
This session looks at some of the laws and regulations that attempt to protect the public by managing (or not) the health threats of chemicals contained in consumer products.
Jerome A. Paulson, M.D., George Washington University
3:25 – 3:45 p.m. Break
3:45 – 4:05 p.m. Highlight – 15 Years of the CEHC Program
University of California, Berkeley/Eskenazi and Columbia University
4:05 – 5:20 p.m. Session 4:  New Findings and Tools for Understanding the Effects of Early Exposures on Brain Function
A tremendous increase in the availability and application of brain imaging and functioning has opened many opportunities to better understand early brain development and how this can be impacted by environmental influences. The purpose of this session is to understand new techniques in brain imaging and how they relate to functional and diagnostic changes. Human evidence across examples of developmental neurotoxicants will be presented, using case examples. Immune system function also has proven that these pathways may contribute and be impacted during neurodevelopmental disorders. This session ends with a panel discussion that identifies new opportunities for application as well as discussion on how these novel methods will impact clinical practice.
  What Can Brain Imaging Tell Us: the Case of Organophosphate Insecticides
Recent work suggests that prenatal exposure to organophosphate insecticides is associated with deficits in birth weight, early cognition and behavior problems in childhood. This presentation focuses on advances in neuroimaging that provide a window into the structural brain disturbances that underlie these impairments.
Virginia Rauh, Sc.D., Columbia University
  Environmental Toxicant Exposure and Immunological Susceptibility: the Case of Autism
Characterization of the relationship between the immune and neuronal systems and their synergy with respect to environmental exposure is key to understanding the mechanisms through which toxicants can alter neurodevelopment, resulting in disorders such as autism. Emerging science concerning the role of environmental toxicant exposure in immune dysregulation in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) suggests that children with ASD have a differential ex vivo response to the toxicant BDE-49 as compared to typically developing control children.
Judy Van de Water, Ph.D., University of California, Davis
  The Impact of Early Environmental Exposures to Lead on Adult Neurodevelopmental Status: Neuroradiological and Behavioral Assessments
Many of the most important effects of early environmental exposures are only revealed in the fullness of time. Adult outcomes of urban inner-city subjects exposed to lead as infants and children are indexed using advanced neuroradiological and behavioral assessment tools. The current status of adult subjects enrolled in the Cincinnati Lead Study will be presented, including Magnetic Resonance Imaging (vMRI, fMRI, MRS, DTI) and behavioral adjustment studies as they reach their early 30s.
Kim Dietrich, Ph.D., M.A., University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
  Translation and Communication of Emerging Methods and Opportunities to Impact Clinical and Research Practice
Translation and communication of emerging methods and opportunities to impact clinical and research practice.

Discussant: Elaine Faustman, Ph.D.

Panel: Virginia Rauh, Sc.D.;
Judy Van de Water, Ph.D.;
Kim Dietrich, Ph.D., M.A.;
Kimberley Gray, Ph.D.;
Leslie Rubin, M.D.;
and Elaine Faustman, Ph.D.
5:20 – 5:45 p.m. Keynote

Could You Make Your Children's Health Research Understandable Even to Children?
The answer is, "yes," according to scientist-turned-filmmaker Dr. Randy Olson, author of Don't Be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style. He has a new way for you to present your research to the general public, and even to children (provided they have Ph.D.s—no, just kidding). It is called the WSP Model, which stands for one Word, one Sentence, and one Paragraph. But wait—there is more! At the core of the model are two templates—the ABT (And, But, Therefore) and the Logline. Most importantly, he and his colleague Dorie Barton have put this model into the CONNECTION STORYMAKER app, where you can put it to work for your own communications needs. In this session, they will show you how this new model provides a pathway to telling stories that are concise, clear and compelling—even to children (provided they have Master's degrees— no, just kidding again).
Randy Olson, Ph.D.
5:45 – 6:45 p.m. Poster/Networking Session
October 30, 2013
8:00 a.m. Registration
8:30 – 9:45 a.m. Session 5:  Next Steps for Collaboration Between the Children’s Environmental Health Centers and the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units
This session will highlight how effective collaborations that capitalize on research and clinical expertise can lead to important gains for the CEHCs, PEHSUs and the environmental health field. The presentation will give some concrete examples of current successful partnerships and ideas for future partnerships.  We will then break out into small groups of PEHSUs and CEHCs to brainstorm potential collaborations in the near future. The groups will then report back to the entire group on specific collaborations they will take on in the near future.
  Session Overview
Introductory remarks.
Pam Maxson, Ph.D., Duke University
  Why We Should Collaborate
This presentation highlights the importance of collaboration and partnerships for researchers, clinicians and the field of pediatric environmental health.
Patrice Sutton, M.P.H., University of California, San Francisco
  Overarching Ways to Collaborate
This presentation focuses on systems-based ways for the PEHSUs and CEHCs to collaborate.
Susan Buchanan, M.D., M.P.H., University of Illinois
  Specific Ideas and Examples for Collaboration
This presentation focuses on examples of current collaborations and ideas for future collaborations.
Sheela Sathyanarayana, M.D., M.P.H., University of Washington
9:45 – 10:55 a.m. Session 6: Social Context of Environmental Exposures  
This session examines the social context of environmental exposures in children’s environmental health.  Animal models are used as a means to understanding combined social and environmental stress.  The session includes discussions on the progress made in modeling issues that children face, in assessing risk and incorporating knowledge from the animal models into epidemiological work.
  Prenatal Stress and Neurotoxic Metals: If One is Bad, Then Two Must Be...?
This presentation describes cumulative Central Nervous System toxicity in rodents that results from combined exposures of prenatal stress with lead or methylmercury, risk factors that are co-occurring in the human environment, and that share biological substrates and produce common adverse outcomes.
Deborah Cory-Slechta, Ph.D., University of Rochester Medical School
  Maternal Stress and Pollution: Rewiring Brain in Offspring
This presentation provides research findings which confirm that combined respiratory exposure to diesel particles and social stress during pregnancy increase vulnerability of offspring to impaired postnatal brain development.
Richard L. Auten, M.D., Duke University Medical Center
  An Ecological Approach to Human Health Studies and Health Promotion
Addressing social and cumulative impacts may be a powerful way of building collaborative efforts among traditionally disparate groups. Opportunities for researchers, clinicians and policy makers include development of studies that reflect "real world" conditions as well as evaluating practical interventions that work across sectors.
Mark Miller, M.D., M.P.H., University of California, San Francisco, PEHSU
10:55 – 11:15 a.m. Break
11:15 – 11:30 a.m. Highlight – 15 Years of CEHC Program
The Johns Hopkins University and  University of Washington
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Session 7: The Clinical and Translational Implications of Epigenetics in Children’s Environmental Health
Epigenetics is a "hot" topic in basic research, but the field's impact on public health is yet to be determined. This session reviews the foundations of epigenetic programming in humans during development and how perturbations in this process impact children. Epigenetics provides researchers with a whole new set of biomarkers for identifying both exposures and disease, and will likely lead to new tools for population and clinical research. Ultimately, the power of manipulating epigenetic processes will be realized in the clinic, leading to new therapeutics. Following an overview of the field, we will first learn about how environmental chemicals (BPA and phthalates) directly impact epigenetic processes using an animal model, and then discuss the use of epigenetics in understanding mechanisms of environmental agents in disease causation in a longstanding cohort with precise and multiple exposure metrics.
  The Role of Epigenetics in the Spectrum of Human Health: From Basic Development Processes to Population Research and Therapeutics
An introduction to epigenetics research and its potential impact on biomedical research and clinical practices.
Joe Wiemels, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
  How Early BPA, Lead and Phthalates Exposures Alter the Epigenome and Health Outcomes Later in Life
Environmental exposures during early development induce changes to the epigenome resulting in potentially harmful phenotypic effects, including metabolic disease, cancer and neurological disorders. Utilizing a multi-pronged approach with an in vivo mouse model, human clinical samples and an ongoing 15-year longitudinal epidemiological study, the overall goal of this presentation is to elucidate the impact of perinatal BPA, phthalates and lead exposures on metabolic homeostasis and DNA methylation, and the interplay between the two.
Dana Dolinoy, Ph.D., University of Michigan
  Mechanistic Pathways Between Environmental Exposures and Epigenetic Changes
Presentation focuses on applying epidemiology to understand the mechanisms whereby environmental exposures cause epigenetic changes that affect human health.
Frederica Perera, Ph.D., Dr.P.H., Columbia University
12:30 – 12:55 p.m. Keynote

Protecting ALL Children's Health: Recognizing and Mitigating the Effects of Chronic Exposure to Adversity
Promoting the health and well-being of our nation’s vulnerable children requires the social determinants of health (SDoH) framework. In the United States, the SDoH framework must include a racial equity and racial healing lens. This talk will explore programs that are using innovative approaches to mobilize and support communities in their efforts to protect children and enhance their well-being.
Gail Christopher, DN
Kellogg Foundation
12:55 – 1:00 p.m. Closing Remarks
1:00 p.m. Adjournment


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