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Climate Change and Airborne Contaminants

Effect of environmental exposures on lung disease progression

RIG members have access to animal models, patient samples and questionnaires that allows the members to translate findings of how environmental exposures (air pollution, pesticides, nanoparticles) drive infectious and inflammatory lung diseases. The membership of this RIG has expertise in inhalation toxicology, lipid metabolism, innate immunity and pulmonary fibrosis.

Main goal: Foster collaboration and exchange of ideas amongst members and facilitate more NIEHS funding.

Group Leader

Sivaraman, Vijay
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Email  |  Personal website

My focus is on pulmonary responses and disease associated with microbial and environmental factors. Recently, a major focus has resided with the effects of juvenile binge alcohol exposure, and its contribution to adult pulmonary dysfunction and responses to disease.

Sousan, Sinan
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Public Health
Email  |  Personal website


Adler, Kenneth B.
Professor, Dept. of Molecular Biomedical Sciences
Email  |  Personal website

Research in the Adler Lab centers around the molecule known as MARCKS (Myristoylated Alanine-Rich C Kinase Substrate). This lab was the first to develop a means to inhibit MARCKS’ function in cells, and we have found that MARCKS is involved integrally in several critical cell functions; in fact, overactivity or overexpression of MARCKS is associated with several disease states. A drug based on basic research in this laboratory has been developed and tested in human patients with inflammatory airway disease. Additional pre-clinical studies indicate that inhibition of MARCKS may be a therapeutic target in Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome as well as cancer metastasis, and the current direction of the lab is towards defining the role of MARCKS in these disease areas.

Bang, John
Professor, Dept. of Environmental, Earth and Geospatial Sciences, NCCU
Email  |  Personal website

The research theme of Bang’s group is to obtain fundamental understanding in behavioral characteristics of small particles and their interfacial interactions with various environmental factors. The group intends to develop methods to identify environmental and human health related challenges and their solutions. The group’s current research focus in environmental health incudes: 1) Free radicals on Beta amyloid dysfunction, 2) PM induced health disparity, and 3) Nanofabrication for environmental remediation.

Binder, Andrew
Associate Professor, Dept. of Communication
Co-Director, Community Engagement Core
Email Personal website

Dr. Binder’s research focuses on people’s concerns related to science, technology, and risk and understanding how people make sense of these topics. His published research has focused on a variety of issues, from public opinion of climate change, to social media conversations about nuclear power, and to community controversies surrounding the building of a new national biological research facility in the mainland United States. He coordinates scholarly exchanges of ideas between Center members and other researchers at NC State, consults with Center members on the integration of community engagement into their research projects, and trains Center members in social science perspectives on environmental health research.

Bonner, James C.
Professor, Dept. of Biological Sciences
Email  |  Personal website

Our goal is to explore and elucidate mechanisms of lung disease Our goal is to investigate the cellular and molecular mechanisms of lung disease pathogenesis (asthma, fibrosis, cancer) caused by exposure to engineered nanoparticles. Our research seeks to elucidate how nanoparticles exacerbate the severity of allergen-induced lung disease using mouse models in vivo and human lung cells in vitro. This work also provides fundamental information for determining the human health risks of emerging nanomaterials to aid in the design of safe nanotechnologies for the future. 

Gerald, Carressa
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Environmental, Earth and Geospatial Sciences, NCCU
Email  |  Personal website

Impact of environmental pollutants on airway epithelial cells. Agricultural dusts of livestock and poultry managements. Nutraceuticals and their anti-inflammatory properties. Mechanisms of oxidant-mediated signaling in airway epithelia. Genomics/Proteomics/ Metabolomics of respiratory diseases affecting humans and animals.

Hoppin, Jane A.
Associate Professor, Dept. of Biological Sciences
Email  |  Personal website

My research focuses on the human health effects of pesticides and phthalates with particular focus on respiratory and allergic outcomes. We are currently evaluating the impact of specific pesticide exposure in populations with different types of exposure (farmers, rural residents, families living in banana plantations).  Using epidemiologic tools to assess exposure and different measures to assess exposure (questionnaires, biological markers, geospatial mapping), we are able to better understand the potential human health consequences of these common exposures.

Mattingly, Carolyn J.
Professor/Head, Dept. of Biological Sciences
Email  |  Personal website

The goal of my research program is to improve understanding about environmental influences on human health and disease using different approaches including: development of the publicly available Comparative Toxicogenomics Database and using the zebrafish model to understand how environmental exposures perturb vertebrate development.

May, Katlyn 
Co-Director, Community Engagement Core
Email  |  Personal website

I am a community engagement practitioner with the Community Engagement Cores for CHHE and the Center for Environmental and Health Effects of PFAS. I am currently completing my doctoral work in Science Education, focusing on informal and non-formal learning interventions related to environmental health literacy (EHL). My research interests include EHL, public perceptions of environmental health, program evaluation, and effective science communication strategies.

Onyenwoke, Rob
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Pharmaceutical Sciences
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Schal, Coby
Blanton J. Whitmire Distinguished Professor, Dept. of Entomology
Email  |  Personal website

Our research seeks to elucidate the basic biology of pests that interact with people in residential and other built environments, and to translate this knowledge to innovative and ecologically sound interventions. Cockroaches are important etiological agents of allergic disease and asthma and we seek to understand the sources of allergens, their functions, and intervention strategies to mitigate exposure to potentially harmful allergens. Research on bed bugs seeks to understand their host associations, population genetic structure, and patterns of insecticide resistance. Research in chemical ecology seeks to identify natural products that guide various behaviors of cockroaches, bed bugs, mosquitoes, sand flies, ants and termites.

Sousan, Sinan
Assistant Professor, Department of Public Health
Email  |  Personal website

Dr. Sousan’s research focuses on airborne exposures (aerosols and toxic gases) and their health effects. His specific expertise is related to exposure measurements and the possible health effects based on the quantitative analysis of the data collected. His current active projects are personal exposure using low-cost sensors, respiratory protection and respirator efficiency test, quantifying secondhand electronic cigarette exposure, and detecting airborne pathogens inside residential halls and occupational sites. His interest extends to physical hazards such as extreme temperatures, UV exposure, and noise. 

Thomassen, Mary Jane
Professor, Dept. of Internal Medicine
Email Personal website

Yang, Shu
Associate Professor, Dept. of Statistics  
Email  |  Personal website

Shu Yang is Associate Professor of Statistics and University Faculty Scholar at North Carolina State University. She received her Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics and Statistics from Iowa State University and postdoctoral training at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her primary research interest is causal inference and data integration, particularly with applications to comparative effectiveness research in health studies. She also works extensively on methods for missing data and spatial statistics. She has been Principal Investigator for several U.S. National Science Foundation and National Institute of Health research projects.