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Research Grants

NIEHS/EPA Children’s Environmental Health Centers: Southern California Children’s Environmental Health Center

Institution: University of Southern California
Center Director: Rob McConnell, M.D.
Project Period: July 2013 – June 2018

Research Questions

Project 1: How can exposure to air pollution increase children’s risk for obesity?
Project 2: Does exposure to air pollution increase children’s risk of diabetes?
Project 3: What is the impact of longitude on the relationship between air pollution and obesity?

Keywords: Air Pollution, Diabetes, Diet, Obesity


Obesity and diabetes have emerged as critical issues in children’s health.  While a sedentary lifestyle and a high-fat diet are directly linked to both, another possible factor is air pollution. This center is studying the impacts of air pollution on childhood obesity and diabetes. A better understanding of the causes of childhood obesity is needed to develop effective interventions. Results from this center will benefit the children and general population of Southern California, where air pollution continues to be a major health risk.

Project Abstract and Annual Reports:  Southern California Children's Environmental Health Center
Center Website: Southern California Children's Environmental Health Center Exit

Research Projects

Project 1: Effects of Air Pollution on the Development of Obesity in Children
Recent studies indicate that exposure to air pollution increases childhood obesity and has the potential to contribute to diabetes and heart disease. This project is investigating if air pollution exposure, specifically near major roadways, during pregnancy and early childhood has an effect on obesity.

Project Leader: Frank Gilliland, M.P.H., Ph.D., University of Southern California

Project 2: Near-Roadway Air Pollution, Adipose Inflammation and Metabolic Consequences
This project is investigating how air pollution contributes to obesity. Researchers are examining the effects of near-roadway air pollution on fat distribution, inflammation and metabolic changes associated with increased risk for diabetes and heart disease.

Project Leader: Rob McConnell, M.D., University of Southern California

Project 3: Longitudinal Effects of Air Pollution on Obesity in Mice
Although exposure to air pollution during childhood is associated with obesity, there is little data on the long-term effects. This project is using mice to observe any metabolic, molecular, biochemical and neurological consequences of early exposures to air pollution. The findings from this study will be used to better understand the long-term effects of air pollution in humans. p>

Project Leader: Hooman Ailayee, Ph.D., University of Southern California