NIH/EPA Centers of Excellence on Environmental Health Disparities Research Kick-off Meeting: Center Director Biographies
The Centers of Excellence on Environmental Health Disparities (EHD) research program is a collaborative effort supported by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that encourages basic, biological, clinical, epidemiological, behavioral and/or social scientific investigations of disease conditions that are known to be a significant burden in low socioeconomic and health disparate populations. The centers define environmental health disparities as inequities in illnesses that are mediated by disproportionate exposures associated with the social, natural and built environments.
EHD Center Director Biographies:
Center for Indigenous Environmental Health Research
Jeff Burgess, M.D., M.S., M.P.H.
Dr. Burgess is the Associate Dean for Research at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. His research projects are focused on reducing toxic exposures and preventing injuries. His occupational research has focused on miners, firefighters and other first responders. His environmental focus has been the evaluation of population-level exposures to arsenic in drinking water and diet and improvement of emergency preparedness. He also leads a training program in industrial hygiene, and is the Principal Investigator for the Mountain West Preparedness and Emergency Response Learning Center, which helps public health professionals and communities be better prepared for disasters of all types. Dr. Burgess directs the NIH/EPA Center for Indigenous Environmental Health Research, which will assist tribal populations in addressing adverse environmental exposures.
Stephanie Rainie, Dr. P.H., M.P.H.
Dr. Rainie is an Assistant Research Professor at the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy and an Assistant Professor in the Public Health Policy and Management Program at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona. She is also the Associate Director and Manager of the Tribal Health Program for the Native Nations Institute in the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy. Her research explores the links between governance, health care, the environment, community and wellness. She collaborates with a community of tribal leaders and program staff, researchers and students at the University of Arizona and elsewhere.
Maternal and Developmental Risks from Environmental and Social Stressors (MADRES) Center
Frank Gilliland, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D.
Dr. Gilliland is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. His research focuses on environmental epidemiology of acute and chronic diseases, epidemiology of respiratory diseases, obesity and environmental genomics. He is also the principal investigator of the Children’s Health Study (CHS), a groundbreaking study of the chronic effects of air pollution on children’s respiratory health. Dr. Gilliland co-directs the NIH/EPA Maternal and Developmental Risks from Environmental and Social Stressors (MADRES) Center, which will address racial and ethnic disparities in childhood obesity.
Carrie Breton, Sc.D.
Dr. Breton is an Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. The goals of her research program is to understand how environmental exposures in early life contribute to the increased risk of cardio-respiratory and metabolic disease later in life. She also seeks to understand the roles of genetic and epigenetic mechanisms underlying these associations. Dr. Breton co-directs the NIH/EPA Maternal and Developmental Risks from Environmental and Social Stressors (MADRES) Center at USC.
Center for Comparing Urban and Rural Effects of Poverty on COPD
Nadia Hansel, M.D.
Dr. Hansel is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her areas of clinical expertise include allergy and immunology, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Her research interests include genetic and environmental determinants of obstructive airway diseases. Much of her recent work has focused on environmental exposures, including indoor air quality, asthma and COPD outcomes. She also serves as the Associate Dean for Research at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Dr. Hansel directs the NIH/EPA Center for Comparing Urban and Rural Effects of Poverty on COPD, which will study the role of indoor air pollution exposures on COPD morbidity in low income communities.
Center for Disparities in Exposure and Health Effects of Multiple Environmental Stressors across the Life Course
Francine Laden, Sc.D., M.S.
Dr. Laden is a Professor of Environmental Epidemiology at the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her research focuses on the environmental epidemiology of cancer and respiratory disease. She has been working with the Nurses’ Health Study, a large prospective cohort of U.S. women, to examine possible environmental risk factors of breast cancer and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She is also involved in two studies examining the relationship of exposure to diesel exhaust with lung cancer and other respiratory mortality. Dr. Laden co-directs the NIH/EPA Center for Disparities in Exposure and Health Effects of Multiple Environmental Stressors across the Life Course, which will provide a mechanistic view of the complex interactions between environmental exposures and social determinants of health, leading to evidence on the most efficient intervention targets to reduce disparities.
Jonathan Levy, Sc.D.
Dr. Levy is a Professor of Environmental Health at the Boston University School of Public Health. His research centers on air pollution exposure assessment and health risk assessment, with a focus on urban environments and issues of heterogeneity and equity. Major research topics include evaluating spatial patterns of air pollution in complex urban terrain, developing methods to quantify the magnitude and distribution of health benefits associated with emissions controls for motor vehicles and power plants, and using systems science approaches to evaluate the influence of indoor environmental exposures on pediatric asthma in low-income housing. He has been a member of several National Research Council committees and has served on the Advisory Council on Clean Air Compliance Analysis, which provided guidance to EPA on the impact of the Clean Air Act on health, the economy and the environment. Dr. Levy co-directs the NIH/EPA Center for Disparities in Exposure and Health Effects of Multiple Environmental Stressors across the Life Course.
Center for Native American Environmental Health Equity Research
Johnnye Lewis, Ph.D.
Dr. Lewis is a professor at the College of Pharmacy, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center. She is a toxicologist and the principal investigator for the Navajo Birth Cohort Study, a community driven study on the relationship of uranium exposures, birth outcomes and child development on Navajo Nation. She also directs the Community Environmental Health Program at the University of New Mexico. Dr. Lewis directs the NIH/EPA Center for Native American Environmental Health Equity Research, which will examine and compare mechanisms of toxicity in mining waste metal mixtures of different composition across three tribal populations.
Melissa Gonzales, Ph.D.
Dr. Gonzales is an Associate Professor in the Division of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Preventive Medicine at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center. Her research focuses on health disparities and the effects of complex environmental exposure scenarios among New Mexico’s large and diverse Hispanic and Native American populations. She has been a member of several National Academies of Sciences committees and is an active member of the Cancer Control and Disparities Program at the UNM Cancer Center. She is an educator in the UNM School of Medicine, Inter-Professional Education, Preventive Medicine and Public Health programs. Her research and teaching objectives broadly encompass reducing uncertainty in key environmental exposures, risk and resilience factors to shape evidence-based policies and interventions. Dr. Gonzales co-directs the NIH/EPA Center for Native American Environmental Health Equity Research and co-leads the community engagement and environmental monitoring and interpretation cores.