The Center for Environmental Genomics and Integrative Biology (CEGIB) is a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) core center at University of Louisville that focuses on the application of genomics and integrative biology to problems in environmental health. CEGIB supports outstanding basic and translational investigations into the etiology of environmental disease and the development of new approaches to manage these conditions. This history is the context in which CEGIB was created in June 2007. During its first two and a half years of existence, CEGIB has capitalized on its resources and the expertise of its members to substantially impact development of environmental health related research at UofL.
CEGIB is headquartered in the HSC and has interactions with all Schools at the HSC as well as several Schools on the Belknap Campus.
The Center supports facility cores in Bioinformatics, Biostatistics and Computational Biology, Proteomics Biomarker Discovery, and Integrative Health Sciences. These cores provide expertise and facilities to advance research efforts in the areas of environmental cardiology, environmental carcinogenesis, and developmental origins of health and disease. Our Integrated Health Sciences Facility Core (IHSFC) has educated UofL researchers on potential translation of their research findings into products for disease diagnosis and treatment, thus assisting in the progression of basic science discoveries into new and better treatments and practices. Our Career Development Core and Pilot Project Program have focused on young scientists and contributed to their professional development and assisted in the establishment of their research programs. The creation of a Center with a resolute focus on environmental genomics and integrative biology complements NIEHS’ goal to understand the etiology of environmental disease at its most fundamental levels and provide a visible infrastructure for advancement of the Institute’s agenda in the post-genomic era.
Our NIEHS funded research base has evolved over the past three years and currently funded projects are focused on environmental influences on cardiovascular, liver and pulmonary disease.
The COEC has successfully established CEGIB’s presence in the community and opened doors for establishment of community-based research programs throughout the region. Its impact is evident in terms of the numbers of new grant applications submitted that utilize Center resources for development of community-centered programs. The Network being created will provide community and university investigators with needed infrastructure to examine the causes and consequences of diabetes and obesity, assess the contribution of the environment and pollutants, test specific prevention strategies and help develop large scale genetic studies to identify specific genetic and environmental determinants of these conditions in our community.
It is widely recognized that the environmental health problems faced by the nation are multi-factorial in nature, and therefore require multi-disciplinary approaches for effective intervention. CEGIB brings together established and junior scientists with a broad range of expertise to focus on environmental health problems. Major diseases studied within the scope of the Center’s research programs include birth defects, cancer, cardiovascular and renal diseases, reproductive anomalies, diabetes and the obesity epidemic. Investigations into the mechanisms of these diseases focuses on broadly defined environmental factors such as aldehydes, aromatic and heterocyclic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), metals, environmental tobacco smoke, particulate matter, natural toxins, the built environment and obesity.
Outstanding research in environmental genomics and integrative biology, coupled to clinical and public health translation and community outreach and education is clearly an effective way to promote the overall health status and well-being of the people of Kentucky, and specifically residents in the Louisville Metro Area which encompasses Louisville and its surrounding counties in Kentucky and southern Indiana. This region has historically faced significant environmental health challenges related to tobacco smoking, industrial hygiene, and occupational and environmental diseases. In its short existence, CEGIB has made possible new research avenues for its members and promoted synergistic collaborations that would have otherwise not occurred.