Dr. Jamie Young awarded NIH diversity research grant

Jamie L. Young, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology has been awarded an NIH diversity research grant thru the Center for Integrative Environmental Health Sciences. 

Dr. Jamie Young

The Young laboratory seeks to develop insight into how environmental toxicants affect health and cause disease, focusing on environmental liver disease (ELD). Chronic liver disease kills over 2 million people in the United States each year. However, despite advances at the bench and in the clinic, the prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), the most common chronic liver disease, has more than doubled in last two decades and remains on the rise. A “two hit” hypothesis has been used to explain the multifaceted nature of NAFLD with one factor causing a ‘first hit’ sensitizing the liver to a ‘second hit’, resulting in disease progression. The “two hit” hypothesis has focused on factors that alter lipid metabolism, constricting the paradigm to a single hit – fat accumulation. Thus, the second hit driving disease remains unknown. The Young laboratory takes a novel approach to investigating liver disease by studying chromosome instability, a form of genomic instability that occurs when a cell has an abnormal number of chromosomes or altered chromosome structure, as the second hit driving NAFLD severity and progression. Studies include investigating how sex and age modulate these effects while promoting advances in risk assessment and management of two environmental chemicals of major health concern that are commonly found together: hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)], an established human carcinogen and inducer of chromosome instability, and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), established metabolic toxicants associated with hepatic lipid dysregulation and accumulation. Research in the Young laboratory spans molecular, cellular, animal and population-based studies with the goal of providing a platform for the creation of novel target therapies and diagnostic tools related to sex (as a biological variable) and age differences in disease etiology.