UofL NIEHS T32 Training Program In Environmental Health Sciences

Our NIEHS T32 predoctoral and postdoctoral training program in environmental health sciences, recently was renewed for an additional five years (years 16-20)  thru June 30, 2026. The program funds 6 predoctoral and 3 postdoctoral fellowships. The program is open to all eligible students regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age. 

Exposure to environmental agents, either man-made or natural toxicants, or infectious agents plays a major role in the etiology of a spectrum of chromic human diseases, ranging from psychological disorders to cancer. Lifestyle factors including diet, exposure to tobacco smoke, consumption of alcohol, complications of addiction, and the built environment also are major environmental factors playing a role in the etiology of disease. It is clear neither toxicant exposures nor lifestyle factors are sole actors and interact with individual genetic profiles and developmental windows of susceptibility to cause disease. Thus, the etiology of chronic disease is quite complex and transdisciplinary research is essential to reveal the mechanisms of these interacting factors in pathogenesis. Our T32 training program prepares our trainees to consider multifactorial environmental health problems in multidisciplinary environmental health science research utilizing both integrative biology and translational approaches in our training.

Our NIEHS T32 predoctoral and postdoctoral training program focuses on integrating molecular, cellular and systems level knowledge to better understand the totality of the biological response under defined conditions, and then leverages these findings into the human population. The science of integrative biology is based on the application of systems theory to the study of biological behavior and pathways critical to the preservation of health or the onset and progression of disease. In the integrative biology paradigm, the complexity of the system is disassembled into individual parts (genes, proteins, metabolites) and then re-assembled to understand and predict biological behavior. Various components including whole organisms, tissues, cells and molecules along with genetic information must be modeled and integrated. Such studies are only possible when the technological tools required to dissect the complexity of the system are readily available. Key considerations in the process include the generation of quantitative data, the reduction of barriers in communication among scientists from different disciplines, and the creation of an organizational structure that facilitates research in integrative biology. The premise guiding most environmental research to date has been that specific chemicals and environmental insults are characterized by a unique fingerprint of biological activity. Integrative biology is teaching us that distinct environmental insults often share common molecular targets and that the cellular response involves concomitant activation and repression of multiple interconnected pathways. Through this approach, our program prepares our trainees in understanding the interactions of environmental toxicant exposure and lifestyle factors in pathogenesis to become the next generation of leaders in environmental health.

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