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Environmental and Occupational Health
environmental and occupational health

Environmental and Occupational Health

Who's Making Sure
Our Environment
Isn't Making Us Sick?
Learn more
our research centers

Our Research Centers

Get involved in our research centers, where you can join a research project or help translate findings into practice and policy.
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our faculty

Our Faculty

Meet the faculty who will teach and mentor you, and learn about the innovative research projects they're directing.
Meet our faculty
our alumni

Our Alumni

Read about what our graduates are doing in the environmental and occupational health field.
Meet our alumni

Environmental and Occupational Health

The Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH) Department has a sound reputation as a leader in training students to...
  • Identify agents that affect health
  • Study the long-term effects of environmental and occupational health risks
  • Determine the molecular mechanisms of toxic agents that contribute to the development of certain illnesses and diseases.

Environmental health specialists help find ways to promote healthier environments and minimize risks that increase the incidence of respiratory, cardiovascular, and musculoskeletal diseases, asthma, lower respiratory infections, road traffic injuries, poisonings, and drownings.
Occupational health specialists study all aspects of health and safety in the workplace. From exposure to toxins on the job, to workplace violence and lifting injuries, occupational hazards create an enormous health burden, unnecessary pain and suffering, and economic loss in the workplace.

Find a research program for your interests

Many EOH faculty members collaborate with basic sciences and clinical investigators throughout other departments at Pitt Public Health, and the University of Pittsburgh schools of medicine and engineering. Students and faculty perform studies on the principles and practice of environmental health ranging from basic research at the cellular and molecular level to applied translational studies of human disease, population exposure, and public health studies.

In addition, faculty and students work with local governmental organizations, such as the Allegheny County Health Department, the Pittsburgh Office of the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority to study and improve the environmental health of southwestern Pennsylvania.

Pursue a career in environmental and occupational health

Doctoral degree graduates are prepared to work in laboratory-based academic settings as faculty or postdoctoral fellows and become prominent members of government agencies and independent industries. Recent graduates have obtained fellowships at top-tier academic institutions, positions with
the National Institutes of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency, and in firms conducting chemical and environmental risk assessment.

Master's degree graduates play prominent roles as environmental/occupational health practitioners in various settings, including industry, hospitals, government agencies, and private practice.

Degrees

The EOH Department offers two degrees in the environmental health sciences, providing a broad theoretical and practical education for positions in academia, industry, or government. The multiple tracks provide flexibility in acquiring advance training in toxicology, environmental biophysics, molecular and cellular pathobiology, risk assessment, and exposure science. Our professional degree program allows students to earn concentrations in environmental health or risk assessment and apply these concepts to public health practice. Our doctorate-level professional degree program in environmental health sciences provides education for those who aspire to high-level administration or decision-making leadership positions.

 

EPI's Jennifer Adibi to address 2018 One Health One Community Symposium at Phipps

EPi's  JENNIFER ADIBI has been...
EPI's Jennifer Adibi to address 2018 One Health One Community Symposium at Phipps

EPi's  JENNIFER ADIBI has been announced as a featured speaker for the 2018 One Health One Community Symposium at Phipps Conservatory.  Taking Place on March 7 & 8, this year's event will center on the theme "Health Impacts: Chemicals of Concern in the Environment," with a special focus on endocrine... (01/19/2018)

Goldstein advises Dow Chemical on sustainability

SUSTAINABLE BRANDS - The Dow C...
Goldstein advises Dow Chemical on sustainability

SUSTAINABLE BRANDS - The Dow Chemical Company counts EOH's BERNARD GOLDSTEIN among its 8-member Sustainability External Advisory Council (SEAC),  the first of its kind in the petrochemical industry. The council has a significant influence on Dow’s approach to sustainability and environment, health a... (12/20/2017)

Kagan helps find mechanism of dendritic cell needed for antitumor immune response

DRUG TARGET REVIEW - A team in...
Kagan helps find mechanism of dendritic cell needed for antitumor immune response

DRUG TARGET REVIEW - A team including EOH researcher VALERIAN KAGAN has revealed the mechanism causing defective function of tumour-associated dendritic cells, explaining why they’re ineffective in inducing antitumor immune responses and effective cancer treatment. The findings could lead to new str... (12/15/2017)

Goldstein comments on new study findings: Low birth weights linked to fracking sites

STATE IMPACT - Infants born to...
Goldstein comments on new study findings: Low birth weights linked to fracking sites

STATE IMPACT - Infants born to mothers who live very close to natural gas fracking sites have a higher risk of low birth weight, according to a new peer-reviewed study published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances . In response to the findings, EOH professor emeritus BERNARD GOLDSTEIN noted t... (12/13/2017)

Kagan and Bayir unlock clues to cell death

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - “Bet...
Kagan and Bayir unlock clues to cell death

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - “Better treatments for traumatic brain injury and acute kidney injuries are desperately needed,” stated Hulya Bayir HULYA BAYIR (EOH). VALERIAN KAGAN (EOH), the study’s senior author, was key in discovering the protein’s important role in the cell-death process. (10/19/2017)

 

Thu
1/25
EOH Journal Club
EOH Journal Club - Spring 2018 - Hsiu-Chi Ting EOH Journal Club
EOH Journal Club - Spring 2018 - Hsiu-Chi Ting
Thu 1/25 11:00AM - 12:00PM
Public Health 4140

EOH Journal Club Seminar - Spring 2018
Date: Thursday January 25, 2018
Time: 11am - 12pm
Presenter: Hsiu-Chi Ting

Paper: Selenium Utilization by GPX4 Is Required to Prevent Hydroperoxide-Induced Ferroptosis

Authors: Ingold I, Berndt C, Schmitt S, et. Al.

Abstract: Selenoproteins are rare proteins among all kingdoms of life containing the 21st amino acid, selenocysteine. Selenocysteine resembles cysteine, differing only by the substitution of selenium for sulfur. Yet the actual advantage of selenolate- versus thiolate-based catalysis has remained enigmatic, as most of the known selenoproteins also exist as cysteine-containing homologs. Here, we demonstrate that selenolate-based catalysis of the essential mammalian selenoprotein GPX4 is unexpectedly dispensable for normal embryogenesis. Yet the survival of a specific type of interneurons emerges to exclusively depend on selenocysteine-containing GPX4, thereby preventing fatal epileptic seizures. Mechanistically, selenocysteine utilization by GPX4 confers exquisite resistance to irreversible overoxidation as cells expressing a cysteine variant are highly sensitive toward peroxide-induced ferroptosis. Remarkably, concomitant deletion of all selenoproteins in Gpx4cys/cys cells revealed that selenoproteins are dispensable for cell viability provided partial GPX4 activity is retained. Conclusively, 200 years after its discovery, a specific and indispensable role for selenium is provided

Thu
2/1
EOH Journal Club
EOH Journal Club - Spring 2018 - Qiao Lin EOH Journal Club
EOH Journal Club - Spring 2018 - Qiao Lin
Thu 2/1 11:00AM - 12:00PM
Public Health 4140

EOH Journal Club Seminar - Spring 2018
Date: Thursday February 1, 2018
Time: 11am - 12pm
Presenter: Qiao Lin

Paper: Ion channels enable electrical communication in bacterial communities

Authors: Prindle A, Liu J, Asally M, Ly S, Garcia-Ojalvo J, Süel GM

Abstract: The study of bacterial ion channels has provided fundamental insights into the structural basis of neuronal signalling; however, the native role of ion channels in bacteria has remained elusive. Here we show that ion channels conduct long-range electrical signals within bacterial biofilm communities through spatially propagating waves of potassium. These waves result from a positive feedback loop, in which a metabolic trigger induces release of intracellular potassium, which in turn depolarizes neighbouring cells. Propagating through the biofilm, this wave of depolarization coordinates metabolic states among cells in the interior and periphery of the biofilm. Deletion of the potassium channel abolishes this response. As predicted by a mathematical model, we further show that spatial propagation can be hindered by specific genetic perturbations to potassium channel gating. Together, these results demonstrate a function for ion channels in bacterial biofilms, and provide a prokaryotic paradigm for active, long-range electrical signalling in cellular communities

Thu
2/8
EOH Journal Club
EOH Journal Club - Spring 2018 - Omar Tahtamooni EOH Journal Club
EOH Journal Club - Spring 2018 - Omar Tahtamooni
Thu 2/8 11:00AM - 12:00PM


EOH Journal Club Seminar - Spring 2018
Date: Thursday February 8, 2018
Time: 11am - 12pm
Presenter: Omar Tahtamooni

Paper: Ambient air pollution and thrombosis

Authors: Robertson S1, Miller MR

Abstract: Air pollution is a growing public health concern of global significance. Acute and chronic exposure is known to impair cardiovascular function, exacerbate disease and increase cardiovascular mortality. Several plausible biological mechanisms have been proposed for these associations, however, at present, the pathways are incomplete. A seminal review by the American Heart Association (2010) concluded that the thrombotic effects of particulate air pollution likely contributed to their effects on cardiovascular mortality and morbidity. The aim of the current review is to appraise the newly accumulated scientific evidence (2009-2016) on contribution of haemostasis and thrombosis towards cardiovascular disease induced by exposure to both particulate and gaseous pollutants.Seventy four publications were reviewed in-depth. The weight of evidence suggests that acute exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) induces a shift in the haemostatic balance towards a pro-thrombotic/pro-coagulative state. Insufficient data was available to ascertain if a similar relationship exists for gaseous pollutants, and very few studies have addressed long-term exposure to ambient air pollution. Platelet activation, oxidative stress, interplay between interleukin-6 and tissue factor, all appear to be potentially important mechanisms in pollution-mediated thrombosis, together with an emerging role for circulating microvesicles and epigenetic changes.Overall, the recent literature supports, and arguably strengthens, the contention that air pollution contributes to cardiovascular morbidity by promoting haemostasis. The volume and diversity of the evidence highlights the complexity of the pathophysiologic mechanisms by which air pollution promotes thrombosis; multiple pathways are plausible and it is most likely they act in concert. Future research should address the role gaseous pollutants play in the cardiovascular effects of air pollution mixture and direct comparison of potentially susceptible groups to healthy individuals.

Thu
2/15
EOH Journal Club
EOH Journal Club - Spring 2018 - Brandy Hill EOH Journal Club
EOH Journal Club - Spring 2018 - Brandy Hill
Thu 2/15 11:00AM - 12:00PM
Public Health 4140

EOH Journal Club Seminar - Spring 2018
Date: Thursday February 15, 2018
Time: 11am - 12pm
Presenter: Brandy Hill

Paper: γPNA FRET Pair Miniprobes for Quantitative Fluorescent In Situ Hybridization to Telomeric DNA in Cells and Tissue

Authors: Orenstein A, Berlyoung AS, Rastede EE, Pham HH, Fouquerel E, Murphy CT, Leibowitz BJ, Yu J, Srivastava T, Armitage BA, Opresko PL

Abstract: Measurement of telomere length by fluorescent in situ hybridization is widely used for biomedical and epidemiological research, but there has been relatively little development of the technology in the 20 years since it was first reported. This report describes the use of dual gammaPNA (γPNA) probes that hybridize at alternating sites along a telomere and give rise to Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) signals. Bright staining of telomeres is observed in nuclei, chromosome spreads and tissue samples. The use of FRET detection also allows for elimination of wash steps, normally required to remove unhybridized probes that would contribute to background signals. We found that these wash steps can diminish the signal intensity through the removal of bound, as well as unbound probes, so eliminating these steps not only accelerates the process but also enhances the quality of staining. Thus, γPNA FRET pairs allow for brighter and faster staining of telomeres in a wide range of research and clinical formats.

Thu
2/22
EOH Journal Club
EOH Journal Club - Spring 2018 - Arron Chia-Hsin Liu EOH Journal Club
EOH Journal Club - Spring 2018 - Arron Chia-Hsin Liu
Thu 2/22 11:00AM - 12:00PM
Public Health 4140

EOH Journal Club Seminar - Spring 2018
Date: Thursday February 22, 2018
Time: 11am - 12pm
Presenter: Arron Chia-Hsin Liu

Paper: Gut microbiome influences efficacy of PD-1-based immunotherapy against epithelial tumors

Authors: Routy B, Le Chatelier E, et Al.

Abstract: Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) targeting the PD-1/PD-L1 axis induce sustained clinical responses in a sizable minority of cancer patients. We found that primary resistance to ICIs can be attributed to abnormal gut microbiome composition. Antibiotics inhibited the clinical benefit of ICIs in patients with advanced cancer. Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) from cancer patients who responded to ICIs into germ-free or antibiotic-treated mice ameliorated the antitumor effects of PD-1 blockade, whereas FMT from nonresponding patients failed to do so. Metagenomics of patient stool samples at diagnosis revealed correlations between clinical responses to ICIs and the relative abundance of Akkermansia muciniphila Oral supplementation with A. muciniphila after FMT with nonresponder feces restored the efficacy of PD-1 blockade in an interleukin-12-dependent manner by increasing the recruitment of CCR9+CXCR3+CD4+ T lymphocytes into mouse tumor beds.

© 2018 by University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

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