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Children's Center Research Highlighted at Pediatric Meeting

By Eddy Ball
January 2009

Photo of Kimberly Gray, Ph.D.
Gray, above, is shown in her element - interacting with grantees at a 2008 meeting of cardiopulmonary researchers, several of them involved specifically in children's environmental health. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

This year, NIEHS enjoyed a higher profile at the world's premier gathering of pediatric professionals - the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) Annual Meeting May 2-5 in Baltimore. The meeting featured three special sessions on NIEHS Children's Environmental Health Center research developed by NIEHS Health Scientist Administrator Kimberly Gray, Ph.D. NIEHS grantees were also participants and presenters in four other sessions at the meeting.

Gray said one of her goals at the meeting was to help integrate the Children's Environmental Health program into the spectrum of other NIEHS-funded research in important critical areas of development, including the role of DNA methylation and the characterization of developmental health effects, such as autism and ADHD, related to environmental exposures.

The NIEHS presence at the PAS Annual Meeting involved special sessions with grantees and principal investigators from each of the ten institutions in the NIEHS Centers for Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research program.

  • A Hot Topic symposium on "Epigenomic Changes Related to Environmental Exposures in Children" May 2, providing an integrated summary of new studies of the relationship between the environment and epigenetics in children conducted by investigators from the Children's Environmental Health Centers, was chaired by Frederica Perera, Dr.P.H., Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, and Robert Wright, M.D., ( Exit NIEHS School of Public Health at Harvard University.
  • A Mini-Course on "Contributing Factors That Influence the Relationship between Environmental Exposures and Children's Health," May 3, exploring the effects of other factors that influence the biological response to environment agents and the risk of adverse health outcomes in children based on research by NIEHS and U.S. EPA Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Center investigators, was chaired by Gray. Participants included investigators from Harvard University, the University of Southern California, University of California Berkeley and Columbia University, as well as a new NIEHS early stage investigator from Duke University, Catherine Hoyo, Ph.D.
  • A Topic Symposium on "Environmental Influences on Development Disorders and Dysfunction in Young Children," May 4, focusing on the role of the environment in the etiology or exacerabation in mental health disease and disorders in children as well as the potential causal pathways and the importance of new measures of intermediate clinical phenotypes and the effects of drug therapies as potential confounders, was chaired by Gray and Virginia Rauh, Sc.D., ( Exit NIEHS Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

NIEHS grantees also participated in a Platform Session on "Environmental Health," a Special Symposium on "The National Children's Study: Moving into the Field," and the second Annual Debate on Controversies in Pediatric Environmental Health, "Should Pediatricians Advise Parents to feed their Children Organic Foods?" On the final day of the meeting, a topic symposium on "Environmental Contributions to Autism Risk" featured NIEHS-funded researchers from the University of California, Davis Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (M.I.N.D.) Institute. ( Exit NIEHS

The PAS is comprised of four individual pediatric organizations that co-sponsor the PAS Annual Meeting- the American Pediatric Society, the Society for Pediatric Research, the Academic Pediatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The PAS also collaborate with 22 Alliance Partners, which are subspecialty societies and clubs that meet or co-host programming during the PAS Annual Meeting.

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