Environmental factors are major determinants of the health status and of disease outcomes in the general population. Chemical, physical, microbiological, and occupational exposures, including the built environment, affect every child and adult in the population.
These exposures are being increasingly recognized by the scientific community as emerging risk factors for multiple chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, kidney, and liver disease.
Welch Center faculty conduct population and clinical research to identify environmental risk factors for chronic diseases as well as preventive strategies that can reduce or eliminate environmental risks. Welch enter faculty have been instrumental in establishing the role of metal exposures, including lead, cadmium, arsenic, and mercury on cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and kidney disease. Through their research, supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Center for Disease Control, and the American Heart Association, they have made major contributions to the science underlying the regulation of metal exposure levels. Another major research theme of Welch Center faculty is to understand the effects of food and water contaminants, and to establish the net health benefits or harms of nutrients and contaminants in foods. Faculty interests also include the health consequences of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke, the role of the microbiome in the development of chronic diseases, and the interplay of environmental exposures in the development of fatty liver, liver fibrosis and liver cancer.
The Welch Center is committed to training future leaders in Environmental Epidemiology. In addition to leading the Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology track in the Department of Epidemiology, Welch Center faculty conduct multiple population-based studies, both in national and international settings, that provide a rich substrate for original research projects conducted by trainees.