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Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences

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Our Division has research labs housing a number of investigators with diverse research interests addressing the role of exposure in disease pathogenesis.

Lisa Maier, MD, has a special interest in defining genetic, exposure, and immunologic factors which result in granulomatous lung disease of known and unknown cause, primarily chronic beryllium disease (CBD) and sarcoidosis. In addition, she is evaluating the natural history of beryllium sensitization and CBD. By investigating the risk factors for these diseases and more severe forms of disease, the goal of this research is to define biological markers or predictors of who will develop disease and more progressive forms of disease, and determine interventions to prevent and treat these diseases.

Brian Day, PhD, has a special interest in discovering the role of oxidants and antioxidants in lung injury and repair. He is currently investigating the role of oxidative stress in CBD and the potential of new therapeutic approaches to treat this lung disease. He also has an active research program examining the role of the natural antioxidant, glutathione, in protecting the lung against the damaging effects of environmental tobacco smoke. Another area of interest is the development of cancer treatments that increase the effectiveness of radiation and chemotherapy. Lastly, his laboratory is developing countermeasures against terrorist deployed chemical weapons that involve catalytic antioxidant metalloporphyrins.

Karin Pacheco, MD, is interested in identifying the genes and exposures that together increase the chance of developing allergy or asthma to laboratory animals. Anyone who works with animals is at risk, including animal handlers, research scientists and technicians, vet techs, veterinarians and others. This is a good model to study the general process of developing allergy or asthma as well as ways of preventing these diseases.

Cecile Rose, MD, is interested in researching lung diseases from inhalation exposures in the workplace and home. She is specifically interested in the following lung diseases:

  • Hypersensitivity pneumonitis from exposures to inhaled antigens including particulates from birds and agricultural dusts;

  • Dust diseases of the lung, particularly silicosis and coal worker's pneumoconiosis;

  • Bronchiolitis obliterans and other lung diseases from exposure to chemicals used in food flavorings.

She works closely with epidemiologists, industrial hygienists and laboratory-based scientists to investigate the causes, mechanisms, treatment and prevention of these diseases. She is also involved in similar research efforts in the granulomatous lung disease, sarcoidosis. 

Shu-Yi Liao, MD, MPH, ScD, is interested in developing advanced machine learning algorithms that integrate multiple omics data (e.g. genetics, genomics, epigenetics, metabolomics), environmental exposures, images, and clinical characteristics to personalize treatments or phenotyping pulmonary diseases such as sarcoidosis. His long-term research goal is to develop a comprehensive algorithm that can predict treatment responses and can be applied to clinical practice. During the COVID pandemic, he also worked on COVID-related clinical research, such as vaccine efficacy in patients with chronic lung diseases.

Learn more about the Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences.