Ilona Jaspers, PhD, division head of the Institute for Environmental Health Solutions at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, presented on e-cigarettes and vaping at a recent meeting of the Genetics and Environmental Mutagenesis Society of North Carolina. Specifically, she discussed her work on experimental models to study potential hazards of vaping and e-cigarettes, and she covered the rapid spread of vaping — especially among adolescents — as well as possible mechanisms behind the risks associated with vaping.

Jaspers’ lab research has linked e-cigarettes to the diseases that are found among traditional smokers. She and her team are now developing a model to track the health effects from commonly used e-cigarette chemical flavorings. While the United States Food and Drug Administration recognizes the chemical flavorings as safe for oral consumption, Jaspers’ work demonstrates that inhalation exposure through e-cigarettes and vaping lead to unique health risks.

Ilona Jaspers has been a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for more than 15 years. She specializes in the effects of ambient air pollutants on respiratory immune dysfunction.

Jaspers has established several human in vitro and clinical in vivo models to determine the adverse health effects induced by pollutant exposures. As the deputy director of the Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology, she collaborates extensively with investigators from UNC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to conduct translational studies related to air pollution health effects.

Jaspers also is a professor of environmental sciences and engineering, a professor of pediatrics, microbiology and immunology, and the director of the UNC Curriculum in Toxicology, in which role she oversees the training and mentoring of graduate and doctoral students as well as postdoctoral fellows.