June 22, 2018

Two faculty members at the Gillings School of Global Public Health are among those who recently were awarded 2018-2019 Pilot Projects Program grants by the UNC Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility (CEHS).

Dr. Miroslav Styblo

Dr. Di Wu

Dr. Di Wu

The awardees are Miroslav Styblo, PhD, professor of nutrition and adjunct associate professor of environmental sciences and engineering, and Di Wu, PhD, assistant professor of biostatistics at the Gillings School and of periodontology in the School of Dentistry.

The Pilot Projects Program stimulates innovative and collaborative research by providing short-term funding to collect preliminary data or demonstrate the feasibility of a particular hypothesis.

CEHS has particular interest in funding research that fits with its theme, “translating interdisciplinary research on environmental health threats in improve public health in North Carolina. Translational research areas of focus include environmental cancer, cardiopulmonary disease and developmental disease.

Styblo’s project, “Susceptibility to arsenic-induced diabetes: The role of As3mt polymorphisms and the microbiome,” explores the role of exposure to inorganic arsenic (iAs), a common drinking water and food contaminant, and Type 2 diabetes (T2D). The metabolism of iAs has been shown to play a critical role in the susceptibility to T2D in populations exposed to iAs. However, factors that influence iAs metabolism, and thus affect the disease outcomes, are poorly understood.

Wu’s research, “Defining novel Chk2 functions in suppression of UV-induced skin carcinogenesis,” examines the role of Chk2, the mouse equivalent of the human Checkpoint Kinase 2 (CHEK2), a tumor suppressor gene, as a novel suppressor of ultraviolet (UV) radiation-induced skin carcinogenesis in vivo. The pilot study hypothesizes that Chk2 has a novel role in maintaining genome stability in UV-irradiated skin cells.

“We are delighted to be able to support the work of these two Gillings School researchers,” said Melissa Troester, PhD, professor of epidemiology at the Gillings School, co-leader of the cancer epidemiology program at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and director of the UNC Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility. “It is the intention of the Center to grow pilot projects into significant environmental exposure discoveries – improving public health and health outcomes.”

CEHS Pilot grants range from $25,000 – $50,000 for a one-year period.


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