2014 News

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  • December 29, 2014

    Researchers Find Protein That Could Control Weight Loss and Lead To Radical New Treatments For Obesity

    Researchers have uncovered a protein they say controls how the body produces fat cells.

    Called Thy1 it has a fundamental role in controlling whether a primitive cell decides to become a fat cell, the Daily Mail reports. Experts say it could be harnessed in obesity treatments.

    We believe that weight gain is not necessarily just a result of eating more and exercising less, said lead author Richard Phipps of the University of Rochester. The Rochester team discovered that a protein, Thy1, has a fundamental role in controlling whether a primitive cell decides to become a fat cell, making Thy1 a possible therapeutic target, according to a study published online this month by the FASEB Journal.

  • December 11, 2014

    Decoding Fat Cells: Discovery May Explain Why We Gain Weight

    University of Rochester researchers believe they're on track to solve the mystery of weight gain – and it has nothing to do with indulging in holiday eggnog.

    hey discovered that a protein, Thy1, has a fundamental role in controlling whether a primitive cell decides to become a fat cell, making Thy1 a possible therapeutic target, according to a study published online this month by the FASEB Journal.

    The research brings a new, biological angle to a problem that's often viewed as behavioral, said lead author Richard P. Phipps, Ph.D. In fact, some diet pills consist of antidepressants or anti-addiction medications, and do not address what's happening at the molecular level to promote fat cell accumulation.

  • October 30, 2014

    URMC Researchers Receive $6.1M to Develop LungMAP

    researchers at University of Rochester Medical Center have launched a five-year effort to develop such a map. The project, called the Human Lung Molecular Atlas Program, or LungMAP, includes researchers from several other institutions and is supported by more than $20 million from the National Institutes of Health, $6.1 million of which was awarded to URMC.

    With a detailed map of human lung development, health care providers will be able to more readily identify children who may be at risk for lung problems. For example, physicians know that infants who are born prematurely are more likely to develop emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in adulthood or later in life.

    But we don't always know which ones, or how severe their complications will be, said Gloria Pryhuber, M.D., professor of Pediatrics and Environmental Medicine and the study's lead researcher at URMC. So that's what this is really all about — we need to know more about how the lung is formed and heals normally, in order to encourage pre-term infants to develop more normally, and to help adult lungs to heal from diseases like pneumonia and emphysema.

  • September 16, 2014

    Communities Considering Fracking Face Questions

    A new report examines potential health-related issues facing communities in areas of the country suitable for natural gas extraction. The hope is that the study, which was coauthored by Katrina Korfmacher, director of the University's Environmental Health Sciences Center's Community Outreach and Engagement Core, will shape future research around communities' health questions and inform their decision-making.

  • August 11, 2014

    Environmental Health Sciences Center Summer 2014 Newsletter Now Available

    The University of Rochester Environmental Health Sciences Center Summer 2014 newsletter is now available.

    Topics highlighted in this newsletter include:

    Recent findings linking air pollution to Autism and Schizophrenia

    Environmental Health Sciences Center Updates

    • Increasing Awareness of Chemicals in Personal Care Products
    • Research and Local Activism Address the Health Effects of Tobacco Smoke
    • March of Dimes Symposium: Early-life Exposures
    • Environmental Epigenomics Workshop
    • Enhancing Perinatal Environmental Health Education

    Recognitions and Awards

    New Center faculty and Toxicology graduate students

    Please feel free to read the entire EHSC Newsletter.

  • August 8, 2014

    Researchers Awarded $2.1M to Study E-Cigarettes

    Thomas J. Mariani, Ph.D. and other researchers at the Medical Center have commenced a study that will be used to help shape the Food and Drug Administration's regulations on e-cigarettes, hookahs, and miniature cigars in the coming years. Read More...

  • June 6, 2014

    New Evidence Links Air Pollution to Autism, Schizophrenia

    New research from the University of Rochester Medical Center describes how exposure to air pollution early in life produces harmful changes in the brains of mice, including an enlargement of part of the brain that is seen in humans who have autism and schizophrenia.

    The new findings are consistent with several recent studies that have shown a link between air pollution and autism in children. Most notably, a 2013 study in JAMA Psychiatry reported that children who lived in areas with high levels of traffic-related air pollution during their first year of life were three times as likely to develop autism.

    Our findings add to the growing body of evidence that air pollution may play a role in autism, as well as in other neurodevelopmental disorders, said Deborah Cory-Slechta, Ph.D., professor of Environmental Medicine at the University of Rochester and lead author of the study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

  • June 4, 2014

    Brian Palmer Wins Two Awards at Toxicology Retreat

    Brian Palmer

    Congratulations to Brian Palmer, a Toxicology graduate student in Lisa DeLouise's lab on winning two awards at the Annual Toxicology Retreat. Brian won the department 'Question" Award given to the student who asks the most insightful questions throughout the year at department seminars and also won the McGregor Award for best poster presentation by a first year graduate student.

  • May 29, 2014

    Toxicology PhD Program Holds Annual Retreat

    Louis Guillette Jr., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Medical University of South Carolina, is the keynote speaker at the Department of Environmental Medicine Toxicology PhD Program annual retreat today. Guillette's talk, "Health or Disease: Environmental Contaminants, Epigenetics and the Developing Embryo" starts at 11 a.m. in the Class of '62 Auditorium (G-9425), Medical Center. Platform presentations will follow from 1:30 to 3 p.m. in the Ryan Case Method Room (1-9576) and a poster session will be held from 3 to 4:30 in Flaum Atrium.

  • April 23, 2014

    Workshop on Environmental Epigenomics

    On April 24th the department of Environmental Medicine, in conjunction with the NIEHS Environmental Health Sciences Center held a Workshop on Environmental Epigenomics in the URMC. Among the numerous collegues and attendees were Dr. Trevor Archer (NIEHS), Dr. Cheryl Walker (Texas A&M), Dr. Dana Dolinoy (University of Michigan), and Dr. Moshe Szyf (McGill University).  The event was organized in part by Dr. Irfan Rahman

    See here for photos from the event.

  • February 18, 2014

    Air Pollution Exposure May Increase Risk of Autism, Schizophrenia

    Air pollution exposure has long been suspected to increase the risk of both heart and lung diseases, but another important organ may also be at risk of injury from this contaminated air: the brain.

    Researchers at the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) annual meeting in Chicago recently detailed the impact that constant exposure to air pollution may have on the developing brain. According to the panel, a series of mouse models have suggested that constant inhalation of air pollution may lead to enlargement of the brain's ventricles – a hallmark of neurodevelopmental disorders such as schizophrenia and autism.

    According to the organizer of the panel, Dr. Deborah Cory-Slechta, air pollution is a cocktail of various metals and gases, often consisting of many different sized particles. The larger particles typically do not pose a risk to the body, as they are often coughed up and disposed, but the very small particles are the ones that health experts say pose the biggest health threat.

    The component people worry about the most are the smallest particles – the ultrafine particles, Cory-Slechta, professor in the department of environmental medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, told FoxNews.com. And the reason is because those go all the way down into the bottom of the lung. Once they get to the bottom of the lung, they can be absorbed into the blood stream.

  • February 14, 2014

    Rahman Group's Study Featured on the February 2014 Cover of the Journal of Proteome Research

    Exposure to cigarette smoke is known to cause changes in the chromatin -- the complex of DNA and proteins that make up a cell's nucleus. This can lead to chronic lung disease. UR researchers Irfan Rahman, Professor of Environmental Medicine and Pulmonary Diseases, and Alan Friedman, Assistant Professor of Environmental Medicine, are shedding light on the role of histones in this process. Histones are key proteins that pass along genetic information from parents to children, play a role in gene expression, and act as spools for DNA to wind around.

    Their study, featured on the cover of the Journal of Proteome Research (February 2014), reports that cigarette smoke induces specific post translational modifications in histones H3 and H4, which could serve as biomarkers to help identify and predict chronic lung diseases (COPD and lung cancer) induced by cigarette smoke. Their data may also help in our understanding of the epigenetic changes that occur during the development of these diseases.

  • January 6, 2014

    Dr. Irfan Rahman's Article About the "Grandmother" Clock Featured on Cover of FASEB Journal

    The Clockmaker, c. 1735, color engraving, Engelbrecht, Martin (1684–1756). Engelbrecht, a noted print-seller and engraver, was best known for his miniature theater dioramas. Eight scenery-like cards are inserted into a peep-box, aligned one behind the other, creating a three-dimensional view. These popular home-theaters have been cited by photographers and cinematographers for their dramatic optical effects. Some even suggest that they are forerunners of cable television. Our grandmother clock, an 18th-century Rococo extravaganza of ormolu scrolls and miniature dragons, stands stage center against a backdrop of cedar trees. Her body consists of two timepieces: one resting on her bosomy mantel and the other, a longcase model resting on curlicued paws. In her right hand, she dangles a pendulum—perhaps a reference to Galileo's discovery. The theatrical image may also be a tribute to Engelbrecht's hometown of Augsburg, the chief supplier of highly ornamental clocks to all of Europe. In this issue, we learn how tobacco smoke disrupts the circadian rhythm of clock gene expression, increasing lung inflammation to produce emphysema in mice via sirtuin 1 (SIRT1)-dependent acetylation of the core clock gene, brain and muscle aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator-like 1 (BMAL1). Image courtesy of Bibliothèque des Arts décoratifs, Paris, France/Archives Charmet/Bridgeman Art Library; Ann Weissmann, fine arts editor.

    Environmental Medicine professor, Irfan Rahman's current article has been featured on the cover of the Journal of The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. The article, entitled Circadian clock function is disrupted by environmental tobacco/cigarette smoke, leading to lung inflammation and injury via a SIRT1-BMAL1 pathway, deals with patients with obstructive lung diseases display abnormal circadian rhythms in lung function. The Rahman lab determined the mechanism whereby environmental tobacco/cigarette smoke (CS) modulates expression of the core clock gene BMAL1, through Sirtuin1 (SIRT1) deacetylase during lung inflammatory and injurious responses.

  • January 3, 2014

    Want To Sleep Peacefully? Quit Smoking, Study

    A University of Rochester study has found that smokers can have a good night's sleep just by giving up the habit. Researchers said that smoking leads to sleep deprivation, depression and anxiety, cognitive decline and mood disorders. Lack of sleep can result in lethargy, crankiness and bad temper.

    This study has found a common pathway whereby cigarette smoke impacts both pulmonary and neurophysiological function, Dr. Irfan Rahman from the University of Rochester Medical Centre in New York said in a press release. We envisage that our findings will be the basis for future developments in the treatment of those patients who are suffering with tobacco smoke-mediated injuries and diseases.

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