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Michael O’Reilly Named Director of Lung Biology & Disease Program

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Michael O’Reilly, professor of Pediatrics—Neonatology, has been named the director of the Lung Biology and Disease Program, administered by the Department of Environmental Medicine. O’Reilly has a secondary appointment as professor of Environmental Medicine and is a member of the Environmental Health Sciences Center.

O’Reilly’s research focuses on how neonatal hyperoxia causes pulmonary and vascular diseases, heart failure, and other adverse health outcomes, and how the DNA damage responsive ataxia telangiectasia mutated gene controls lung epithelial regeneration. His research was the first to demonstrate that oxygen-induced DNA damage signaling stimulates expression of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21 that promotes survival by maintaining expression of anti-apoptotic proteins independent of its ability to inhibit proliferation.  He also found that neonatal hyperoxia enhances the pathogenesis of influenza A virus by depleting alveolar epithelial cells required for alveolar regeneration.  Funding from the National Institutes of Health, the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association, and the March of Dimes has supported O’Reilly’s research for more than 20 years.

O’Reilly has authored over 100 peer-reviewed research articles, reviews, and book chapters.  He has trained two junior faculty, three post-doctoral fellows, ten graduate students and has served on nearly 30 PhD thesis committees.  He has served on a number of NIH study sections and special emphasis panels.  From 2012-2014, he served on the Board of Directors for the Genesee Valley-Finger Lakes Chapter of the March of Dimes.

After completing two post-doctoral fellowships at the NIH, O’Reilly joined the faculty of URMC in 1995. He earned his PhD in developmental biology from the University of Cincinnati under the mentorship of Dr. Jeffrey Whitsett.  His post-doctoral training was completed with Drs. Michael Sporn and Anita Roberts at the National Cancer Institute and with Dr. Heiner Westphal at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Environmental Toxins Impair Immune System over Multiple Generations

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

New research shows that maternal exposure to a common and ubiquitous form of industrial pollution can harm the immune system of offspring and that this injury is passed along to subsequent generations, weakening the body’s defenses against infections such as the influenza virus. 

The study was led by Paige Lawrence, Ph.D., with the University of Rochester Medical Center’s (URMC) Department of Environmental Medicine and appears in the Cell Press journal iScience. The research was conducted in mice, whose immune system function is similar to humans. 

“The old adage ‘you are what you eat’ is a touchstone for many aspects of human health,” said Lawrence. “But in terms of the body’s ability to fights off infections, this study suggests that, to a certain extent, you may also be what your great-grandmother ate.”

While other studies have shown that environmental exposure to pollutants can have effects on the reproductive, respiratory, and nervous system function across multiple generations, the new research shows for the first time that the immune system is impacted as well. 

This multigenerational weakening of the immune system could help explain variations that are observed during seasonal and pandemic flu episodes. Annual flu vaccines provide some people more protection than others, and during pandemic flu outbreaks some people get severely ill, while others are able to fight off the infection.  While age, virus mutations, and other factors can explain some of this variation, they do not fully account for the diversity of responses to flu infection found in the general population.

“When you are infected or receive a flu vaccine, the immune system ramps up production of specific kinds of white blood cells in response,” said Lawrence. “The larger the response, the larger the army of white blood cells, enhancing the ability of the body to successfully fight off an infection. Having a smaller size army – which we see across multiple generations of mice in this study – means that you're at risk for not fighting the infection as effectively.”

In the study, researchers exposed pregnant mice to environmentally relevant levels of a chemical called dioxin, which, like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), is a common by-product of industrial production and waste incineration, and is also found in some consumer products. These chemicals find their way into the food system where they are eventually consumed by humans. Dioxins and PCBs bio-accumulate as they move up the food chain and are found in greater concentrations in animal-based food products. 

Read More: Environmental Toxins Impair Immune System over Multiple Generations

New York’s e-cigarette ban throws URMC research into question

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Irfan Rahman’s laboratory sits at the end of a long hallway on the third floor of the University of Rochester’s School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Inside, Rahman and a team of researchers take apart e-cigarettes. They analyze the liquid that the devices turn into an inhalable vapor in an effort to figure out exactly what it’s made of.

The lab’s work has taken on growing importance as the number of deaths and injuries attributed to e-cigarettes across the country continues to rise.

“We are the national leaders in this research,” Rahman said. “We are doing work here that can save lives. These are very, very grave health problems.”

But New York state’s action to ban flavored e-cigarettes last week threw their ability to do that research into question.

The state’s emergency regulations ban possession of flavored e-cigarette liquids, with no exemption for research.

URMC shares a $19 million federal grant with the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo that funds the institutions’ research into e-cigarettes. It’s an emerging field that investigators said is designed around questions of how flavored tobacco products affect the body and mind.

The realization that the rules did not carve out an exception for researchers led the CEOs of Roswell Park and URMC to send a joint letter to Howard Zucker, the commissioner of the state health department, urging him to allow their research to continue.

Read More: New York’s e-cigarette ban throws URMC research into question

URMC scientist leading nation with vaping research on effects of flavored e-liquids

Thursday, September 26, 2019

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is looking to expand the state's newly implemented ban on flavored e-cigarettes to include menthol.

On Thursday, the Democratic governor directed the state’s health commissioner to convene an emergency meeting as soon as possible to take steps to include menthol in the first-in-the-nation ban to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. The ban currently excludes tobacco and menthol flavors.

The announcement comes as one local researcher is leading the nation in studying the effects of flavored e-liquids.

Dr. Irfan Rahman with URMC has been researching e-cigarettes in his lab at the School of Medicine for the better part of a decade. The lab has allowed the scientist to take a closer look at vaping and its effects on the body. A few years ago, Dr. Rahman started looking at the makeup of the flavors.

“We know based on our research that the flavors, it doesn't matter what flavors they are or where they come from, those are chemicals,” Rahman said.

Rahman, a professor with URMC’s Department of Environmental Medicine, said the vaping chemicals are harmful to the lungs.

“They have chest tightness, breathlessness, vomiting, and they’re put on a ventilator, so they can get oxygen,” he said.

Dr. Rahman said the dozens of tobacco and menthol flavors are no different than the recently-banned vaping flavors.

“Flavors are not fruit juices; they are chemicals,” he said. “All these flavors are harmful compared to the air when we just take the oxygen or breathing the air.”

The lab's work has played a vital role in uncovering some of the health effects of vaping.

Since June, URMC has treated 16 patients suffering from lung damage related to vaping. That number is up from 12 earlier this month. THC was the common thread.

“Vaping is not safe at all,” said Dr. Rahman. “This will lead to hospitalization, even deaths.”

The CDC released an update Thursday, reporting at least 805 cases of vaping related lung injuries across 46 states. State Public Health officials said there are a dozen confirmed deaths.

Noah Barclay, 24, switched to using e-cigs a few years ago to help him quit smoking.

“Even before all of this came out, I knew it wasn’t good for me,” said Barclay, “I used it to quit smoking cigarettes. I don’t want to be addicted to nicotine forever, but it’s really hard to quit.”

Dr. Rahman believes more research needs to be done on the vaping flavors before the number of related illnesses increases even more.

His research is ongoing as new vaping flavors come on the market. Dr. Rahman tests e-liquids purchased at local vape shops and vendors as far away as Europe.

Read More: URMC scientist leading nation with vaping research on effects of flavored e-liquids

Katrina Korfmacher's Book Highlights URMC's Lead Poisoning Reduction Work

Monday, September 16, 2019

A new book details the insights learned from communities that came together to overcome long-standing and seemingly insurmountable environmental public health challenges. Using three case studies, including efforts to reduce childhood lead poisoning in the City of Rochester, the book demonstrates how low-income and marginalized urban communities built successful systems-change approaches to address environmental health disparities.

Bridging Silos: Collaborating for Environmental Health and Justice in Urban Communities by Katrina Smith Korfmacher, Ph.D., an associate professor in the University of Rochester Department of Environmental Medicine, highlights how local partnerships between community, governmental, and academic stakeholders can raise public awareness, mobilize scientific information, and carry out advocacy to impact policy change. Korfmacher also shows how holistic approaches to environmental health problems often extend beyond the traditional focus on pollution control to include land use planning, transportation, food systems, and housing.  

The book points to several trends that heighten the importance of local environmental health initiatives, including rising health care costs, growing understanding of the impacts of the environment on health, concerns about health inequities, barriers to effective action at the state and federal level, and a desire on the part of the health care community to identify and mitigate “upstream” threats to health.

Book Describes Transformative Power of Local Initiatives to Address Environmental Health Inequities

“Environmental factors significantly contribute to health inequities experienced by vulnerable populations in the U.S. and the greatest burden is often borne by lower-income communities of color,” said Korfmacher. “The purpose of this book is to demonstrate that broad-based collaborations between communities, governments, and researchers hold the potential to promote local solutions to pressing environmental health problems – and explore how to better support their growth.”

Read More: Katrina Korfmacher's Book Highlights URMC's Lead Poisoning Reduction Work

Drs. Rahman and Croft Featured on NBC News Story

Friday, September 6, 2019

Professor of Environmental Medicine, Dr. Irfan Rahman and Assistant Professor of Medicine, Dr. Daniel Croft were interviewed September 5th by NBC News about recent hospitalizations related to e-cigarettes. The story highlighted URMC e-cigarette research, along with pulmonary and critical care at SMH.

The story is expected to air during the second half of Nightly News with Lester Holt on September 5th, and September 6th on the Today Show. It will feature a patient in Utah who suffered serious lung damage after vaping THC, along with Irfan’s explanation of e-cigarette research during his lab tour with Anne, and Dan’s interview about Strong’s response to the recent outbreak of vaping-related illnesses.

 

Congratulations to Dr. Rahman and Dr. Croft!

Read More: Drs. Rahman and Croft Featured on NBC News Story

Health advisory urges caution with e-cigarettes

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

health advisory from the federal Centers for Disease Control has linked e-cigarettes to severe respiratory problems, though the agency said the exact cause is still unclear.

The CDC urged people to avoid using e-cigarette products bought from unlicensed sellers, citing health effects that researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center said reflect a poorly regulated industry.

Irfan Rahman, who directs research into e-cigarettes at URMC, said the severity of the cases outpaced what he expected.

“We were anticipating some responses, but not to this extent. This is very surprising to us, actually, what happened,” Rahman said.

Some cases of pneumonia treated locally have been so severe that patients needed to be placed on a ventilator or have a breathing tube inserted into their throat, said Rahman.

A team at URMC is looking into how e-cigarettes sold in the Rochester area differ from those sold in other markets. Researchers are seeking to discern how exactly e-cigarettes sold locally are affecting people in greater Rochester.

“We buy locally,” Rahman said. “I am well-known in the shops.” 

Rahman said his team has over 800 local e-cigarettes to analyze in the lab.

Read More: Health advisory urges caution with e-cigarettes

Paige Lawrence Appointed to Named Professorship

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Paige Lawrence

Professor B. Paige Lawrence

B. Paige Lawrence, chair of the Department of Environmental Medicine, has been appointed as the Wright Family Research Professor. Lawrence retains her joint appointments as professor of environmental medicine and of microbiology and immunology. She is also the director of the Environmental Health Science Center.

Lawrence’s research addresses ways to improve human health, and how our environment influences our health. Much of her work focuses on the impact of pollutants on the ability to fight infections, such as influenza viruses. She also investigates how signals from the environment affect proper development in early life, and how these developmental changes adversely impact health later in life.

In addition to authoring chapters in six books, Lawrence has published nearly 80 articles in scientific journals including The Journal of Immunology, Environmental Health Perspectives, and Toxicological Sciences, and several papers from her lab have received awards. She is a member of the Society of Toxicology, American Association of Immunologists, and American Association for the Advancement of Scientists, and currently serves on the editorial boards for several journals. In 2017, she was elected as a fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and earlier this year she became a fellow of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences. She provides peer review service to the National Institutes of Health, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, and other organizations and agencies, and has received several different mentoring awards.

Lawrence was recruited to Rochester from a faculty position on the west coast in 2006. She earned her PhD in biochemistry from Cornell University and received specialized training in immunology and toxicology during a postdoctoral fellowship at Oregon State University. She received a BA in biology and chemistry from Skidmore College.

Read More: Paige Lawrence Appointed to Named Professorship

Dr. Rahman Interviewed on LA Talk Radio show, Uncommon Conversations

Monday, July 1, 2019

On June 27, 2019, Dr. Irfan Rahman was interviewed on the LA Talk Radio show, Uncommon Conversations with Maryam Zar and John Harlow. Dr. Rahman spoke on current trends and emergence of vaping, toxicity, and human health effects with regulation. To listen to Dr. Rahman's interview visit the episode's podcast page.

Read More: Dr. Rahman Interviewed on LA Talk Radio show, Uncommon Conversations

EHSC Faculty Attend 2019 Center Directors Meeting in Iowa City

Friday, June 21, 2019

EHSC photo

The 2019 EHSC Center Directors Meeting was hosted by the University of Iowa in Iowa City on June 20, 21, 2019. University of Rochester’s Environmental Health Sciences Center faculty, Irfan Rahman, PhD,  CEC Director Katrina Korfmacher, PhD,  IHSFC Co-Director Steve Georas, MD,  Center Director Paige Lawrence, PhD, and new Center member Daniel Croft, MD, MPH, as well as Center Administrator Pat Noonan Sullivan attended the meeting.

Each faculty member played a role in the meeting, contributing expertise of their work. Rahman spoke on Human health studies of E-cigarette use at the meeting.  Discussants included Dana Haine, MS from UNC and Judith Zelikoff, PhD, from NYU, moderated by Alejandro Comellas, MD. Katrina Korfmacher facilitated sessions on policy engagement by CECs and report back of research results to participants and communities. At a break out session on translational research in environmental health sciences, Georas shared the centers experience with the highly successful IHSFC Translational Mini-Pilot Program. Croft presented a poster on his research showing an association between air pollution exposure and hospital admissions for respiratory viral infections.

The 2020 EHSC Center Directors Meeting will be hosted by Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan July 22nd- 24th, 2020.

Rahman

posters

Rahman is a Leader in the Field of Environmental and Tobacco-related Lung Diseases

Monday, May 6, 2019

Irfan Rahman Designated an American Thoracic Society Fellow

The American Thoracic Society (ATS) designated Irfan Rahman, Ph.D., an ATS Fellow for his research on chronic lung inflammatory diseases. ATS awarded Rahman this distinction to recognize his accomplishments, dedication, and contributions to ATS and to the field of pulmonary medicine. Rahman is an endowed Dean’s professor of environmental medicine, pulmonary medicine, and public health sciences at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and a member of the URMC Environmental Health Sciences Center (EHSC).

Since joining the URMC in 2003, Rahman has gained international recognition for his research on the prevention and treatment of smoking-induced lung diseases and has published more than 250 papers. Thomson Reuters, a news and information publishing company, recognized him as one of the most highly cited researchers of 2014, 2015, and 2016. He has been a leader in elucidating mechanisms of environmental and tobacco-related pulmonary diseases.

Rahman has also been elected to serve on boards of several esteemed academic journals including Nature Scientific Report, the Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Experimental Lung Research, Journal of Inflammation, and Frontiers in Pharmacology, where he is an associate editor. With ATS, he has served as a program committee member and as chair for numerous symposia sessions on lung disease research. Through community education efforts, Rahman has also educated people about the dangers of smoking and other exposures in India, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Rahman credits the EHSC with driving the development of his research programs in circadian biology, chromatin remodeling, mitochondrial dysfunction, cellular senescence, inflammation, and oxidants related to the impacts of environmental agents, flavoring chemicals in e-cigarettes, and tobacco products on lung pathology. He noted that the EHSC provided him critical support to generate preliminary data that helped him secure additional funding for his research.

One area of Rahman’s research focuses on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), considered the third major cause of death worldwide. Among cigarette smokers and people who live in polluted areas, COPD is a major factor in declining lung function, and there are no effective treatments to halt this decline. Rahman’s team is identifying specific cellular and molecular pathways that contribute to COPD. He hopes to uncover pathways that may be targeted for treatments and interventions to slow the disease process.

Recently, Rahman has discovered several exciting potential therapies that may prevent tobacco-related lung complications from progressing. For example, in an experimental COPD model in mice, Rahman’s team exposed mice to environmental tobacco smoke and then measured DNA damage and cellular senescence, which is when cells cease to divide due to aging. They compared normal mice to genetically altered mice lacking the gene for histone deacetylase 2 (HDAC2), an enzyme that affects DNA structure and gene expression. They found that mice lacking HDAC2 showed greater DNA damage-induced inflammatory responses and lung function declines after exposure to cigarette smoke. In addition, mice lacking HDAC2 had increased markers of cellular senescence. Based on these data, Rahman suggests that compounds that activate HDAC2 might be useful for treatment of smoking-related lung diseases like COPD.

Over the years Rahman has successfully mentored several Ph.D. students and postdoctoral and clinical fellows. He considers the accomplishments of his trainees one of the most important testaments of his scientific and academic accomplishments in pulmonary research.

Rahman’s research is supported by the following grants from NIH: R21ES028006 (NIEHS), R01HL135613 (NHLBI), R01HL137738 (NHLBI), R01DA042470 (NIDA), and U54CA228110 (NCI).

Read More: Rahman is a Leader in the Field of Environmental and Tobacco-related Lung Diseases

Rahman Named One of the Founding Chairs of the Lung Aging Research Group of ATS

Friday, May 3, 2019

Congratulations to Dr. Irfan Rahman, who has been named one of the Founding Chairs of the Lung Aging Research Group of the American Thoracic Society. 

Chairs

Irfan Rahman, PhD, ATSF

GR Scott Budinger, MD

Louise Hecker, Ph.D

Our main goal is to increase our awareness and disseminate knowledge of the pathophysiological mechanisms of aging in the lungs with interests in terms of basic biology of aging in debilitating lung diseases including critical care and geriatric aging. We aim to thus contribute to the larger mission of the current Interesting Group of Aging.

This group will bring together lung researchers (including early career members, MDs, MD-PhDs, and PhDs) who are interested in understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms of aging and age-related lung diseases, and forms a forum for discussion on hallmarks of lung aging and associated diseases.

Objectives:

  • To increase the knowledge of the physiological and accelerated mechanisms of aging in the lungs in collaboration with clinical and critical care geriatric disciplines
  • To enhance overall visibility and advance the knowledge of aging of the lung and mechanisms of age-related lung diseases
  • To target age-associated dysfunction: Advancing knowledge of age-associated therapeutic targets that may promote enhanced repair
  • To highlight the impact on global health burden of age-associated lung diseases e.g. environmental aspect of aging (biomass, wildfire, ashes, diesel exhausts) in all population including geriatric.
  • Age-related diseases development and therapeutic targeting age
  • Dissemination of knowledge by including NIA and NHLBI researchers including critical care research programs
Read More: Rahman Named One of the Founding Chairs of the Lung Aging Research Group of ATS

NYS Lawmakers vote to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21 - Rahman Lab interviewed

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Lawmakers in the New York state Assembly have voted to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21.

The legislation, which passed the Democrat-led chamber on Wednesday, prohibits the sale of tobacco, as well as electronic cigarettes, to anyone under 21.

"I always thought that we were going to be the generation to stop smoking and then all of these new products came out and we are at step one," said Monica Jackson, a research assistant at the University of Rochester.

She said she doesn't smoke, but some of her friends do.

"I think just educating people and putting it in their heads this is not good for us," she added.

Jackson is part of a team of researchers at the university, including Dr. Irfan Rahman. Dr. Rahman has been helping conduct a study on the impacts of smoking and vaping for more than 10 years. Some of his work has also been published.

"This is really bad for high schoolers and middle schoolers when their lungs are developing, and if they vape it's interfering with lung development," he explained.

When asked about raising the age to buy tobacco and e-cigarettes, Dr. Rahman said it won't do much.

"The problem will never be solved by increasing the age. Overall it will not address the issue of toxicity and diseases," he said.

Throughout the years, Dr. Rahman says he's studied the evolution of different products to consume tobacco and nicotine.

When it comes to research on Juul products, he said, "we found metals such as copper, we published a paper, we found lung injuries, inflammation and stress in the lungs."

The elevated smoking age is already the law in seven states, and several cities around the country, including New York City.

Some people think passing such a law is going too far.

"The idea for them to choose when they finish high school when they become adults it's more applicable, so i think 19 would be more of an applicable age," said James McGuinness a Rochester resident.

Brandon Barr is the manager of Exscape Smoke Shop and Vapor Lounge. He said the age of 21 at least is giving you more life experience, and more of a chance to educate yourself about the thing you want to do.

He said if the law is passed, it likely won't impact his business directly.

"I think convenience stores and things like that probably will because they have more of a high customer volume," he added.

Barr said the topic of education should be at the center of this debate. He said he works to educate all of his customers about what they are buying.

"Some of these very high level nicotine juices if you were to put them in certain kinds of vapes it can put so much nicotine into you - you could get sick," he said.

The measure is backed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, and has broad support in the Democrat-controlled state Senate, where it has yet to be scheduled for a vote.

Cuomo released a statement after the Assembly passed the bill.

"The lifelong health effects and human misery caused by tobacco use cannot be understated and New York needs to do everything in its power to keep tobacco products out of the hands of our young people. That's why I made raising the age of tobacco sales to 21 one of the first proposals of my Justice Agenda and I applaud the Assembly and particularly Assembly Member Rosenthal for taking action on this very important issue today. I urge the Senate to follow suit and help make this a stronger and healthier New York for all."

Julie Hart of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network called the measure "common sense" and said it will reduce the number of young people who become addicted.

Read More: NYS Lawmakers vote to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21 - Rahman Lab interviewed

URMC Study reveals uptake of Vaping flavors among teenagers - Dr. Rahman Interviewed by Channel 8

Friday, March 1, 2019

Vaping flavors may be appealing for the eye and may taste better than smoking cigarettes. But a new study out of the University of Rochester found that vaping is starting to grow in popularity among teenagers.

According to Dr. Rahman, the study also shows an alarming uptake of vaping among youth which could lead to serious health problems later in life. 

The study showed just last year vaping among 6th to 8th graders increased 48 percent and 9th to 12th graders in increased to 78 percent. Doctors said the lungs are still developing during those school years 

"Be defective development, and after the development is complete, then it could lead to complications,” said Dr. Rahman. 

Nowadays e-cigarettes are shaped like a USB flash drive and are easy to conceal. Dr. Rahman says the liquids come in flavors that appeal to youth and can be easily bought online.

“Have to be alerted that these are toxic chemicals in here,” said Rahman. “Smoking or vaping should completely be abolished.” 
  
There is currently a “flavor ban” legislation that could eliminate vaping flavors. For those who support flavors say thousands will return to combustible cigarettes, people would lose jobs and its mainly for adults. 

"I switched from combustible cigarettes to flavors. they tasted better more appetizing to use and more enjoyable.  Ultimately the studies are showing that no more than 5 percent of long term health effects that's what got me to switch from combustible cigarettes personally,” said Ken Gregory, owner of Bad Drip Labs. 

According to Gregory, his business isn’t about getting teens to use their products.  He added the industry is made for adults and teens shouldn’t be vaping. 

Read More: URMC Study reveals uptake of Vaping flavors among teenagers - Dr. Rahman Interviewed by Channel 8

New Study Links Electronic Cigarettes and Wheezing in Adults

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Electronic cigarette use (“vaping”) is associated with wheezing in adults, according to a new study published in the journal Tobacco Control. People who vaped were nearly twice as likely to experience wheezing compared to people who didn’t regularly use tobacco products. Wheezing, which is caused by narrowed or abnormal airways, is often a precursor to other serious health conditions such as emphysema, gastro-esophageal reflux disease, heart failure, lung cancer and sleep apnea.

“The take-home message is that electronic cigarettes are not safe when it comes to lung health,” says Ossip, a tobacco research expert and professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC). “The changes we’re seeing with vaping, both in laboratory experiments and studies of people who vape, are consistent with early signs of lung damage, which is very worrisome.”

Researchers from URMC analyzed data from more than 28,000 adults in the U.S. who took part in the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study. After adjusting for age, gender, race/ethnicity, body mass index, secondhand smoke exposure and other factors, adult vapers were 1.7 times more likely to experience wheezing and related respiratory symptoms (such as difficulty breathing) compared to non-users.

Lead study author Dongmei Li, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Clinical and Translational Research at URMC, acknowledges that there are limitations to the study. PATH study data are self-reported, so it’s possible that information collected from participants is subject to recall bias. The analysis cannot prove that vaping causes wheezing; it only identifies an association between the two. Finally, PATH data does not include information on some important factors that could influence the results, such as participants’ diet and physical activity levels.

Despite these limitations, senior study author Irfan Rahman, Ph.D., professor of Environmental Medicine at URMC, says the research clearly identifies another health repercussion from vaping. This is particularly concerning given new data released from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that shows a dramatic uptick in youth vaping. According to the report, in 2018 vaping increased by 78 percent among ninth to 12th graders and 48 percent in sixth to eighth graders.

Read More: New Study Links Electronic Cigarettes and Wheezing in Adults

Falsey, Mariani Secure $3.8 M NIH Grant to Reduce Antibiotic Overuse

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Ann R. Falsey, M.D., professor of Infectious Diseases, and Thomas J. Mariani, Ph.D., professor of Pediatrics, received a 5-year, $3.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to search for a better way to distinguish bacterial and viral respiratory infections. The goal of the study is to define predictive genes – using gene expression profiling of blood – that can be developed into a simple point of care diagnostic that can be used by clinicians to discriminate bacterial and non-bacterial illness. Such a test would allow physicians to optimally manage patients with acute respiratory infections, which are a leading cause of antibiotic overuse and are linked to the rise of antibiotic resistant organisms.

The grant is the result of research done as part of the NIH-funded Respiratory Pathogens Research Center. Falsey and Mariani are the co-principal investigators, and Edward Walsh, M.D., Angela Branche, M.D. and Derick Peterson, Ph.D. are co-investigators.

Public health joins dance to put arts into action

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Valeriia Sherina

Professor Katrina Smith Korfmacher, front right, with students in her Environmental Health and Justice course, take a short hike following a tour of the Hemlock Water Filtration Plant. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

Last fall, students from a public health course and a dance class got together for a day of combined learning.

In effort to understand how to initiate change in a community, students in Arts and Activism, and their counterparts in Environmental Health and Justice in the Rochester Community, met up in the Linda E. Sloan Studio of Todd Union to create some new moves.

The Arts and Activism students were using dance to explore the relationship between social activism and artistic practice. Earlier in the semester, the students—in collaboration with a local organization—used visual art, film, and performance to create a two-night interactive installation that would show the importance of voting during the 2018 mid-term elections. Now, they would study a new chapter that would explore the theater practice known as “Theater of the Oppressed” as a vehicle for community organization, expression, and action.

“We talk about communication and how to communicate ideas using theater practice,” says Rose Pasquarello Beauchamp, instructor for Arts and Activism and senior lecturer in the Program of Dance and Movement.

“I thought my students would gain a broader perspective on communication from this experience,” says Katrina Smith Korfmacher, director of the Community Engagement Core for the Environmental Health Sciences Center. In her Environmental Health and Justice class, students had been working over the semester with several local groups to collect and analyze data for projects such as the protection of the City of Rochester’s drinking water supply as well as the condition of the bike trails for the Genesee Riverway Trail.

Read More: Public health joins dance to put arts into action