Environmental Determinants of Pulmonary Disease: A new approach to an old problem

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My long-term career goal is to research the environmental determinants of pulmonary diseases (e.g. asthma, reactive airways dysfunction syndrome, fibrotic lung disease, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, etc.) within South Carolina communities disproportionately affected by them. To accomplish this goal, my research strategy is to leverage my current joint position to harness the capabilities for collaborative and multidisciplinary community-based participatory research (CBPR) within South Carolina communities with disparities in pulmonary health outcomes. I have three short-term objectives: 1. to better identify additional communities with disparities in pulmonary disease 2. to establish better mechanisms for building partnerships and coalitions within South Carolina communities with disparities in pulmonary disease 3. to integrate my research strategy into an existing community with disparities in pulmonary health as an exemplary community (Research Project). Several mentors have agreed to assist me with the implementation of my strategy and towards completion of my objectives, including strong established researchers with a history of successful proteges. Objectives 1 &2 are addressed in my career development plan, and will be implemented primarily within the health department with the goal of linking those activities to CBPR with the partnership of academia. To accomplish my research project, I have compiled a registry cohort of over 950 victims acutely exposed to chlorine gas during a community environmental disaster. The goal of the research project is to complete the preliminary research necessary to procure R01 funding for a longitudinal cohort study. We will test the following hypotheses regarding acute exposure to chlorine gas: (1) children and adults have reduced lung function and increased airway reactivity and inflammation with increasing exposure/acute lung injury (2) patients treated with corticosteroids are less likely to have more severe long-term lung morbidity (3) cigarette smoking, atopy, history of occupational exposures to lung irritants, and obesity are risk factors for poor long-term lung prognosis. This proposed program is of great public health significance, since it addresses CDC goals (Healthy People in Healthy Places;People Prepared for Emerging Health Threats) and Starter Objectives (Healthy Communities: 36;Emerging Health Threats;Chem/Rad. Objective: Increase public and professional preparedness for chemical/radiological disasters).

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