The vision of the NIEHS is to use environmental health sciences to understand human disease and improve human health. Below are some research highlights from NIEHS scientists since its founding in 1966.
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NIEHS's New Strategic Plan: 2012-2017
August 1, 2012 – NIEHS director introduces the 2012-2017 strategic plan for NIEHS, "Advancing Science Improving Health: A Plan for Environmental Health Research." NIEHS, with the help of its stakeholders, lays out a plan that has descriptive strategic themes and 11 goals that are identified as priority areas for the field. As the NIEHS moves forward, our overall goal is to make the institute, including the National Toxicology Program (NTP), the foremost trusted source of environmental health knowledge, leading the field in innovation and the application of research to solve health problems.
New substances added to HHS Report on Carcinogens
On June 10, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services added eight substances to its Report on Carcinogens, a science-based document that identifies chemicals and biological agents that may put people at increased risk for cancer.
Federal agencies collaborate in Tox21 to reduce animal testing
Testing the safety of chemicals is becoming more efficient and less reliant on animals thanks to a federal collaboration known as Tox 21. Tox 21 brings together scientists from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), NIEHS, the National Toxicology Program (NTP), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and most recently the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to test the safety of chemicals using state-of-the-art robotic technology that will reduce the reliance on animal testing.
Liver enzyme decreases drug metabolism
Genetic tests are available for the two principal alleles of CYP2C9. Researchers found a null allele of CYP2C9 that decreases metabolism of both warfarin and phenytoin and a second deleterious allele reported in African-Americans on warfarin. Collaborative clinical studies have shown that metabolism of tolbutamide, phenytoin, and warfarin are altered in people with genetic polymorphisms of CYP2C9, affecting dosage requirements and sometimes causing dangerous or fatal bleeding episodes in patients on warfarin as an anticoagulant.
NIEHS Sister Study on breast cancer, environment and genes fully enrolled and in follow-up phase
The NIEHS Sister Study is a prospective cohort study of how the environment and genes together affect the chance that a woman will get breast cancer and other diseases. The study includes 50,884 women ages 35-74 recruited from every state and Puerto Rico who have never had breast cancer themselves, but who have a sister diagnosed with the disease. The study, which is the largest of its kind, has already reported some preliminary findings about how factors such as weight and perceived stress may influence health and how early-life exposures may influence development of uterine fibroids and age at menopause. The study started in 2004, enrollment was completed in 2009, and women will be followed prospectively for 10 or more years. The study has led to spin-off projects such as the Two Sister Study, a family-based study of genes and environment funded by a grant from Komen for the Cure.