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Your Environment. Your Health.

Research Highlights

The vision of 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.

Click on the headers below (Date and Title) to sort by year or title. Click on the tags below each highlight to filter by tag, or use the search box to enter a search term.

1979

Cognitive, behavioral development delayed in children exposed to lead

School boy

Children's health researchers demonstrated that exposure to very low levels of lead during early childhood can lead to significant delays in cognitive and behavioral development.

Full Highlight: Cognitive, behavioral development delayed in children exposed to lead

Tags: children's health, lead

1980

NTP issues 1st Report on Carcinogens

national toxicoligy program mast head

The National Toxicology Program released the 1st Report on Carcinogens, which listed 26 chemicals and industrial processes with potentially harmful effects on human health. The Report on Carcinogens is an informational scientific and public health document that identifies and discusses agents that may pose a hazard to human health by virtue of their carcinogenicity. It lists these agents in two categories - "known to be human carcinogens" and "reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens." Some examples of substances identified as known to be carcinogenic include benzene; asbestos; dioxin, such as 2,3,7,8- Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin; environmental tobacco smoke; and tobacco smoking. The NTP is currently reviewing additional nominations for possible listing in or removal from the 12th Report on Carcinogens. The NTP has identified additional nominations that it may consider for review as either a new listing in or changing the current listing in the 12th RoC.

Full Highlight: NTP issues 1st Report on Carcinogens

Tags: children's health, lead

1994

Researchers identify first breast, ovarian cancer gene: BRCA1

breast cancer ribbon

NIEHS and collaborators at the University of Utah isolated a tumor-suppressor gene known to play a critical role in the development of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. BRCA1 was the first breast cancer gene to be identified.

Full Highlight: Researchers identify first breast, ovarian cancer gene: BRCA1

Tags: breast cancer, genes, women's health

1994

Former Scientific Director Rodbell awarded Nobel Prize in Medicine

Martin Rodbell, Ph.D.

In 1994, Martin Rodbell, Ph.D., an NIEHS scientist emeritus and former scientific director, was bestowed with the highest honor a scientist can receive, the Nobel Prize in Medicine. Pioneering studies by Rodbell and his colleagues at the NIH, laid the ground work for the discovery of “G-proteins” and their role in signal transduction, which regulates the human body's cellular “communication” activities. This discovery informed us about hormone function. It also played a role in demonstrating how light and odors are perceived, how signals travel between neurons in the brain, and how some diseases affect the function of our vital organs.

Full Highlight: Former Scientific Director Rodbell awarded Nobel Prize in Medicine

Tags: nobel, rodbell

1993

Particulate exposure linked to increased respiratory problems and risk of early death

smoke stacks

Researchers discovered a strong association between exposure to fine particles, sulfur dioxide, and acid aerosols, and an increase in respiratory symptoms, reduced lung capacity, and risk of early death.

Full Highlight: Particulate exposure linked to increased respiratory problems and risk of early death

Tags: air, lung

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