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.
Toll-Like receptor 4 (TLR4) important in immune function
NIEHS researchers discovered a gene that plays an important role in immune function, known as toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4). It may also play a critical role in suppressing chronic lung inflammation and tumor development in mice.
Glucocorticoids and tumor necrosis factor alpha play unique role in regulating inflammation
Researchers identified a unique cooperative role for certain hormones and proteins in the body, specifically glucocorticoids and tumor necrosis factor alpha, in regulating adaptive immunity and inflammation. Inflammation has been implicated as a contributing factor in several human cancers, including lung cancer. These results have important implications for immune responses to agents like bacterial lipopolysaccharides and numerous other environmental agents.
Red tide compounds may treat cystic fibrosis
NIEHS-funded researchers discovered two new compounds derived from red tide that may treat mucus buildup associated with cystic fibrosis and similar lung diseases. Preliminary studies show these compounds improve the flow of mucus through the respiratory tract, allowing airways to clear more quickly and efficiently. These compounds offer new targets for the development of medications to help patients with cystic fibrosis and for individuals who may be affected during episodes of red tide algal blooms.
Air pollution increases risk of lung cancer, heart disease
NIEHS-funded researchers demonstrated that years of exposure to high concentrations of tiny particles of soot and dust from cars, power plants, and factories can increase a person's risk of dying from lung cancer and heart disease to a level that is comparable to the risk associated with prolonged exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke.
Smoking alters youthful DNA to increase lung cancer later in life
Early smoking may alter a young person's DNA, possibly increasing the risk of lung cancer years later, even after the smoker quits, researchers found.
Particulate exposure linked to increased respiratory problems and risk of early death
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.
Asbestos exposure linked to lung tumors, mesotheliomas
Researchers linked asbestos exposure to an increased incidence of lung tumors and mesotheliomas, and found that asbestos-exposed workers who smoke cigarettes have a risk of lung cancer more than ten times as great as asbestos-exposed individuals who do not smoke.