Superfund Research Program
Project Leader: Bhagavatula Moorthy
Grant Number: P42ES027725
Funding Period: 2020-2025
Project Summary (2020-2025)
The preterm birth (PTB) rate in Harris County, Texas is an alarming 13.6 percent (the national average is 9.6 percent), and in areas surrounding Superfund sites, the PTB rate is even higher (>:20 percent). There are 15 Superfund sites in Harris County, posing a significant health risk to people living in the vicinity. PTB often leads to many complications, including chronic lung disease, also termed bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), and some of these patients develop neurocognitive deficits later in life. One of the possible risk factors for PTB is polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), present in contaminated soil, sediments, and water at various Superfund sites across the U.S., including in the greater Houston area. The overarching hypothesis of the Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) - Rice University Superfund Research Program (SRP) is that maternal exposure to PAHs, which are present in Superfund sites, increases the risk of PTB and incrementally augments major morbidities such as BPD and neurocognitive deficits. The leaders of the Administrative and Research Translation Core, Drs. Bhagavatula Moorthy (Director), Pedro Alvarez (Deputy Director), Kjersti Aagaard (Associate Director), and Naomi Halas (Associate Director), bring their collective scientific, educational, and leadership experience to guide the BCM-Rice SRP and address Superfund directives. The Administrative Core acts as the center of communication within the Center, responsible for creating an efficient organizational structure. To this end, the core facilitates interdisciplinary communication, collaboration, and integration of the Center’s research projects and cores. Further, the Administrative Core explores creative ways to promote investigator-initiated research translation (IIRT) opportunities with assistance from the research translation coordinators, Drs. Mellissa Bondy and Philip Lupo. The Administrative Core also plays a key role in the communication with various external stakeholders, including NIEHS and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as with community partners, in close collaboration with the Community Engagement Core (CEC). The Administrative Core also takes an active role with the Research Experience and Training Coordination Core (RETCC) to create a vibrant training program and foster the development of environmental health and science professionals. The Administrative Core ensures financial responsibility and management of the Center and works with the Data Management and Analysis Core (DMAC) to ensure responsible management of data. This includes working with project and core leaders, the Office of Research, and individual departments to ensure accomplishment of the proposed aims. The Administrative Core also collaborates with sister SRPs as needed and leverages support and resources so the goals of the BCM-Rice SRP are accomplished in a timely and efficient manner and avoid duplication of efforts.