The article below first appeared in the April 2022 Environmental Factor newsletter here.
BY MARLA BROADFOOT, NIEHS
When NIEHS grantee Lida Chatzi, M.D., Ph.D., ran a clinic for childhood obesity in Crete, Greece, more than a decade ago, she was struck by the daunting complexity of metabolic diseases.
“It has been clear to me since the beginning of my career that you cannot simply adhere to a specific diet or run 30 minutes a day and resolve the issue of obesity,” she said. “It’s more complex than that.”
Today, Chatzi has built a research program around understanding how exposure to environmental chemicals affects metabolic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and cancer. She is professor of Population and Public Health Sciences at the University of Southern California (USC), and she directs the school’s Center for Translational Research on Environmental Health.
Chatzi recently led an international research team to identify metabolic “signatures” that can determine the quality of diets in children and predict their metabolic health. The study, published in the journal eLife, is one of many projects integrating human population data and novel laboratory methods to yield important insights into exposure risk and disease development.