SCEHSC Seminar Series: “Communicating Air Quality Data and Health Risk to the Public”

The SCEHSC Seminar Series presents

“Communicating Air Quality Data and Health Risk to the Public”

Jo Kay Ghosh, PhD

Health Effects Officer
South Coast Air Quality Management District

Friday, September 9, 2016
11:45 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Soto Street I Building, Room 116
2001 North Soto Street
Los Angeles, CA 90032

If you would like to attend the FREE seminar, please email

Dr. Jo Kay Ghosh is the Health Effects Officer at the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD). She earned her doctorate in Epidemiology from the UCLA School of Public Health, with her work on air pollution and birth outcomes. She also conducted post-doctoral research at the USC Department of Preventive Medicine, examining the effects of air pollution on cancer risk. Previously, she worked at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, where she managed the Epidemiology and Research Unit of the Tuberculosis Control Program. 

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AirPollBrain and CEHC Presents: “Perinatal Metal Exposure and Neurodevelopment: Identifying Windows of Susceptibility”

The SCEHSC Seminar Series presents

“Perinatal Metal Exposure and Neurodevelopment: Identifying Windows of Susceptibility”

11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

AirPollBrain Mini-Symposium: “Air Pollution and Adolescent Brain Development”

12:00 p.m.-1:30 p.m.

Megan Horton, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Soto Street I Building, Room 116
2001 North Soto Street
Los Angeles, CA 90032

If you would like to attend the FREE seminar, please email

Dr. Horton earned her doctoral degree in Environmental Health Sciences at Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University. During her doctoral training, she gained expertise in the development and use of biological markers to measure prenatal and early life exposures to environmental toxicants, focusing mainly on residential exposure to pesticides. Subsequently, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Sergievsky Center for the Epidemiologic Study of Neurologic Diseases. The focus of this postdoc was to explore the use of brain imaging to investigate the impact of prenatal exposure to pesticides and secondhand smoke on neuropsychological and behavioral function throughout childhood. Dr. Horton was recently awarded an NIH career transition award and accepted a position as an Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Her current work combines her experience with biomarker development and neuroimaging to understand the mechanisms of neurodevelopmental toxicity following exposure to chemical mixtures.

Visitor parking at the Soto Street Building is limited. If you are planning to park at the Soto building during the seminar please contact Marissa Jacy ( for more information. If you are a USC employee, please plan to take the free USC shuttle to our seminars whenever possible. Information about the USC shuttle can be found at

SCEHSC Center members involved in KPCC Story: More than 150 LA child care centers dangerously close to freeways

Local KPCC reporter, Deepa Fernandez (Early Childhood Development Correspondent) approached SCEHSC staff and researchers last year to inquire about air pollution monitoring and health effects of near roadway air pollution on children. Today her feature story about childcare centers in Los Angeles in close proximity to freeways was published.We are proud to not only have our center members quoted in the story, but community partners as well.

Deepa Fernandez, KPCC

Culver City writer Tracey Moore loved everything about her daughter’s daycare. It was close to her family’s house, included some Spanish immersion, and her young child was smitten with the staff.

So when the owner informed parents she was moving, there was unanimous consensus among families that they would all follow her.

But when Moore saw the new daycare location, she was devastated: “It’s a side street that dead ends right at the freeway,” she recalled, “and the preschool is about a stone’s throw [away].”

Every day, more than 300,000 cars and trucks rumble through that section of the 405, according to CalTrans data for 2014 – making it one of the most highly-trafficked spots in Los Angeles. Moore didn’t know that specific statistic, but she could see the traffic and was concerned about what she called the “invisible ribbon of particles” drifting off the freeway from cars and trucks directly into the yard of the day care. Read more here

Map: Where child care facilities are next to highways

Air Pollution Has Similar Adverse Effects as Obesity on Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

Air Pollution Adversely Effects Insulin Sensitivity

PRESS: Reuters, Endocrine Today, Everyday Diabetes, Newsmax, Environment Today

It is a well-established fact that obese people are more likely to develop diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and be at increased risk for stroke. In a recent study published in Diabetes Care journal, USC researchers in the USC Keck School of Medicine found that fine particulate matter  that mostly comes from vehicles exhaust in Los Angeles has a similar significant effect as obesity on the risk of type 2 diabetes. “The most important clinical meaning of our results is that the impact of PM2.5 on Type 2 Diabetes related traits was comparable to the influence of obesity on these traits,” said the study’s lead author, postdoctoral research associate Zhanghua Chen.

With years of studying the role that air pollution plays in health outcomes, researchers at the Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center (SCEHSC) have equipped themselves to study how air pollution affects an individual’s risk for acquiring type 2 diabetes at some point in their lifetime.

In a study with Mexican American adults, who are at high risk of type 2 diabetes, Dr. Frank D. Gilliland, director of the SCEHSC, Chen and colleagues in the Keck School of Medicine at USC looked at how exposures to specific air pollutants and heavy traffic near their homes during various time periods from several days to a year impacted the risk of type 2 diabetes among this high risk group of Mexican-Americans.

The research team found that participants exposed to higher short-term average PM2.5 concentrations were more insulin resistant, had lower HDL to LDL (good to bad cholesterol) ratios and higher fasting glucose and insulin. Higher annual average exposure to PM2.5 also adversely affect fasting glucose, insulin resistance and blood lipids.  Additionally, obese people are more susceptible to the negative effects of short-term PM2.5 on insulin sensitivity.

“The uniqueness of this study paired air pollution measures with detailed and more direct measurements of insulin sensitivity and beta-cell function using a frequently sampled intravenous glucose tolerance test,” said Chen. “The Mexican American population is known for their high risk for obesity and, but they were less studied for the relationship between air pollution and type 2 diabetes.”

“Our significant findings about the detrimental impact of air pollution exposures on increased risk of type 2 diabetes indicate that stricter control of air pollution is needed to early prevent type 2 diabetes. Results from this study can provide policy makers with the information needed to formulate policy and regulation to protect public health,” said Chen.

Zhanghua Chen, Muhammad T. Salam, Claudia Toledo-Corral, Richard M. Watanabe, Anny H. Xiang, Thomas A. Buchanan, Rima Habre, Theresa M. Bastain, Fred Lurmann, John P. Wilson, Enrique Trigo, and Frank D. Gilliland. Ambient Air Pollutants Have Adverse Effects on Insulin and Glucose Homeostasis in Mexican Americans, Diabetes Care published ahead of print February 11, 2016, doi:10.2337/dc15-1795

Funding. This work was supported by National Institutes of Health grants DK-061628, M01-RR-0043, and UL1-TR000130, American Diabetes Association Research Award Clinical Research grant 7-09-CT-09, the Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (grant 5P30ES007048), National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences grant 5P01ES011627, and the Hastings Foundation.

Community Outreach recognized for involvement in change: Diesel emissions and health

NIEHS features our Center’s outreach program, under the long-time direction of Andrea Hricko, along with THE Impact Project and the Moving Forward Network. The article highlights community-driven nationwide efforts to clean the air and building healthier communities near ports, railyards and goods movement operations.

Click here to read more.


Dr. Ite Laird-Offringa Gives Lecture about Epigenetics and Lung Cancer Research

The SCEHSC sponsors monthly lectures featuring researchers from USC and other universities that relate to Environmental Health research. On Friday, October 3, Dr. Ite Laird-Offringa, of USC Norris Cancer Center visited the SCEHSC to lecture on “The Promise of Epigenomics to Dissect Human Tissue Function in Health and Disease.”

Dr. Laird-Offringa and her team of researchers are studying the role of DNA methylation and other epigenetic events in the development and progression of lung cancer. During her lecture, Dr. Laird-Offringa pointed out that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United states and world wide, and that the American Cancer Society estimates that 27% of all cancer deaths in the USA in 2014 will be from lung cancer. The long term objective of Dr. Laird’s research is to better understand the epigenetic control of cellular development in both cancerous and normal lung cells and to provide information that will enable lung cancer to be diagnosed earlier and therefore treated sooner. In the majority of instances, lung cancer is diagnosed too late along the continuum of the disease, resulting in high mortality rates.

Several faculty members commented on Dr. Laird-Offringa’s line of research. Dr. Carrie Breton, an assistant professor in the EH Division, explained, “While Dr. Laird’s approach has focused on understanding differences in epigenomic regulation in lung cancer, these same tools are of interest to researchers in Environmental Health. Environmental exposures may cause alterations to the epigenome that then affect downstream health outcomes of interest.”

Professor Ed Avol, organizer of the Center seminar series, noted, “One of the research areas of Center investigators is cancer and the importance of environmental exposures in cancer development. Lung cancer, and the obvious association with respiratory health, provides an ideal opportunity to see how our Center can gain new perspectives from other investigators that might re-frame our research directions.”

In addition giving a lecture, Dr. Laird-Offringa, spent time meeting with EH Division faculty members and researchers. Division research associates who are involved in the SCEHSC Career Development program had dedicated time to dialogue with Dr. Laird-Offringa about her experiences in the field, her career trajectory, and what has brought her the most challenge and reward over the course of her career. Among others she advised postdoctoral fellows to keep an active eye on their publication records: “Not every paper has to be a Cell, Science, or Nature paper; when your findings are only moderately interesting but solidly executed, consider publishing them to create a body of work you can build upon”.

LEARN MORE: For a basic explanation of Epigenetics, check out this short video: Engaging Epigenetics: A Tool for Stakeholder Education

Upcoming SCEHSC sponsored lectures include:

November 7:
“Outcome-based Design of Instruments for Measuring Exposures to Fine and Ultrafine Particles”
Dr. Richard Flagan, McCollum/Corcoran Professor, Depts of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, California Institute of Technology.
2001 N. Soto Street , Los Angeles, CA 90032, SSB 116

December 5:
Dr. W. James Gauderman, Director – Division Of Biostatistics, Dept of Preventive Medicine, USC
(Time and Location are the same as above)