USC Environmental Health Centers

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EH MATTERS Faculty: Dr. Max Aung

Dr. Max Aung, PhD, MPH 
Assistant Professor in the Division of Environmental Health, Keck School of Medicine 

Websites: Google Scholar, LinkedIn.Youtube video overview of research at ISEE Webinar

Dr. Max Aung is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Environmental Health at the University of Southern California. Dr. Aung is also a Harvard JPB Environmental Health Fellow, Co-Director of the EH MATTERS Program, and Assistant Director of the Agents of Change in Environmental Justice Fellowship. His research focuses on applying data science frameworks to understand potential mechanisms linking chemical mixtures to health across the life course and pursue environmental justice. He specifically integrates multiple hierarchies of exogenous and endogenous biomarkers, including biomonitored toxicant exposures, targeted bioactive lipids, and untargeted lipidomics and metabolomics. His current funded projects include integration of these biomarkers in diverse prospective cohorts to better understand mechanisms linking the human exposure to maternal and child neurobehavioral health. Additionally, he is pursuing emerging translational environmental health projects to evaluate neurological mechanisms in experimental animal models.

Background:Some of the previous work led by Professor Aung has focused on leveraging endogenous bioactive lipids as potential early biomarkers of adverse maternal health outcomes such as preterm birth, maternal depressive symptoms, and child neurodevelopment. These bioactive lipids have important functions, including regulating inflammation, angiogenesis, and cell-to-cell signaling. One of the previous studies also showed that exposures to endocrine disrupting toxicants are associated with altered concentrations of circulating bioactive lipids.

EH MATTERS Internship Description: In this internship, you can collaborate with Professor Aung on one of his recently funded projects. Through funding from the JPB Foundation, Dr. Aung will be investigating the effects of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) on maternal depressive symptoms and intermediate mechanisms of lipid metabolism. And through pilot funding from the Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center and the Center for Translational Research on Environmental Health, Dr. Aung will be investigating brain region specific gene expression in an experimental rat model of PFAS exposure and neurobehavioral and cognition. 

Key Research Articles:

  1. Aung et al. 2019, Scientific Reports 
  1. Aung et al. 2020, Nature Communications 
  1. Aung et al. 2021, Environmental Health Perspectives 
  1. Zimmerman et al. 2022, Pediatric Research 
  2. Aung et al. 2023. Environment International
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