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 an alumnus of the Agents of Change in Environmental Justice Fellowship as well as the RWJF Health Policy Research Scholars 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 focus on integrating these biomarkers in diverse prospective cohorts to better understand mechanisms linking the human exposome to maternal health outcomes, child neurodevelopment, and cancer outcomes. 

Background: Some of the previous work (cited above) led by Professor Max Aung has focused on leveraging endogenous bioactive lipids as potential early biomarkers of adverse maternal health outcomes such as preterm birth. 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 to build on this previous work and co-design a new study to advance mechanistic understanding of maternal and child health outcomes. Through the Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes consortium, and Professor Aung’s recent funded work, we will have the capacity to link these bioactive lipids to multiple environmental pollutants (e.g. phthalates, phenols, and per-and-poly-fluoroalkyl substances) and maternal and child health phenotypes (e.g. maternal cardiovascular health, depressive symptoms, birth weight). In the first year of the internship, we will determine a research question and hypothesis, conduct literature review on the topic, and learn data analysis and visualization skills. In the second year of the internship, you will test your research hypothesis using some of the available data described above. 

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 
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