Facility Core: Integrated Health Sciences

The Center has three facility cores, which provide the expertise, technologies and services for collaborative, transdisciplinary environmental health research. Integrated Health Sciences Facility Core (IHSFC); the Environmental Epidemiology, Statistics and Informatics Facility Core (EESIFC); and the clinically oriented Phenotyping and Stress Assessment Facility Core (PSAFC).

Director: Robert Wright, MD, MPH Director

The Core is designed to support transdisciplinary and translational research across the Center by combining an Exposure Biomarker Laboratory and a Molecular Biomarker Laboratory, housed in a single shared in the heart of the Medical School campus. The IHSFC also contains a Biospecimens Subcore that is home to Mount Sinai’s recently established Placenta Biobank, a joint venture between Preventive Medicine and MCHDI, and a Clinical Population Access Subcore designed to increase access to Mount Sinai’s clinical practices for EHS research.

Key Functions

  • Generate standard exposure biomarkers (e.g., hair mercury, urinary BPA etc) and also to develop novel biomarkers of exposure.
  • Measure epigenetic and mitochondrial biomarkers of effect

The IHSFC provides “one-stop-shopping” for biomarkers relevant to environmental health research.
Center Members who wish to study mechanistic relationships between environmental exposures and disease can pursue such studies through consultation and access to a single core lab based in the IHSFC, with dual expertise in molecular and chemistry biomarkers.

The IHSFC provides expert consultation: e.g. information on appropriate sample matrices; on collection protocols that avoid contamination; on proper storage of samples; and on analytical methodologies. An asthma researcher, for example, interested in studying inhaled metals but unfamiliar with the best matrices and methods for assessing metal exposure, can have access to expert consultation and also to molecular biomarkers of effect.

The IHSFC is jointly based in the Department of Preventive Medicine and the Mindich Child Health and Development Institute (MCHDI).

Director: Paolo Boffetta, MD, PhD, Director, Institute for Translational Epidemiology (ITE).

This Core contains Subcores based across three Departments and Institutes: the Institute for Translational Epidemiology, the Department of Preventive Medicine and the Department of Genetics and Genomics. This Core serves as an analytical resource to investigators across the Center.

Key Functions

  • Provide expert consultation in epidemiology as well as in environmental biostatistics and environmental informatics.
  • Ensure that analysis of complex interactions from data generated in basic science, genetic, clinical, and epidemiological studies fits an appropriate biological framework.
  • Leverage the world-leading expertise of our informatics team which is based in the Department of Genetics and Genomics

This core can provide state-of-the- art services in high-dimensional database management and in the computing and analysis of “omic” data. This Core is also a strong link to the clinical population subcore of the IHSFC using its natural language processing skills to mine our clinical electronic medical records.

Lead: Rosalind Wright

PSAFC leverages the considerable expertise of Mount Sinai’s pediatricians in developmental and disease phenotyping across the spectrum of pediatric subspecialties. Faculty are drawn from pulmonology, allergy/immunology, child psychiatry, metabolism, cardiology, and nephrology. These fields represent the phenotypes most closely associated with pediatric environmental health and contain the phenotyping skills most likely to be needed by Center Members.

Key Functions

  • Provide clinical consultation to investigators across the Center, on a range of topics including respiratory studies, cognitive and behavioral studies, and endocrine assessments.
  • Provides Center Members with access to the Physiological Assessment of Children’s Environmental Risk (PACER) Laboratory. PACER has established and validated protocols that can be implemented to assess functioning of key regulatory systems susceptible to environmental influences from early development through childhood to adolescence.
  • Provide expert consultation on environmental and physiological stress measures, as a major objective of our Center is to promote a better understanding of social context as a modifier of chemical toxicants.

The laboratory also has the capacity to assess a range of pulmonary function tests, and offers ambulatory equipment, which allows for onsite and offsite deployment. We have established protocols for neurobehavioral and neurocognitive tests that can be administered in the field as well as in this laboratory. Through the PSAFC, Center investigators have access to the Human Immune Monitoring Center (HIMC), which is focused on establishing methods for deep profiling of patient samples using polychromatic flow cytometry and immunogenomics.

This Core is based in the Department of Pediatrics and the Mindich Child Health and Development Institute (MCHDI) with additional Members from the Seaver Autism Center and the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute.