Particles Research Core

Particulate air pollution remains a serious public health problem in the U.S. and the world, and continues to be a major focus of the Harvard-NIEHS Center. Understanding exposures to environmental and occupational airborne particles, their health effects, the mechanisms of these effects, and public health implications of these exposures requires a multidisciplinary approach. This research requires the expertise of atmospheric chemists, engineers, aerosol scientists, toxicologists, physiologists, pulmonologists, cardiologists, immunologists, molecular biologists, epidemiologists, statisticians, and experts in risk assessment.  Fostering these collaborations is a major focus of the Particles Research Core.

Under the leadership of John Godleski, MD, Particles Core investigators have made substantial contributions in developing novel exposure systems for the study of source-specific particles that contribute to the mix of urban air pollution, developing methods of monitoring using satellite data to estimate local air pollution, identifying new health effect outcomes such as neuro-cognitive changes associated with increased air pollution exposures, and advancing our understanding of mechanisms of cardiovascular health effects.

New research initiatives include the development of a nanoparticle research center. Collaborative investigations focus on medical, as well as industrial uses of nanoparticles, as in formulations of common products like paints and other surface coverings. Other collaborations have been developed to explore particle exposure effects over the lifespan. Particles Core members have teamed up with outside investigators who provide access to important research cohorts that have been developed for other purposes, such as the Project Viva (antenatal period through childhood); the Nurse’s Health Study and the Framingham Heart Study (middle and older years).

The productivity and leadership of the Harvard-NIEHS Center in assessing the exposures, the health effects, and the policy implications of airborne particles highlights the importance of the multidisciplinary approach made possible by the Center.