NEWS Study

The Hoffman team has embarked on a 5 year longitudinal epidemiological cohort (Nurse Engagement and Wellness Study, or NEWS) of student nurses in collaboration with the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP), School Of Nursing. Student nurses will be followed for two years during the student nursing program and one year as professional nurses. Enrollment for the study has started in Spring 2016, and we currently have about 300 participants in the cohort.

The border city El Paso, with Juárez, Mexico in distance.


About the Study

This research study will explore how stress caused by social and environmental factors can interact with chemical exposures and affect our body. Chemical exposures will include those encountered at work and the use of personal care products. We will document stresses in early life as well as work, school, and life stress. Recent studies have shown that exposure to stress early in life may increase the risk of chronic illness later in life and there has been documentation that many environmentally sensitive individuals relate to traumatic experiences early in childhood. We are particularly interested in understanding how the interactions of stress and chemicals make us more susceptible to inflammation, and how inflammation may accelerate the development of environmental sensitivity symptoms.

Why Nurses?

Nurses provide an ideal study population to assess environmental sensitivities as they often encounter chemical exposures during their work activities along with high levels of stress.

Human Gut Microbiome

The human intestine is the home of approximately1014 bacteria, which represent a major source of genetic and metabolic diversity in human populations and have a critical role in preserving homeostasis. Over the past decade, newly developed culture-independent genomics techniques such as 16S ribosomal ribonucleic acid (16S rRNA) gene sequencing and metagenomic sequencing, have provided a broader and more comprehensive picture of the whole community landscape of gut microbiota.

Link between mood and gut bacteria

Recent animal studies have provided evidence for the interaction of gut microbiome with components of the gut-brain axis, which can modulate functions of the GI track, CNS circuitry, autonomic nervous system (ANS) and immune system. This led to the hypothesis that gut microbiome may be involved in the etiopathogenesis of various chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, many of which are commonly associated with MCS/TILT/DELTA. As part of the NEWS study, we are exploring the interaction between the student nurses’ gut microbiome and their early life adverse experience, and how the differences observed in different groups may be associated with chemical sensitivities and other health outcomes in adulthood.


Our Collaborators

Hector in his lab at UTEP. He is our key collaborator of the NEWS study, and is in charge of the recruitment, online surveys, and implementation of all experiments at UTEP.

Dr. Hector Olvera
Associate Professor, Director of Research
School of Nursing, Center for Environmental Resource Management
University of Texas, El Paso
Web page:



Dr. Sepideh Pakpour
Assistant Professor
School of Engineering
The University of British Columbia


Dr. Sepideh Pakpour is an Assistant Professor in the field of Biomedical Engineering at the University of British Columbia, Canada.  Her research focuses on dynamics of microbial ecosystems and modeling microbiome interactions with environmental variables, be those variables disease onset or human health performance. She has a PhD from the University of British Columbia in Biology, and completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the world-renowned Broad Institute of Harvard & Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She specializes both in the experimental and computational areas of human microbiome , and her collaboration focuses on genomic sequencing, bioinformatics and data analysis for the microbiome part of the NEWS study.