The environment has an enormous impact on human health, and exposures to environmental toxicants can lead to the development of a myriad of diseases. The overall goal of my research is to understand the complex gene-environment interactions that are critically involved in diseases relevant to public health. The unprecedented and breathtaking developments in modern genetics and genomics have the potential to advance our fundamental mechanistic understanding of how the environment impacts health and to transform environmental health sciences. We use cutting-edge genetics and genomics approaches (e.g., RNAi screen and Next-Generation sequencing) to discover genes and genetic networks central to the development of environmental diseases. A combination of molecular, cellular and biochemical approaches as well as animal models are then employed to elucidate the underlying mechanisms. Through collaborations with epidemiologists and clinicians, we also aim to understand the genetic basis of individual variation in susceptibility to environmental exposures in the human population.
Major areas of focus include: 1) Genetic mechanisms of metal neurotoxicity, 2) Integrative genomics of lung physiology and disease (asthma), and 3) Novel microvesicle-mediated intercellular communication in lung and environmental diseases.