Research Centers to Study Environment's Impact on Health

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health, is awarding a total of $6.8 million for the first year of funding to three new research centers called DISCOVER (Disease Investigation Through Specialized Clinically-Oriented Ventures in Environmental Research). The new DISCOVER centers are expected to bridge the gap between basic research and clinical treatment of diseases caused by environmental factors.

"The DISCOVER centers will help to define the role of environmental agents in the initiation and progression of human disease and develop new ways to both prevent and treat disease," said Dennis Lang, Ph.D., interim director, NIEHS Division of Extramural Research and Training. "The potential impact of the research that these three centers will be conducting is enormous."

The NIEHS launched the DISCOVER program in January 2006 when the initial grant opportunities were announced. The centers reflect an integrated research approach expected to advance our understanding of how the environment interacts with biological processes to either preserve health or cause disease by bringing together laboratory research and population based studies.

David Balshaw, Ph.D., one of the scientists at NIEHS who helped develop the program, stated: "The research being supported through this program is unique in that each DISCOVER center will support projects that will be patient- or clinically oriented, while also looking at the mechanisms of how certain environmental factors influence disease etiology, pathogenesis, susceptibility, progression, and prognosis."

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