Grants and Contracts Details


PROJECT SUMMARY - Pilot Project The overall goal of the pilot program of the University of Kentucky Center for Appalachian Research and Environmental Science (UK-CARES) is to provide new opportunities and resources to support highly innovative and collaborative research studies that will enhance the ability to identify and capitalize on emerging environmental issues. This will be accomplished by providing developmental and pilot funds for innovative, time-sensitive pilot studies that improve our understanding of the relationships among environmental exposures, human biology, and disease. Specifically, the goals of the UK-CARES Pilot Program are to: 1. Expand the research mission of UK-CARES by supporting new and novel areas of investigation in promising transdisciplinary areas of environmental health research and environmental medicine. 2. Provide research support for early career faculty to establish competitive research programs in environmental health science and environmental medicine. 3. Provide support for faculty to explore new and innovative directions representing a significant departure from ongoing funded research into the environmental health sciences discipline. 4. Enhance the interactions and expand the critical mass of investigators with expertise and experience in transdisciplinary, translational environmental health and environmental medicine research on the UK campus. 5. Foster opportunities that meet goals and research interest areas relevant to NIEHS. The pilot program will contribute to creating synergy across the proposed UK-CARES Projects, enhancing the educational component, as well as initiating interactions among UK-CARES investigators and other researchers at the University of Kentucky. The Pilot Program will actively facilitate research, support newly emerging technologies, and focus on the development of the next generation of environmental health scientists. PROJECT SUMMARY – Administrative Core The University of Kentucky Center for Appalachian Research in Environmental Sciences (UK-CARES) will be established as a transdisciplinary Environmental Health Sciences Core Center (EHS CC) designed to develop and operationalize strategic infrastructure assets relevant to cutting-edge environmental health research and provide leadership for scientific and programmatic activities supporting ongoing, new, and evolving studies in this area. The Administrative Core is an essential component of this EHS CC providing communication, coordination, and oversight to ensure overall operations and scientific integration of all UK-CARES components. In addition, the Administrative Core facilitates integration of goals with community needs and concerns through dynamic community outreach and engagement activities to enable effective translation of findings to and from the affected communities. The Administrative Core staff will closely monitor the effectiveness of UK-CARES programs and initiatives to ensure that the Center resources enhance member research productivity. Specific aims are to 1) provide scientific and programmatic leadership and coordinate and integrate the Center’s components and activities as well as to facilitate communications and interactions across all Center components and with affected communities and community stakeholders; 2) organize and facilitate program activities, internal and external communications, and research discussions among Center members, community members, and internal and external advisory board members, including retreats, consultant interactions, seminars, Research Interest Group meetings, and media and newsletters; integrate community outreach and engagement activities to ensure that multi-directional translation and communication remain at the forefront of UK-CARES efforts; 3) provide financial oversight, facilitate resource support, and ensure regulatory compliance related to the Center’s research and community activities and maintain Center records and measures of success including use of UK-CARES facilities and publications, pilot project awards, and new grant applications resulting from preliminary data enabled by UK-CARES; 4) coordinate the Career Development Program to promote collaboration among basic, clinical, and population scientists with a broad range of skills within a rich environment for early stage investigators to develop diverse professional skills and to attract mid-level investigators and scientists in other fields through opportunities to focus on environmentally induced disease; and 5) evaluate the productivity, effectiveness, and appropriateness of UK-CARES activities, determine the Center membership, assess scientific opportunities and areas for collaboration among members and citizen scientists, and coordinate UK-CARES infrastructure assessments as intellectual needs change to accommodate new opportunities for collaboration. The expected outcome is a set of seamless interactions throughout UK-CARES. PROJECT SUMMARY- ANALYTICAL CORE The overarching goal of the Analytical Core is to improve the capacity, quality, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of environmental disease research at the University of Kentucky (UK). This will be achieved by providing UK-Center for Appalachian Research in Environmental Science (UK-CARES) researchers with premium access to expert advice, consultation and technical support to develop and validate analytical methods using state-of-the-art technologies for studies spanning the range of environmental disease research areas represented in the center. These services are needed to detect and measure environmental pollutants and biomarkers of environmental exposures, which requires sophisticated instrumentation and technical expertise that is unavailable to individual investigators. Our partner facility cores, the Small Molecule Mass Spectrometry Core laboratory (SMMSC) and Resource Center for Stable Isotope Resolved Metabolomics (RC-SIRM), can provide the entire range of analytical capabilities required for state-of-the-art environmental disease research. However, effective use of these facilities by environmental disease researchers often requires new method development, validation and pilot studies to establish analyte levels and technical reproducibility. The properties of the target analytes and the need to measure them at low levels in environmental and biological samples frequently present unique challenges for sample preparation. With validated analytical methods in hand data analysis can be challenging, particularly since biological and health outcomes are dictated by exposures to multiple agents often requiring precise, accurate and simultaneous measurements of multiple analytes or biomarkers of environmental exposures and informatics approaches to enable integrated analysis of large data sets. The Analytical Core addresses these limitations by providing consultation in the design, execution and interpretation of studies that require use of advanced analytical instrumentation for environmental disease research. The core staff will then develop and validate sample preparation and analytical methods for detection and quantitation of environmental pollutants and biomarkers in complex samples and provide consultation and assistance with statistical methods for the analysis of datasets generated using these analytical methods. Finally the Analytical Core will provide education and training in analytical and data analysis methods for environmental disease research through personal outreach, courses and workshops, enabling integration of analytical and metabolomics technologies into the research of UK-CARES members. Overall, the Analytical Core will add considerable value to environmental disease research at UK by leveraging existing institutional and NIH investments in research infrastructure to achieve the goals of our UK-CARES research team. PROJECT SUMMARY – Community Outreach and Engagement Core The aims of the UK Center for Appalachian Research in Environmental Sciences (UK-CARES) Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC) are to: 1) Increase awareness and knowledge among community partners about the environmental health research being conducted at the Center across the entire spectrum from basic science to community and population health research; 2) Increase community and stakeholder participation in community-engaged research to identify and communicate environmental concerns to UKCARES investigators; and 3) Increase enrollment in citizen and academic training in science communication to leverage community-academic environmental health science partnerships. In Aim 1, we use multi-modal outreach strategies (e.g., community events, media advocacy, social media, written materials/website) that engage community partners in developing dissemination plans and culturally appropriate outreach and messaging approaches. Aim 2 uses multi-directional channels through which researchers can listen to the needs and concerns of local residents and community stakeholder organizations. Strategies include conducting focus groups with community health coalitions, environmental activists, work groups, ad hoc community groups, and healthcare entities. In Aim 3, we adapt, evaluate, and integrate science communication workshops into our career development activities and ensure effective science communication with community stakeholders, and recognize excellence in community engagement. UK-CARES COEC is uniquely positioned to lead this effort due to our longstanding community-engaged research partnerships with citizens and community stakeholder organizations in three contiguous Area Development Districts located in southeastern Kentucky: Big Sandy, Kentucky River, and Cumberland Valley. Community members identify air and water quality impacts due to mining and fracking as critical concerns. We partner with five major community stakeholder organizations (Appalachian Citizens Law Center, Appalachian Voices, Area Health Education Centers, Center for Rural Strategies, and Headwaters, Inc.) and five community residents to advise the COEC. The COEC values the complex, heterogeneous nature of the communities of Appalachian Kentucky and their rich heritage, self-reliance, and pride of place. The COEC is tightly integrated into the organizational structure of UK-CARES with direct impact on community-informed Center decision making. The long-term goal is to create a strong, sustained community-academic partnership to support meaningful community engagement and environmental health literacy, leveraging these community perspectives to facilitate new understandings of environmental factors in disease initiation, progression, outcomes, and community impacts. PROJECT SUMMARY – Integrative Health Sciences Facility Core The University of Kentucky Center for Appalachian Research in Environmental Sciences (UK-CARES) is designed to facilitate discovery and new understandings of environmental factors in disease initiation, progression, and outcomes as well as their community impacts and to advance the careers of scientists who are interested in tackling challenging environmental health questions. A critical element to this endeavor is development of a well-equipped Integrative Health Sciences Facility Core (IHSFC) to facilitate and enable the development and conduct of translational studies based on the current environmental health research base and on emerging new scientific directions as well. The Center draws its theme in part from the challenges endemic to the disadvantaged rural population in southeastern Kentucky and the documented health disparities in this area of Appalachian Kentucky that have been linked to environmental factors. The proposed IHSFC serves as the primary institutional access point to specifically facilitate environmentally related translational and clinical studies, providing the critical central infrastructure to enable transformation and expansion of a portfolio of projects focused on environmental health. The IHSFC offers investigators guidance, assistance, and operational support for multi-directional translational and clinical research development. To deliver this support effectively, the Core will also function as a model for integration of other UK-CARES core resources and of cooperating UK campus centers to meet the needs of Center investigators. Further, the IHSFC will leverage resources relevant to our target communities. Thus, this core provides critical linkages to other UK-CARES cores and has collaborative connections to relevant cooperating UK centers and their facilities: UK’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science, NCI-designated Markey Cancer Center, Kentucky Children’s Hospital, and the UK Center of Excellence in Rural Health, which is located in the Kentucky River District to best serve the needs of the focus communities. Participation by these four entities will facilitate priority access by UK-CARES members to such services as study design, regulatory support, data management and clinical informatics, subject recruitment and retention, specimen management, and cell and animal systems support. The central goal of the IHSFC is to enable progressive translational, clinical, and population-based research projects that address environmental health concerns in our region. We will achieve this goal via these specific aims: 1) provide support for collaborative and team-driven efforts among basic scientists, clinical researchers, community engagement experts, and public health researchers; 2) provide and manage resources to facilitate the progression of environmental health sciences from basic mechanistic and toxicological research to translational programs that improve public health and clinical practice in our affected communities; 3) facilitate ‘reverse-translational’ research activities by addressing community concerns or community-level study findings and developing programs to stimulate preclinical research activities.
Effective start/end date5/1/173/31/20


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