The Children’s Environmental Health Center (CEHC) is a Center of Excellence at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Located in the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health, our faculty conducts groundbreaking research to identify the environmental causes of childhood diseases.
We translate our findings into solutions using research to educate families and advocate for public policy that protect children’s health.
Research – Under the leadership of Robert O. Wright, MD, MPH, the research conducted at the CEHC employs a new “transdisciplinary” model— one based on the idea that no single field of science can explain the environmental origins of diseases. Our team integrates disciplines like molecular biology, chemistry, toxicology, biostatistics, bioinformatics, and phenotyping to develop new methods to address how the environment shapes health and disease. From this research, we develop evidence based strategies for disease prevention and treatment.
The Senator Frank R. Lautenberg Environmental Health Sciences Laboratory is our state-of-the-art research facility that supports our cutting-edge research and gives our Center the unique ability to quickly assess whether individuals or their environments are contaminated with toxic chemicals. No other facility in the U.S. outside of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has such capacity to examine these exposures. Our mission is to measure human environment comprehensively including chemicals, air pollution, social stressors and nutrition.
Pilot Research Projects are a signature research initiative. Using a “venture capital” approach to fund research, our center supports new studies that investigate the environmental causes of childhood diseases.
The Transdisciplinary Center on Health Effects of Early Environmental Expsosures (TCEEE) studies the health impacts of chemical, genetic, nutritional, and social exposures to understand how environmental exposures in early life influence health, development, and risk of disease across the life span.
The Autism and Learning Disabilities Discovery and Prevention Project is a coordinated, multidisciplinary effort to discover the environmental causes of these common conditions. Currently, one in six American children is afflicted with a developmental disability. While sophisticated research has linked genetic factors to autism spectrum disorder (ASD), we are learning that genetics alone accounts for only about one third of cases – leading our center to establish this research program.
The Endocrine Disruptor Research Program (EDRP) is a comprehensive research plan that encompasses all projects that examine the effects of exposures to bisphenol-A (BPA), phthalates, pesticides, and perchlorate on children’s health. Currently, the EDRP coordinates two large multi-center pregnancy cohort studies that are examining the developmental effects of prenatal exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals. Researchers also study the impact of early exposures on childhood conditions like obesity, breast cancer risk, pubertal timing, neurodevelopment, and reproductive outcomes.
Education – The Mount Sinai Environmental Medicine Internship Program for Minority Students is a short-term training opportunity in environmental and occupational health. The Program’s multidisciplinary focus allows students to explore their interests while participating in cutting-edge biomedical research in our laboratories. We select candidates from all over the United States, from such diverse fields as medicine and science, anthropology, education, public health, social work, and laboratory backgrounds in areas such as cell and molecular biology.
The Fellowship in Children’s Environmental Health is a highly competitive, three-year training program for the future leaders of environmental pediatrics. Each year, we select the most highly accomplished pediatricians and postdoctoral students from across the U.S. for mentored training.
The Mount Sinai Pregnancy Biobank is a unique, shared resource that fosters scientific investigations on the environmental causes of childhood diseases. By providing researchers with access to umbilical cord blood and placental tissue samples from pregnancies delivered at Mount Sinai Hospital, and linking samples to clinical and environmental information, the Biobank will become a platform for a number of multidisciplinary studies, including the newly developed New York Children’s Study.
The Mount Sinai Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU) is the clinical component of our Center, part of a national network of PEHSUs supported by the CDC. To date, our pediatricians have provided care to the families of over 5,000 children who have experienced toxic environmental exposures.
Advocacy – In November, shortly after the election, Dr. Robert Wright was asked to brief Congress along with Dr. Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), and Sarah Ervin from the Honest Company. The briefing was in honor of the 50th anniversary of NIEHS. NIEHS held a celebration festival in North Carolina in December where Dr. Wright gave the keynote address for the Superfund Grantee meeting.
From left to right: Sarah Ervin, Robert Wright, MD, MPH, Linda Birnbaum, PhD, Virginia Rauh, ScD, and Joel Kaufman, MD.
Testifying before the President’s Cancer Panel, U.S. Congress, and state legislatures. Our work has led to legislation that banned BPA from infant formula bottles, baby food containers, and thermal receipt paper in Suffolk County, New York and Connecticut, as well as a New Jersey law that mandates testing all school and daycare centers for industrial pollutants.
Leading the creation of a groundbreaking report that found children to be uniquely susceptible to the effects of pesticides. This report, developed by Philip J. Landrigan, MD, MSc, profoundly changed public policy on pesticides and other toxic chemicals, and it served as the blueprint for the only federal environmental law that contains explicit provisions for the protection of children.
Creating the intellectual foundation for the 1997 Presidential Executive Order on Children’s Health and the Environment, which recognized that children are uniquely susceptible to environmental hazards.
Ban on phthalates in children’s toys. Shanna H. Swan, PhD, an international expert in the field of endocrine disruption and children’s health played an important role in the ban on phthalates in children’s toys by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act in 2008.
Toxic Turf in Connecticut. Sarah Evans, PhD from the CEHC and members of the Hartford, Connecticut community and representatives Anne Hulick from Safe & Healthy Connecticut, Alex Bergstein (then Chairman of the CEHC) from Greening Our Children, and Ellen Lautenberg of the CEHC testified for the ban of toxic turf in local playgrounds. This discussion led to Greening Our Children’s Safe Lawns Initiative campaign and led to the creation of the CEHC’s Artificial Turf Health-Based Consumer Guide.
Leadership and Staff
Robert O. Wright, MD, MPH
Rosalind J. Wright, MD, MPH
Sarah Evans, PhD
Outreach and Education
Maida Galvez, MD, MPH
Outreach and Education
Communications and Marketing
Suzanne B. Price
Benjamin B. Edmands
David B. Murphy
Wendy Mindel Rubinstein
Contact the CEHC
Children’s Environmental Health Center
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
One Gustave L. Levy Place, Box 1057
New York, New York 10029
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