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NIEHS Director unveils new strategic plan for environmental health sciences

One year into his role as the Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health, David A. Schwartz, M.D., unveils a new strategic plan aimed at challenging and energizing the scientific community to use environmental health sciences to understand the causes of disease and to improve human health. The plan, "New Frontiers in Environmental Sciences and Human Health" fundamentally changes the way NIEHS approaches research. Traditionally, NIEHS has supported individual scientists whose work focused on either basic biological responses to environmental agents or environmental problems in public health. The new strategy emphasizes research focused on complex human disease, and calls for inter-disciplinary teams of scientists to investigate a broad spectrum of disease factors, including environmental agents, genetics, age, diet, and activity levels. Recent advances in technology make this emphasis on human health and new integrative approach possible.

"Given that almost every human disease can be caused, modified, or altered by environmental agents, the NIEHS is in a unique position to focus on the interplay between exposures and biological responses," said Dr. Schwartz. "This document builds on the strengths of the institute, but redefines our focus and maximizes our use of new technologies like gene mapping, high throughput toxicity screening and computer-aided imaging. This provides a framework for enhancing our ability to respond to new challenges in biomedical research and to have an even greater impact on human health."

Dr. Schwartz cites the Institute's work in the areas of genetic toxicity, inflammation, oxidative stress, as well as its contribution to improved public health as examples of its strengths.

The plan identifies seven major goals for NIEHS to achieve while also identifying some of the major challenges confronting the field. The concept of enhancing "
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Contact: Robin Mackar
rmackar@niehs.nih.gov
919-541-0073
NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
1-May-2006


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