Letter from the Chair



Welcome to the
Department of Environmental Medicine

The theme of our Department’s research is to understand the environmental causes of disease by investigating which genes, epigenetic programs, and cell signaling pathways influence the processes of disease development. Our Department focuses on several important research areas, including early detection and prevention, health effects of metals and particulate matter, and susceptibility to environmental disease. We strive to build upon our mounting strength in epigenetics by including this as a focus in all aspects of our research.
The broad goals of our Department are the identification, evaluation, prevention, and control of the adverse impacts of environmental factors on human health, with strong focuses in the areas of ambient air pollution effects, environmental and occupational exposures to heavy metals, and the roles of dietary factors in the causation and prevention of human cancer and disease. Further, the Department reaches out to the community (local and regional) providing assistance, information and education on environmental issues, and trains graduate and medical students for productive careers in research, teaching, and other professional services. The Department also guides its members into new research areas of interest to the NIH and NIEHS involving modern technology or research areas that are timely and may have significant environmental impact (e.g., our rapid response to the World Trade Center disaster, which currently has recruited cohorts from those exposed to WTC dust for long term disease follow up). Our NIEHS Center of Excellence supports investigator-initiated pilot projects, as well as encourages initiatives via RFPs in new areas that the Center and NIEHS deem important for future studies of impacts of the environment on human health and disease.

The NYU Department of Environmental Medicine has grown to become one of the world’s pre-eminent research institutions that studies how environmental factors cause human disease. The Department’s continued coordination and application of broad-based scientific talents and research techniques will:

1) facilitate research that pointedly relates environmental factors to human disease;

2) identify mechanisms responsible for the adverse health effects produced by environmental agents;

3) study the relationship between genes and environmental factors that activate or deactivate genes contributing both to differences among populations as well as inter-individual variations in susceptibility to the development and progression of human diseases;

4) focus on epigenetic parameters affected by environmental agents to elucidate how changes in these parameters lead to diseases, such as cancer and asthma, and serves as a basis for adult disease following early life insult; and;

5) develop methods for the detection, prevention and control of environmental exposures that cause or exacerbate human diseases.


Max Costa
Environmental Medicine