Core Facilities

The Center has three facility cores, which provide the expertise, technologies and services for collaborative, transdisciplinary environmental health research. Integrated Health Sciences Facility Core (IHSFC); the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Facility Core (BBFC); and the clinically oriented Phenotyping and Environmental Modifier Facility Core (PEMFC).

 

 

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Integrated Health Sciences Facility Core (IHSFC)

 

Director: Dr. Manish Arora

The Core is designed to support transdisciplinary and translational research across the Center by combining an Exposure Biomarker Laboratory and a Molecular Biomarker Laboratory, housed in a single shared in the heart of the Medical School campus. The IHSFC also contains a Biospecimens Subcore that is home to Mount Sinai’s recently established Placenta Biobank, a joint venture between Environmental Medicine and Public Health, MCHDI, and a Clinical Population Access Subcore designed to increase access to Mount Sinai’s clinical practices for EHS research.

Key Functions

  • Generate standard exposure biomarkers (e.g., hair mercury, urinary BPA etc) and also to develop novel biomarkers of exposure.
  • Measure genetic and epigenetic biomarkers of effect

The IHSFC provides “one-stop-shopping” for biomarkers relevant to environmental health research.

Center Members who wish to study mechanistic relationships between environmental exposures and disease can pursue such studies through consultation and access to a single core lab based in the IHSFC, with dual expertise in molecular and chemistry biomarkers. The IHSFC also has a population access subcore that facilitates clinical environmental health research and also connects researchers interested in collaborating with a number of our longitudinal birth cohorts.

The IHSFC provides expert consultation: e.g. information on appropriate sample matrices; on collection protocols that avoid contamination; on proper storage of samples; and on analytical methodologies. An asthma researcher, for example, interested in studying inhaled metals but unfamiliar with the best matrices and methods for assessing metal exposure, can have access to expert consultation and also to molecular biomarkers of effect.

The IHSFC is jointly based in the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health and the Mindich Child Health and Development Institute (MCHDI).

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Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Facility Core (BBFC)

The Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Facility Core (BBFC) is comprised of faculty in the Department of Environmental Medicine & Public Health, and the Department of Genetics & Genomics. BBFC plays a key role in our Center’s mission by modeling complex, sometimes novel, exposure and phenotype data generated by center members across a wide variety of study types (basic, clinical, epidemiologic) while focusing on developing methods to better address our Center’s research themes (multiple exposures/mixtures, stress-chemical interactions, and sex specific effects of environmental exposure).

Key Functions

  • Provide expert consultation in environmental biostatistics and environmental bioinformatics;
  • Provide standard data analytic services in biostatistics (e.g., linear models, longitudinal mixed effects models, power calculations, study analysis planning) and bioinformatics (e.g., high-dimensional database management; analysis of “omic” data; linking with the IHSFC, with its natural language processing skills, to mine clinical electronic medical records);
  • Provide expert consultation in study design and analysis plans for collaborative grant applications;
  • Provide integrative services linking center-related research questions with development of novel biostatistical/bioinformatics methods; and
  • Provide statistical and bioinformatics training for postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty working on environmental health related projects.

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PhenotypeCore

Phenotyping and Environmental Modifier Facility Core (PEMFC)

 

Leader: Dr. Rosalind J. Wright

PEMFC leverages the considerable expertise of Mount Sinai’s pediatricians in developmental and disease phenotyping across the spectrum of pediatric subspecialties. Faculty are drawn from pulmonology, allergy/immunology, child psychiatry, metabolism, cardiology, and nephrology. These fields represent the phenotypes most closely associated with pediatric environmental health and contain the phenotyping skills most likely to be needed by Center Members.

Key Functions

  • Provide clinical consultation to investigators across the Center, on a range of topics including respiratory studies, cognitive and behavioral studies, and endocrine assessments.
  • Provides Center Members with access to the Physiological Assessment of Children’s Environmental Risk (PACER) Laboratory. PACER has established and validated protocols that can be implemented to assess functioning of key regulatory systems susceptible to environmental influences from early development through childhood to adolescence.
  • Provide expert consultation on environmental and physiological stress measures, as a major objective of our Center is to promote a better understanding of social context as a modifier of chemical toxicants.
  • Maintaining and providing access to adult and pediatric health assessments that include self-reports, observational data, and performance based measures;
  • Assisting center members with rigorous and appropriate protocols to use when applying such measures in research studies
  • Keeping up with the literature to modify existing instruments where necessary
  • Advising on data analysis that includes psychometric analyses including the use of multiple phenotypes in a phenomic or true multivariate analysis.

The laboratory also has the capacity to assess a range of pulmonary function tests, and offers ambulatory equipment, which allows for onsite and offsite deployment. We have established protocols for neurobehavioral and neurocognitive tests that can be administered in the field as well as in this laboratory. Through the PEMFC, Center investigators have access to the Human Immune Monitoring Center (HIMC), which is focused on establishing methods for deep profiling of patient samples using polychromatic flow cytometry and immunogenomics.

This Core is based in the Department of Pediatrics and the Mindich Child Health and Development Institute (MCHDI) with additional Members from the Seaver Autism Center and the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute.

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