• Press Release

Mount Sinai CEHC Hosts Decade of the Developing Brain Symposium

  • New York, NY
  • (February 24, 2017)

{View the webcast here: Part 1 and Part 2}

The Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center (CEHC) hosted its 10th Annual Winter Symposium: Decade of the Developing Brain on Friday, February 24, 2017 at the New York Academy of Medicine. The annual symposium is an opportunity for researchers, physicians, and parents to learn from environmental health experts about cutting-edge research and how it impacts children’s health. 

This year’s symposium focused on the environmental impacts on neurodevelopment and long-term health outcomes with presentations from Icahn School of Medicine faculty Avi Reichenberg, PhD, Professor of Environmental Medicine and Public Health; Rosalind Wright, MD, MPH, Dean for Translational Biomedical Research and Professor of Pediatrics, Environmental Medicine and Public Health, and Medicine; Manish Arora, BDS, MPH, PhD, Vice Chair of the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health and Director of Exposure Biology at The Senator Frank R. Lautenberg Environmental Health Sciences Laboratory; and Harvard Medical School’s David Bellinger, PhD, Professor of Neurology and Psychology. Dr. Bellinger has authored more than 350 papers and serves as Editor-in-Chief of Toxics, and is currently the President of the International Society for Children’s Health and the Environment. 

Robert Wright, MD, MPH, Chair of the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health and CEHC Director opened the conference which was moderated by Maida Galvez, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Environmental Medicine and Public Health and Pediatrics, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Shevon Skinner, RN, MSN, MPH, Director of Patient Services, Little Sisters of the Assumption (LSA) Family Health Service Inc. There were over 140 attendees.

“The CEHC does invaluable work in determining environmental causes of childhood diseases,” says Dr. Robert Wright. “Through the work being done by the Center and the Lautenberg Lab we have made progress in understanding the environmental origins of conditions we are seeing in our community and medical clinics and informing the public on the role of environmental risk factors in shaping children’s health.”

Research shows that environmental exposures have significant impact on neurodevelopment and health outcomes; however often environmental exposures are not taken into account in neurodevelopment studies. Dr. Bellinger noted that environmental chemical exposures are underestimated in traditional methods of determining global burden of disease, and that population-level studies may better represent the true risks.

Autism spectrum disorder is a group of neurodevelopmental conditions that is characterized by repetitive behaviors and difficulties in social interaction. Often considered a genetic disorder first seen in children, the symposium covered the contribution of environmental factors. Dr. Reichenberg presented on how the environment combined with genetics influence autism risk, and Dr. Rosalind Wright discussed how maternal stress during the prenatal period can impact infant behavior.  Dr. Arora discussed how innovative technologies at The Senator Frank R. Lautenberg Environmental Health Science Laboratory, such as using unconventional biomarkers like baby teeth,  are helping to determine early life exposures. 

Recently, researchers from the CEHC have been awarded more than $9 million by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to investigate the effects of a broad range of environmental exposures on children’s long-term health from near the time of conception through adolescence.  The grant is part of a seven-year, multi-institute initiative called Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO). Additionally, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai was awarded a further grant under the NIH’s Children’s Health Exposure Analysis Resource (CHEAR), which is designed to provide laboratory resources and other infrastructure to analyze samples, data, and other information collected through ECHO. 

“We are very excited to be involved with the ECHO and CHEAR programs,” said Dr. Rosalind Wright. “Learning how social toxins and chemicals in our environment affect child health is vital and will help us identify how to best protect children everywhere.” 

This year is the 10th anniversary of the CEHC, a Center of Excellence at the Icahn School of Medicine that is dedicated to identifying the environmental causes of childhood diseases. The CEHC follows a transdisciplinary model to determine environmental origins of disease, and is home to The Senator Frank R. Lautenberg Environmental Health Sciences Laboratory. The CEHC is a part of the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at Mount Sinai, whose mission it is to promote good health, prevent disease, and protect the environment in the many communities that the Mount Sinai Health System serves through a focus on community health, epidemiology, environmental pediatrics, and preventive and occupational medicine. 

About the Mount Sinai Health System

The Mount Sinai Health System is New York City's largest academic medical system, encompassing eight hospitals, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai advances medicine and health through unrivaled education and translational research and discovery to deliver care that is the safest, highest-quality, most accessible and equitable, and the best value of any health system in the nation. The Health System includes approximately 7,300 primary and specialty care physicians; 13 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 415 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and more than 30 affiliated community health centers. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked on U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" of the top 20 U.S. hospitals and is top in the nation by specialty: No. 1 in Geriatrics and top 20 in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Neurology/Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Pulmonology/Lung Surgery, Rehabilitation, and Urology. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked No. 12 in Ophthalmology. Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital is ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Children’s Hospitals” among the country’s best in four out of 10 pediatric specialties. The Icahn School of Medicine is one of three medical schools that have earned distinction by multiple indicators: ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report's "Best Medical Schools," aligned with a U.S. News & World Report "Honor Roll" Hospital, and No. 14 in the nation for National Institutes of Health funding. Newsweek’s “The World’s Best Smart Hospitals” ranks The Mount Sinai Hospital as No. 1 in New York and in the top five globally, and Mount Sinai Morningside in the top 20 globally.

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