National $8.5 Million Grant Awarded to Mount Sinai Institute for Exposomics Research
Five-year award will continue research on early environmental exposures and its effects on health and development
The National Institute of Environmental Health Science (NIEHS) has awarded to two Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai entities—the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health and the new Institute for Exposomics Research—a five-year P30 Center grant totaling $8.45 million to fund infrastructure that supports research on early-life environmental exposures and their effects on health, disease, and development across the human lifespan.
The Mount Sinai Institute for Exposomic Research is the world’s first institute to focus on exposomics. Exposomics is defined as the health impact of all the exposures an individual experiences in a lifetime. An individual's exposome begins at conception and includes environmental, nutritional, social, physical, and occupational sources such as malnutrition, air pollution, social stressors and chemicals. Researchers at the Exposomics Institute will translate their findings into new strategies for prevention and treatment of diseases including autism, asthma, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), cancer, and chronic lung diseases that have an environmental component.
The grant will fund the work of institute researchers who will contribute to the growing number of NIH projects and programs dedicated to exposomics, including the Child Health Exposure Analysis Resource (CHEAR), the Environment and Child Health Outcomes (ECHO), and other studies focusing on environment and health.
“The creation of this Institute furthers Mount Sinai’s strong history as a leader in environmental health,” said Dennis S. Charney, MD, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and President for Academic Affairs, Mount Sinai Health System. “We see population health and prevention as the future of medicine. Understanding exposomics will give us the tools for prevention.”
The Institute will expand and integrate exposomics into research programs within multiple disciplines across the Mount Sinai Health System, including personalized medicine, cancer, women’s health, aging, immunology, and clinical trials.
“All diseases have both a genetic and an environmental component, but too often we focus solely on the genetics and never measure the environment,” said Robert Wright, MD, MPH, Chair of the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health and Director of the Institute for Exposomic Research. “The growth of exposomics as a science is important because genetics alone can’t explain why people get sick. Therefore, we have to start factoring in environment. Exposomics represents the biggest missing piece of the puzzle of health and disease. This NIEHS designation will bring us significant new infrastructure to bring exposomic innovations into precision medicine. Mount Sinai is leading the way in this exciting new field as evidenced by this new award.”
The NIEHS has awarded P30 Center grants to 21 institutions in the United States that are national leaders in research and clinical care in environmental health. The NIEHS core centers support multidisciplinary research in environmental health and exposomics. Eligible institutions must demonstrate significant existing NIH support for environmental research.
“With this award, the NIH recognizes the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and our new Exposomics Institute as one of the premier centers for research into the prevention and treatment of diseases,” said Rosalind Wright, MD, MPH, Dean for Translational Biomedical Research, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and the Institute’s Deputy Director. “This center allows us to look at the effects of environment and health throughout the lifespan and broadly defines environment to include chemical pollutants, social stressors, nutrition, and the physical environment. Our goal is to make exposomics something that is incorporated into virtually all research proposals; given the significant role that environment will have in future prevention and treatment strategies. Unlike genetics, we can change our environments to prevent or alter the course, development, and disease.”
About the Mount Sinai Health System
The Mount Sinai Health System is New York City's largest integrated delivery system, encompassing eight hospitals, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai's vision is to produce the safest care, the highest quality, the highest satisfaction, the best access and the best value of any health system in the nation. The Health System includes approximately 7,480 primary and specialty care physicians; 11 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 410 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. 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's "Honor Roll" Hospital, No. 12 in the nation for National Institutes of Health funding, and among the top 10 most innovative research institutions as ranked by the journal Nature in its Nature Innovation Index. This reflects a special level of excellence in education, clinical practice, and research. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked No. 14 on U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" of top U.S. hospitals; it is one of the nation's top 20 hospitals in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Gynecology, Nephrology, Neurology/Neurosurgery, and Orthopedics in the 2019-2020 "Best Hospitals" issue. Mount Sinai's Kravis Children's Hospital also is ranked nationally in five out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report. The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked 12th nationally for Ophthalmology, Mount Sinai St. Lukes and Mount Sinai West are ranked 23rd nationally for Nephrology and 25th for Diabetes/Endocrinology, and Mount Sinai South Nassau is ranked 35th nationally for Urology. Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai St. Luke's, Mount Sinai West, and Mount Sinai South Nassau are ranked regionally.