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Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center

Sponsored by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

$3.1M Funding
15 People

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The Strategic Vision of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center (SWEHSC) is to facilitate andimplement innovative research and community engagement aimed at understanding the mechanisms underlyingenvironmental health (EHS) risks and disease among people living in arid environments undergoing climatechange. Importantly the SWEHSC strategic vision supports our long-term goal of uniting interdisciplinaryscientists to study environmental effects on the health and well-being of unique populations in the SouthwestUS including Native American Latinx and rural communities. Because the unique conditions of the arid desertSouthwest environment mirror those of many other global desert climates the interdisciplinary researchconducted by the SWEHSC could also improve the lives of the 2.1 billion people globally who live in arid lands.As climate change increases the burden on human health through water and respiratory exposures due todrought wildfires and decreasing water supply the arid Southwest serves as the proverbial `canary in the coalmine' for the resulting health effects. Specifically research within the SWEHSC focuses on 1) routes of exposurein arid environments including exposure to groundwater contaminants and inhalation 2) the adverse healthoutcomes following inhalation of air pollutants and 3) the molecular pathways of adaptive responses toenvironmental exposures such as arsenic and ultraviolet light. If climate change is not reversed the EHS factorsprevalent in the desert Southwest will forecast the future concerns of much of the rest of the US. Accordinglyour mission impacts not only the health and well-being of the arid Southwest populations but also the billions ofpeople across the planet affected by climate change.The SWEHSC will continue to improve the health of people in arid lands by developing rational approaches toidentifying and mitigating hazardous environmental exposures. The geographic location of the SWEHSC withits large Latinx Native American and rural communities provides unique research opportunities to identify andaddress basic environmental health hazards that impact these populations. Moreover strengthening tiesbetween SWEHSC faculty and academic and governmental agencies in Mexico enables impactful binationalEHS initiatives with the tangible ability to improve public health along the US-Mexico border and for broadtranslation to global stakeholders.