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PhD Track in Exposure Sciences and Environmental Epidemiology

Track in Toxicology, Physiology & Molecular Mechanisms

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Application Deadline
December 1


Katie Phipps, MSEd

Globally, chronic diseases such as COPD, asthma, cancer, pulmonary fibrosis and cardiovascular diseases are major causes of morbidity and mortality, and environmental exposures are the key drivers of these diseases.

The basic research within the Toxicology, Physiology & Molecular Mechanisms (TPMM) track is focused on discovering novel molecular mechanisms that drive the pathophysiology of major chronic diseases to develop prevention and therapeutic strategies to improve public health. The program is supported by the NIEHS and NHLBI graduate and postdoctoral research training grant.

Graduate students in TPMM engage in academic training in specific areas of environmental health with in-depth courses in molecular, toxicologic, physiologic, immunologic, and pathophysiologic sciences. Prior to focusing on a specific area of thesis research, they will also obtain a broad background in the environmental health sciences by taking core courses that underlie the scientific basis of environmental health, including epidemiology, biostatistics, and risk sciences. During the first year, students will begin to engage in ongoing faculty research by doing lab rotations with research faculty. Training in writing scientific papers and grant proposals is also included in the curriculum.  

In addition to predoctoral training, there are also excellent opportunities for postdoctoral research training in this program. Postdoctoral fellows are focused on their research, in addition to active participation in journal clubs and seminars. Students are also able to take courses to enhance their knowledge in environmental health.  

The essential knowledge gained from laboratory-based mechanistic studies on the adverse human health effects of environmental agents can be applied to a variety of endpoints, including identification of susceptibility factors, genetics, epigenetics, microbiome, identification and use of biomarkers of early adverse effects, biologically effective doses of chemicals, and novel approaches for effective preventive interventions and treatment of chronic diseases. 

The research done by graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty has led directly to an enhanced understanding of the molecular, cellular, biochemical, pathobiological, and physiological changes that represent early stages and progression of many chronic diseases. The TPMM track is aimed towards creating the next generation of scientists with laboratory skills to tackle complex environmental effects on healthy and diseased subjects. Graduates can look forward to successful careers in academic or industrial research and government or regulatory agencies.

TPMM Track Faculty

(Note: Faculty in bold are currently accepting PhD students)