C-CHEM²

Researchers at the Center for Children’s Health, the Environment, the Microbiome, and Metabolomics (C-CHEM2) conduct research to understand the complex interactions among components of the prenatal and postnatal environment — toxicant exposures, the microbiome, and the metabolome — and their impacts on birth outcomes and infant health and neurodevelopment.

When a woman is pregnant, everything from the food she eats to the air she breathes affects her health and that of her child. From the moment that child is born, the bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms they encounter influence the development of their microbiome—the community of bacteria inside and on their bodies—which in turn affects everything from how often they get sick to whether they grow up to develop depression. Recent studies have shown that children delivered by C-section are more likely to develop asthma than their peers because initial exposure to bacteria and other microbes in the birth canal during childbirth are essential for immune system development.

About

Researchers at the Center for Children’s Health, the Environment, the Microbiome, and Metabolomics (C-CHEM2) conduct research to understand the complex interactions among components of the prenatal and postnatal environment — toxicant exposures, the microbiome, and the metabolome — and their impacts on birth outcomes and infant health and neurodevelopment. The human microbiome is representative of microbial organisms that reside in the gut, while the metabolome represents the collection of metabolites and small molecules found in the bodily tissues, organs, and cells.

Environmental exposures among residents of the urban Southeast are likely distinctive from people in other parts of the United States; however, no studies have characterized exposures among minorities within this region from birth. C-CHEM2 leverages data and samples from a newly funded cohort of more than 800 African American women and their children living in metropolitan Atlanta to investigate how behavioral factors and the microbiome impact preterm birth and how epigenetics and genetics affect the microbiomes of study participants. The center also leverages rich datasets and resources within the NIEHS-funded Human Exposome Research Center: Understanding Lifetime Exposures (HERCULES) at Emory, and an interdisciplinary team of scientists with expertise in environmental health, neurodevelopment, maternal-child health, and preventive medicine.

Purpose:

  1. Characterize the environmental exposures of 300 pregnant African American women and their infants living in the metro Atlanta community.
  2. Characterize the associations between environmental exposures, the infant microbiome, and infant neurodevelopment.
  3. Ensure effective translation of center discoveries into sustainable strategies to reduce environmental exposures that negatively impact the microbiome and subsequent fetal/infant neurodevelopment.
  4. The purpose of the Community Outreach and Translation core (COTC) is to share existing children’s environmental health knowledge, as well as emerging research – with African American women and families in the Atlanta metropolitan area. This is achieved through an integrative approach in which community partners, COTC staff, and research scientists inform each other on how and what environmental health concerns are relevant, accessible and culturally appropriate.

The Center for Children’s Health, the Environment, the Microbiome, and Metabolomics (C-CHEM2 ) at Emory University is working to improve children’s health and reduce health disparities by better understanding how environmental exposures during and after pregnancy affect African American women and their children in Atlanta. The center, the first of its kind in the Southeast, brings together the expertise of four Emory University schools and aims to explore how environmental exposures prior to conception, during prenatal development, and postnatally may affect infant health and development. C-CHEM2 is a collaboration between the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory College of Arts and Sciences, and Emory School of Medicine. The School of Nursing was awarded over $5 million from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish a children’s environmental health center. The grant is the largest National Institutes of Health grant ever received by the school.

Project CHERUB

Characterizing Exposures and Outcomes in an Urban Birth Cohort

Goals

  1. Characterize pre- and postnatal environmental exposures of AA mother-infant pairs in metropolitan Atlanta
  2. Investigate the independent and interactive effects of prenatal chemical exposures upon the composition of the maternal microbiome for pregnant AA women in metropolitan Atlanta.
  3. Investigate the independent and interactive effects of prenatal chemical exposures upon birth outcomes for pregnant AA women in metropolitan Atlanta.

Research Team

  • Dr. Dana Barr, Project Lead
  • Dr. Anne Dunlop, Co-Project Lead -- Dr. Dunlop studies factors that contribute to preterm birth and, specifically, to factors that contribute to the excess rates of preterm birth among African American women compared to US women of other races and ethnicities.  This work is critical to understanding and intervening to reduce racial disparities in this critical birth outcome that contributes to intergenerational disadvantage.
  • Dr. P. Barry Ryan, Project Co-Investigator
  • Pria D’Souza, Project Coordinator

Project MEND

Microbiome, Environment, and Neurodevelopmental Delay

Goals

  1. Characterize the relationship between prenatal and postnatal environmental exposures and the infant gut microbiome across the first year of life.
  2. Evaluate the associations among prenatal and postnatal toxicant exposures, the infant gut microbiome, maternal caregiving, and infant neurocognitive and social-emotional development.

Research Team

  • Dr. Jeannie Rodriguez, Project Lead
  • Dr. Patty Brennan, Co-Project Lead --  Dr. Brennan studies perinatal risk factors and their association with child cognitive, emotional, and behavioral development.  Through her research she hopes to  inform early intervention strategies that will reduce risk and increase resilience in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.
  • Dr. Subra Kugathasan, Project Co-Investigator
  • Dr. Jennifer Mulle, Project Co-Investigator

Program MATRIX

Metabolic, Microbiome, and Toxicant-Associated Interactions

Goals

  1. Identify maternal prenatal metabolic pathways and metabolite-microbiome correlations that link environmental exposures and preterm birth.
  2. Identify maternal prenatal metabolic pathways and metabolite-microbiome correlations that link environmental exposures and infant neurodevelopment.
  3. Identify infant postnatal metabolic pathways and metabolite-microbiome correlations that link environmental exposures and infant neurodevelopment.

Research Team

  • Dr. Dean Jones, Project Lead
  • Dr. Betsy Corwin, Co-Project Lead -- Dr. Corwin studies the underlying biobehaviora l mechanisms that contribute to adverse maternal and infant outcomes, including chronic stress and inflammation, the role of the microbiome, and the metabolomics pathways involved.. This work is critical to our understanding-- and thus eliminating -- the health disparities in preterm birth and childhood health that plague African American families and our nation. .
  • Dr. Shuzhao Li, Project Co-Investigator

C-CHEM² Presents

Know Better Live Better

We all come into contact with chemicals (aka toxicants) every day through what we eat, breathe, through our skin, and from pregnant moms to their babies.  Once these toxicants enter our bodies they can cause harm and over time, lead to disease.

Studies have shown that by making little changes in everyday living we can make BIG changes in our health over time. We want YOU to know better and live better.

Check out our Know Better Live Better page.

Resources

C-CHEM² RESOURCES

COMMUNITY GRANTS

Community Mini-Grants

The C-CHEM2 community mini-grant program provides funding to organizations that aim to conduct outreach, promote community awareness of local environmental health concerns, or collect information needed to address local environmental and maternal child health concerns in Dekalb and Fulton counties of the Atlanta region.

We are currently accepting mini-grant applications.

Leadership

Admin Core:

  • Linda McCauley, Dual PI
  • P. Barry Ryan, Dual PI
  • Anne Dunlop, Health Specialist
  • Vicki Hertzberg, Center Statistician
  • Nathan Mutic, Center Administrator

Project Leaders:

  • Dr. Dana Barr, CHERUB Project Lead
  • Dr. Anne Dunlop, CHERUB Co-Project Lead
  • Dr. Jeannie Rodriguez, MEND Project Lead
  • Dr. Patty Brennan, MEND Co-Project Lead
  • Dr. Dean Jones, MATRIX Project Lead
  • Dr. Betsy Corwin, MATRIX Co-Project Lead
  • Dr. Maeve Howett, COTC Core-Lead

External Advisory Board Members:

Health Advisory Board Members:

Stakeholder Advisory Board:

  • Andrea Serano
  • Aneeqah Ferguson
  • Angela Coaxum-Young
  • Natasha Worthy
  • Natalie Fields
  • D. Makeda Johnson
  • David Branch
  • Tenesha Sellers
  • Taneeka Hinds
  • Emily Holland
  • Camisha Mohammed
  • Monica Robinson
  • JoVana Johnson-Cooke

Contact Us

Contact us

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Address

17 Executive Park Drive NE, Suite 650 Atlanta, GA 30329-222

Office hours

8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. ET

Contact information

Office: 404.778.4067
Fax: 404.778.4778
Email: enpdc@emory.edu