Pediatric and Reproductive Environmental Health Scholars (PREHS) Southeastern Environmental Exposures and Disparities (SEED) Program -- K12


A five-year, multimillion-dollar grant awarded December 2021 that allows Emory University and Morehouse School of Medicine to develop a research training program for clinical faculty to evaluate environmental health exposures and disparities to improve health equity.


The Pediatric and Reproductive Environmental Health Scholars-Southeastern Environmental Exposures and Disparities (PREHS-SEED) mentored K12 career development program will provide junior clinical faculty from Emory School of Nursing and School of Medicine and Morehouse School of Medicine with comprehensive training in pediatric and reproductive environmental health research. Faculty scholars will collaborate with local community partners and the Region 4 PEHSU — a region burdened by systemic racism and increasing climate change-related environmental threats that intensify health disparities. Faculty scholars will conduct research to assess environmental health exposures and disparities to improve health equity and safeguard the health of at-risk women and children in the Southeastern United States.

The PREHS-SEED Program builds capacity for dynamic and innovative academic and community partnerships:

  • Documenting the burden of environmental health disparities, particularly among Black, Latinx and immigrant/refugee women and children
  • Engaging in community-based participatory research that partners with local community organizations
  • Addressing solutions to adapt and mitigate to high heat and other weather events related to climate change which disproportionately affects low-income communities

Program Aims

  • Develop a research training program that produces leaders in pediatric and reproductive environmental health disparities research  
  • Enhance existing infrastructure for individualized didactic training in research methodology as they relate to pediatric and reproductive environmental health  
  • Identify and recruit a diverse cohort of promising scholars dedicated to careers in pediatric and reproductive environmental health research from Emory and MSM
  • Expand existing multidisciplinary career development programs with mentorship from accomplished environmental health scientists

Scholarship Program


  • Recruit a diverse pool of junior faculty with a doctorate (MD, PhD, MD/PhD, PharmD, or equivalent) at the rank of Instructor or Assistant Professor at Emory, Morehouse School of Medicine.  
  • Focus on the integration of environmental health research into clinical research  
  • Create a space for a growing pool of early-stage investigators who are interested in pediatric and women’s reproductive health, foci often under-prioritized in career development funding mechanisms and other programs.  
  • Support and facilitate career development of assistant-level clinician faculty to transition to independent research careers through advanced support mechanisms, e.g., NIH-funded K08 and K23 grant awards.

Program Applications/Details

  • Program Application Deadline: February 1, 2024 - 5 p.m. (EST)

Application materials include:

Cover Page

Click here to download our application cover page.

Cover Letter

Should include your rank (e.g. Instructor, Assistant Professor, etc.), the name of your lead mentor, and a description of why you are interested in pursuing a career in reproductive and pediatric environmental health research. You should also indicate that you do not have any pending applications for NIH PHS mentored career development awards. You should state that if accepted into the program that you will:

  • Agree to the rules of the PREHS-SEED program
  • Meet with the Program Director once every six months
  • Submit semi-annual progress reports
  • Keep the program office updated on publications and grant submissions/awards during AND AFTER completion of the program
  • Submit a NIH K-application during your first/second year of support (e.g. K01, K08,K23)
  • Agree to serve on the faculty of an academic institution for each year of support received


  • 30 lines maximum
  • Provide an abstract of the entire application (candidate, environment, and research)
  • Include the candidate's immediate and long-term career goals, key elements of the research career development plan, and a description of the research project
  • In the SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide, section 7, there are specific instructions for a K Abstract

Research and Training Plan (13 pages total)

Individualized career development plan, including:

  • Specific Aims (1 Page)  
  • Research Strategy and Candidate Section (12 pages)

Research Strategy

  • Significance, Innovation and Approach  
  • Approach section will include methods – including human subjects recruitment, statistical analysis plan, anticipated outcomes, potential pitfalls and alternative approaches, and timeline subsections
  • Hypothesis driven research proposal focusing on pediatric and reproductive environmental health research that is developed under the guidance of their lead mentor. Research strategy should include plans for didactic and mentored environmental health research training.  Pilot studies are acceptable.

Candidate Section

  • Should indicate the candidate’s background and career goals and should also describe the faculty member who will serve as the lead mentor as well as a planned schedule of interactions between the trainee lead mentor and mentoring team (be specific and indicate frequency of meetings, types of interactions, etc.)
  • The Career Development Training Activities should provide a clear description of the didactic training that is planned

Outline of proposed coursework should include courses that will prepare the applicant to conduct the proposed research, such as:

  • RSPH Certificate in Climate Change    
  • Foundations of Exposure Science (EH 510)
  • Air Quality in the Urban Environment (EH 515)
  • Human Toxicology (EH 520)
  • Risk Assessment (EH 524)
  • Biomarkers and Environmental Public Health (EH 527)
  • Sustainability (EH 543)
  • Environmental Health Law and Policy (EH 570)
  • Built Environment and Public Health (EH 584)
  • Advanced Seminar in Climate Change and Health: Research and Policy (EH 586)
  • Introduction to Satellite Remote Sensing of the Environment and its Applications to Public Health (EH 587)
  • Environmental Justice: Theory and Public Health Practice (EH 572)
  • R-based qualitative Data Analysis for Environmental Health Researchers (EH 590R)
  • Planetary Health (EH 590R)
  • Public Health Communication for Environmental Justice (EH 590R)
  • Data Analysis in Environmental Health (EH 593R)

Human Subjects/Data Safety and Monitoring Plan

Not counted towards the 12-page limit should be included, if applicable. Please follow the NIH SF 424 Application Guide section for the Protection of Human Subjects. IRB approval for the research is not required at the time of application but will be required prior to funding. Another good resource for preparing this section (for all areas of human subjects research) can be found here.

Training in the Responsible Conduct of Research Plan

  • Literature Citations: Please include a typical literature citation section at the end of the Research Strategy (not included in the page limit)
  • NIH Budget (template) $25,000/per year for research and educational expenses
  • Academic mentors’ letters of support describing how the applicant’s research will fit the PREHS-SEED program and a budget justification of no more than two pages. Do not include items not allowed on Federal Grants such as software, books, and administrative support staff (ask if uncertain).
  • Letters of reference from 3-5 referees, including Chair or Dean acknowledging protected time equivalent to the salary support provided by the program if accepted into the K12 program ($110,000; salaries plus fringe benefits; a minimum of 75% of full-time professional effort)
  • NIH Biosketch (template)      
  • Other Support page for applicant and mentor(s)



Collaborating Programs

^ Emory University, Morehouse University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Georgia); Emory University’s Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH).

Funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (K12ES033593)

PREHS Scholars

Liliana Aguayo

Liliana Aguayo, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor -Clinical Research Track
Hubert Department of Global Health
Emory Global Diabetes Research Center
Rollins School of Public Health

Dr. Aguayo investigates the childhood origins of disparities in cardiovascular disease (CVD). She uses her transdisciplinary training to focus on better understanding the underlying mechanisms through which protective and resilience-promoting factors can limit the negative influence of the social determinants of health, from the origins of life. She believes research on resilience in early life holds promise to guide clinical and policy strategies to reduce CVD disparities across the lifespan. To this end, she applies a life-course approach and an intersectionality framework to identify protective factors that could limit the intergenerational transmission of CVD as a strategy to reduce disparities in obesity and CVD.

Carmen Dickinson-Copeland

Carmen Dickinson-Copeland, PhD, MSCR
Assistant Professor
Department of Microbiology, Biochemistry and Immunology
Morehouse School of Medicine

Dr. Carmen Dickinson-Copeland is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Biochemistry, and Immunology at Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM). She received her dual master’s in Clinical Research and Ph.D. in Biomedical Research from MSM in 2016. Carmen’s lab aims to improve health outcomes in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities through Multidisciplinary Translational Team Science. Since taking her faculty position in 2018, she has been awarded a GA CTSA KL2 mentored research scholar grant, an NIH Loan Repayment Program award (NIEHS), and the MSM RCMI U54 Pilot Award (NIMHD). These early career development opportunities have been foundational to her goal of research independence.

Dr. Dickinson-Copeland’s PREHS K12 research will focus on the “Application of a Machine Learning platform to identify Georgia Children at Risk for Low-Level Lead Exposure.” This body of work is a translation of her previous observational studies. It aims to formalize the risks that account for the distribution of sub-clinical lead exposures in children within the metro Atlanta area.

Carmen’s long-term goal is to develop a career that bridges the gap between biomedical science and health policy research.

Belise Livingston-Burns, MD, MPH

Belise Livingston-Burns, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor Department of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine
Medical Director of the Primary Care Clinic at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Hughes Spalding Hospital

As a National Health Service Corps Scholar, Dr. Belise Livingston-Burns spent her early career at a large federally qualified health center in Albany, GA. It was there that she learned the power of collaborative partnerships between healthcare systems and community stakeholders. Recognizing the importance of addressing the social determinants of health in primary care, her research studies the impact of environmental factors on pediatric health and well-being. Dr. LivingstonBurns’ PREHS K12 research will focus on the design and implementation of effective public health strategies to improve health disparities. Her project, “Just Water: Water Trust and Consumption Patterns for Child Health,” evaluates how drinking water preferences affect behaviors linked to pediatric health outcomes.

Nasim Katebi, PhD

Nasim Katebi, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Informatics, Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics and Global Health at Emory University

Dr. Nasim Katebi’s research focus is developing AI, modeling and engineering methods to quantify fetalmaternal physiology and improving health monitoring in pregnancy and postpartum for underrepresented populations. Dr. Katebi is also a research scientist in the center for indigenous health studies at Wuqu' Kawoq | Maya Health Alliance. Her work focuses on developing edge computing and machine learning models to accurately detect and predict cardiovascular complications in pregnancy. Dr. Katebi devotes her time to investigating health disparities in maternal health and identifying individual, healthcare, and environmental factors that contribute to pregnancy-related complications. This includes delayed and fragmented care, social determinants of health, and race related health disparities.

Leadership/Team Members

Dr. Lisa Thompson (Program Director), Associate Professor in Emory’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing (NHWSN) will work together with Dr. Rebecca Philipsborn (Scholars Director), an Assistant Professor in Emory’s Department of Pediatrics, and Dr. Abby Mutic, an Assistant Professor and certified midwife in NHWSN and the Program Director of the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units (PEHSU), Region 4. Together they will leverage the expertise of environmental health researchers at the Rollins School of Public Health to develop this transdisciplinary program.

Click here to view the Advisory Committee

Lisa Thompson PREHS
Program Director
Lisa Thompson PREHS

Associate Professor
Director of Graduate Studies, Emory’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing and Department of Environmental Health in the Rollins School of Public Health

Faculty Profile

Rebecca Philipsborn
Scholars Director
Rebecca Philipsborn

Assistant Professor
Emory’s Department of Pediatrics and Department of Environmental Health in the Rollins School of Public Health

Abby Mutic
Program Director, Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units (PEHSU) Region 4
Abby Mutic

Assistant Professor
Certified Midwife

Heran Biza
Research Project Coordinator
Heran Biza