Southeastern Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit

Meet the Team

Welcome to the Southeastern Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (SEPEHSU). The SEPEHSU aims to improve the health of children in our region and to inform families, communities, and health care providers about environmental hazards, their health effects, and practical ways to protect our children's health.

SEPEHSU looks to reduce the risk of children, who naturally are at higher risk to environmental contaminants through exposure, by:

  • Providing environmental health education and training to health care professionals
  • Supporting families and community members through our consultation services
  • Providing the latest information on environmental health issues that is affecting children

SEPEHSU services Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee.

PEHSU's are typically based at university medical centers, and are located across the US, in Canada and Mexico. This network responds to requests for information and consultation on environmentally related health effects in children.

Meet the Team

Abby Mutic, PhD, MSN, CNM

Abby Mutic director of Southeast PEHSU, is a Certified Nurse Midwife and a current doctoral student in the school of nursing at Emory University. She has years of experience working with women and their families in clinic and hospital settings. Abby is currently studying environmental toxicants that disrupt normal gut bacteria and negatively influence maternal and fetal health. Endocrine disrupting chemicals are harmful in pregnancy, causing lifelong changes to a woman’s microbiome and neurological damage to the fetus. Abby focuses her work with the medical community in this area by investigating environmental health exposures to the fetus during pregnancy and the link to future poor health outcomes.

Claire D. Coles, PhD
PEHSU Faculty

Claire D. Coles, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, and Director of the Center for Maternal Substance Abuse and Child Development (MSACD) and Director of Mother2Baby. GA, a teratology information service that provides counseling and information to pregnant and breast feeding women, their partners and health care professionals about exposure to prescription and illicit drugs and well as a variety of environmental toxins. Dr. Coles’ research on the developmental and behavioral effects of prenatal exposure to alcohol and drugs and on the interaction of these effects with the postnatal environment began in 1980 and was among the first to describe many behavioral effects of prenatal alcohol exposure in infants, young children and adolescents as well as the effects on brain structure and function in young adults. Dr. Coles is principal investigator on a multi-site, long-term study of effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on adult health in middle age and a co-investigator on a prospective study of FASD in Ukraine. In 2019, Dr. Coles and her colleagues were awarded a HEALty Child Development Grant to initiate a study of effects of Prenatal Opiate exposure on the developing brain.

In 1995, Dr. Coles established the only multidisciplinary clinic in the Southeastern United States providing specialized services to individuals prenatally exposed to alcohol and other drugs, providing differential diagnosis and behavior evaluation, referral, psychotherapy and educational services. Dr. Coles and her colleagues have created two empirically validated, manualized treatment programs for alcohol and drug-affected children, MILE and GoFAR. Dr. Coles work has received national and international attention through the publication of numerous articles and books on these topics.

Melissa Halliday Gittinger, DO, FACMT
PEHSU Faculty

Melissa Halliday Gittinger, DO, FACMT is a medical toxicologist and emergency physician at Emory University School of Medicine and the Georgia Poison Center. In addition to serving on the southeast PEHSU, she serves as the assistant program director for the Emory and CDC combined fellowship in medical toxicology, practices emergency medicine at Grady Memorial Hospital, and directs the resident and student clerkship in medical toxicology at Emory University School of Medicine. She completed medical school at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, residency training at Indiana University in Indianapolis, Indiana and her fellowship in toxicology at Emory University. She is actively involved in the evaluation and management of patients with acute and chronic toxic exposures including environmental toxins.

Rebecca Pass Philipsborn, MD, MPA
PEHSU Faculty

Rebecca Pass Philipsborn, MD, MPA is a pediatrician at Emory University School of Medicine and Emory Global Health Institute. In addition to serving on the southeast PEHSU, she practices pediatrics at Hughes Spalding Primary Care Center, conducts research with the Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMPS) Network, and is Associate Director of Emory’s Global Health Track for pediatric residents. Her scholarly work focuses on better delineating causes of global child mortality in order to guide prevention efforts with CHAMPS and understanding the influence of climate change on child health and mortality—including disaster preparedness in pediatric healthcare delivery. She serves on the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change US Working Group and as the Georgia state climate advocate for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Before deciding to pursue a career in medicine, she worked in healthcare consulting and public health, including in maternal and child health and nutrition at the United Nations (UN) World Food Programme in West Africa. She completed medical school and residency training at Emory University, holds an MPA in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and an AB in English from Princeton University.

Leslie Isadore Rubin
PEHSU Faculty, Director of Break the Cycle Program

Nathan Mutic MS, MAT, Med
Project Manager

Nathan Mutic is the project manager for the SE PEHSU at the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. He is responsible for managing daily operations of the SE PEHSU. He is a founding member of the Children’s Environmental Health Social Media Workgroup which has worked to create and enhance capacity for a national network of environmental health researchers and clinicians to reach audiences on social media. He has been integrally involved in the development of community outreach and research translation programs, including the “Know Better Live Better” social impact campaign that was developed to get culturally meaningful environmental health content to African American women in Metro Atlanta. Nathan is a former high school teacher and is passionate about empowering youth through education. He volunteers as a peer reviewer for two secondary education science journals.

Informing our Community

The Southeast PEHSU aims to improve the health of children in our region and to inform families, communities, and health care providers about environmental hazards, their effects, and practical ways to protect our children's health

Facts about lead exposure in children


EPA Healthy Environments, Healthy Kids

Resource Guide on Children's Environmental Health

Developmental pediatrics: children and the environment

EPA Resources for educators

NIEHS Kids Pages


CDC Healthy Homes Initiative

Healthy Home action brochure

Poison-proof Your Home: One Room at a Time


Bisphenol A

Carbon Monoxide


Drinking Water Pollutants

Endocrine Disruptors

Indoor Air Pollutants



Outdoor Air Pollutants



Problem Drywall

Preventing Pests at Home (alternatives to pesticides)


Clear your home of asthma triggers (EPA website)

Pediatric Resources for Parents

Parent's Guide: Help your child gain control over asthma (CDC website)


Questions About Pesticides on Foods

Play it Safe: Reduce Your Child's Chances of Pesticide Poisoning

Phthalates in Food and Medical Devices. Provides information on potential adverse effects of a chemical found in plastics.


Resource Guide on Children's Environmental Health
This webpage provides extensive links to more information, indexed by topic, source, target audience, and geographic location.

Developmental pediatrics: children and the environment

Environmental Health Perspectives online journal
Search for (free) peer-reviewed journal articles on topics of environmental impacts on human health.

Lead and PCBs: A toxic legacy in Anniston, AL


Guidance for clinicians on the recognition and management of health effects related to mold exposure and moisture indoors.

Environmental factors in pediatric respiratory disease

Childhood Asthma information and contacts

Informing Our Professionals

The Southeast PEHSU aims to improve the health of children in our region and to inform families, communities, and health care providers about environmental hazards, their effects, and practical ways to protect our children's health




 •  Prenatal Exposures and Low Birthweight

 •  The Pediatric Approach to Infants Born with Zika and their Families

 •  Social and Cultural Determinants of Developmental Disabilities

 •  Social Determinants of Children’s Physical and Mental Health Disparities Les

 •  Prenatal Factors and Pregnancy Outcomes: Role of the Pediatrician

Education and Training

COVID-19 ECHO Seminar

Southeast Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit at Emory University, is recruiting school nurses to join a 3-month learning collaborative aimed at educating and supporting school nurses and school based health care providers on the issues surrounding cleaning and disinfecting during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is especially relevant as children return to school with an increased potential for exposure to cleaning and disinfecting products.  

Participants will engage in the Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) model. Project ECHO® (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) is an innovative hub and spoke program, designed to create knowledge networks by connecting health care providers with an expert team through a tele-mentoring program using brief lectures and case-based presentations. These networks have been shown to increase capacity for health care providers to identify, treat, and manage patient care. Using case-based learning, health care providers develop knowledge and self-efficacy on techniques for management of care and quality improvement. A one-hour ECHO session consists of a short lecture (10-15 minutes) followed by a case presentation (5 minutes) and discussion. More information about ECHO may be found at

All ECHO sessions occur virtually using Zoom video conference technology. Participants are expected to join using video as this makes for a more interactive and impactful session. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Participants will be accepted on a first come first served basis. We will be limiting this series to 20 participants due to the time constraints of case presentations. We will have an active waitlist so please add your name if the course is full and you will be contacted if you are able to join. Please note that the benefit of the ECHO model is to exchange information with colleagues over the course of the six sessions. Accordingly, we request that individuals only register if they are able to attend at least five of the six sessions.  

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  1. Increase their knowledge around safer cleaning and disinfecting practices in school-based settings.  
  1. Understand potential health effects in children of exposure to disinfecting and cleaning chemicals.  

Additional benefits of participating:

  1. Network and problem solve with other school based healthcare providers and nurses
  1. Better serve as a resource for your school on the health effects of cleaning and disinfecting products.  

3. Participants will earn a $100 stipend for completing all six sessions and lunch voucher provided at each session for participation.


  • July 7th registration deadline  
  • July – September 6 ECHO sessions
  • September Complete post ECHO evaluation

Topics by Date

All sessions take place noon-1 p.m. EST.

  • July 14: “The COVID-19 Pandemic: Good and Bad, but Mostly Bad”
  • July 28: “Introduction to Environmental Exposure Vulnerability in Children; Respiratory Exposure Risks,Signs and Symptoms”
  • August 11: “Cleaning vs disinfecting: The basics”
  • August 25: “Safer and More effective cleaning and disinfecting practices”
  • September: “Ventilation in Schools for Health”
  • September 22: “Talking Points and Take-home Messages for Students and Families”


  • Melissa Gittinger, DO
  • Rebecca Philipsborn, MD, MPA
  • Laura Anderko, PhD, RN
  • Victoria Leonard, PhD, RN
  • Mark Anderson, MD
  • Henry Sack, BS
  • Jason Marshall, PhD


For additional information contact Nathan Mutic at

Contact Us

Phone: (877) 33PEHSU or (877) 337-3478
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