PHILADELPHIA – The National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has renewed its funding to the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine’s Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology (CEET).

The new grant totals over $8.3 million and extends CEET’s mandate through March 2015. CEET was established in 2004 with a four-year, $4.1 million grant from NIEHS to study the effects of environmental pollutants on human health.

CEET ( represents a partnership between research scientists and communities in southeastern Pennsylvania to improve environmental health and medicine in the region. Its mission is to understand the mechanism by which environmental exposures lead to disease. Understanding these processes can lead to early diagnosis, intervention, and prevention strategies. The Penn CEET is one of only 17 designated Environmental Health Science Core Centers in the United States and the first in Pennsylvania.

“CEET is now fully funded to extend studies on how environmental agents, including cigarette smoke, ozone, endocrine disrupting chemicals, and carcinogens cause disease, and to translate these findings to improve environmental health. Its goal is to accomplish this through personalized approaches including the predictive power of genotyping and biomarkers of exposure and response,” says CEET director Trevor Penning, PhD, Professor of Pharmacology, Biochemistry & Biophysics and OB/GYN.

In the initial four years of funding the CEET has made several major accomplishments towards its mission:

  • Identified a panel of biomarkers that can determine individual exposure and adverse response to cigarette smoke.
  • Identified novel lipid mediators of ozone-exacerbated asthma.
  • Shown that carcinogens present in tobacco smoke cause oxidative damage of DNA, leading to mutation of tumor-suppressor genes.
  • Initiated a multi-site consortium to study gene-environment interactions in lung cancer.
  • Identified individual genetic variation responsible for low-folate, high- homocysteine levels that has been linked to neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
  • Won the prestigious Annual Community-Campus Partnerships for Health Award for its Community-Based Participatory research on exposure to the endocrine-disrupting chemical perfluoroctanoate, which led to the replacement of contaminated water in the Little-Hocking Water district in Ohio.
  • Established the TREES (Teen Research in  and Education in Environmental Science) program for high school student interns.


Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $5.3 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 18 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $373 million awarded in the 2015 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center -- which are recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report -- Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2015, Penn Medicine provided $253.3 million to benefit our community.

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