PHILADELPHIA — Penn's Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology (CEET), is part of a consortium that has been awarded $7.85 million from National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to determine seafood safety following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The consortium is led by the Environmental Health Sciences Core Centers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB).

Edward Emmett, MD, professor of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, will co-lead the Community Based Participatory Based Research Project (CBPR) and the Community Outreach and Dissemination Core (CODC). Emmett is an authority on the principles and practices that underlie the CBPR approach and will use this to translate possible human health concerns from the oil spill to affected communities. Trevor Penning, PhD, CEET director, will co-lead the project's investigation on the toxicological properties of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from the oil, and will focus on how they are metabolized and whether they mutate DNA, which could lead to cancer and birth defects.

"As soon as CEET learned of the Gulf oil spill, we had an immediate concern about the safety of seafood since potentially carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from the oil could bioaccumlate in shellfish and enter the food chain. The vicinity of UTMB to the oil-spill coupled with our unique expertise in studying PAH toxicology provides a strong foundation for this inter-center collaboration," says Penning. "What is remarkable is that we know very little about the toxicology of PAH from oil and how these agents may affect human health."

Results of the study will help shape monitoring programs for the health of exposed individuals and can be applied to studying the health effects of oil spills in the future. For more information, please read the NIEHS award news release. Investigators from other universities are also participating in the Gulf Coast Health Alliance: Health Risks related to the Macondo Spill (GC-HARMS) consortium: Texas A&M University at Galveston, Louisiana State University and the University of Arizona. Community groups involved at primary research sites include southeast Louisiana's United Houma Nation; the Mississippi Coalition for Vietnamese American Fisherfolk and Families; and the Center for Environmental and Economic Justice, based in Biloxi, Miss.


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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