---- Environmental Exposures and Children Health
A. Introduction of the Team
Academic Leader: Prof. XU Shunqing
Tenured professor of Occupational and Environmental Health, the Deputy Dean of School of Public Health, Changjiang Distinguished Professor, member of New Century Excellent Talents Project, winner of State Council Expert for Special Allowance and Principal Investigator (PI) of a Key Project of National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC). He graduated from Hunan Medical College in 1988 and gained his bachelor degree of Preventive Medicine and received his PhD in 1993 at Tongji Medical College. Dr. Xu’s research is mainly focused on the mechanisms of environmental pollution on human health and relevant bio+markers. Currently, he is leading a Key Project of NSCF to investigate the risks and influences of developmental programming of metabolic diseases induced by embryonic exposure to environmental endocrine disruptors and serving as PI of the Healthy Baby Cohort (HBC), a prospective prenatal cohort study in Wuhan, China. Dr. Xu has published over 100 original papers which published in SCI-collected journals including Lancet Planet Health, Environ Health Perspect, Environ Int, Environ Sci Technol, and Diabetologia. Dr. Xu is the recipient of the Provincial and Ministry of Education Science and Technology Progress Award for many times.
Prof. Dr. LI Yuanyuan, Professor of Environmental Health, research interest focuses on the effects of environmental exposures on pregnancy-induced diseases and children development and the corresponding mechanisms, coordinate of a key project to investigate the risks and influences of the blood pressure of pregnant women and hypertensive disorders in pregnancy induced by atmospheric pollution, published 30+ original papers in SCI-collected journals.
Prof. Dr. XIA Wei, associate professor of Environmental Health, principal investigator of a project supported by NSEC, research focuses on the effects of environmental exposures on children development and health (especially metabolic diseases and neurodevelopment disorders) and the corresponding mechanisms, has published 20+ original papers in SCI-collected journals.
B. Main Research Areas
Relationships between environment factors, gene, epigenetic factors and fetal growth and child development and long-term health effects.
C. Background & Significance
With the changes of social, economy and environment, the occurrence rates of various adverse health outcomes of infants and children are rising with each passing year. The impact of environmental factor on the occurrence and process of infant and children adverse health outcomes are unneglectable. Environmental pollutants such as environmental endocrine disrupting chemicals can increase the risk of children metabolic disorders (obesity, hypertension), neurodevelopmental disorders (autistic disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), and respiratory system allergic diseases (wheeze, asthma). The embryonic phase and neonatal stage are important periods of rapid growth and development of organs and systems. The immature metabolism system, nervous system and respiratory system can be highly sensitive to any external factors which may interfere with development process. Adverse environmental exposures during early life, such as exposure to environmental endocrine disruptors, maternal malnutrition, maternal obesity, tobacco use during pregnancy, infection, endocrine disorder and psychological trauma, can pose a threat to the health condition of infants and children and increase the risk of various diseases in the childhood.
The primary condition of the prevention is to elucidate the pathogenesis and mechanism of the diseases. Birth cohort is the best platform to investigate the pathogenesis of children related diseases, the physical and neural development of children, pregnancy, and children’s health care. The research conclusions of long-term cohort study are highly reliable and have important theoretical and practical significance. In order to provide fundamental basis for improving the health condition of the next generation and scientific basis for controlling environmental pollution, we build up an on-going birth cohort with more than 20,000 mother-infant pairs to explore the effect and mechanisms of adverse environmental exposures in early life with the development and progression of diseases. Adverse pregnancy outcomes, pregnancy complications, childhood diseases, physical and neural development of children are included as outcomes of our study.
D. Academic Strength:
The Healthy Baby Cohort (HBC) is a large-scale prospective birth cohort co-established by the School of Public Health, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Women and Children Medical and Healthcare Center of Wuhan and Brown University which is committed to investigate the associations between environment factors, gene, epigenetic factors and fetal growth and child development and long-term health effects. This cohort enrolled mother-infant pairs at three maternity hospital in Wuhan (representing for big city), Ezhou (representing for small-medium city), and Macheng (representing for countryside), which are located in Hubei Province in central China. The basic information, health condition, prenatal environmental exposure, maternal healthcare of pregnant women, as well as exposure and health condition of their infants were collected in detail. We also collected and preserved the biological samples of mother-infant pairs at certain time points. Until the end of December 2017, we have recruited 22723 pregnant women, and 17671 single live births were born. More than 1,000,000 specimens were stored in our biobank.
Our school has a Key laboratory of Environment and Health (Wuhan), Ministry of Environmental Protection. The mission of the Key laboratory is to study the relationship of environment and health, focus on factors of environmental pollution. For a long time, the Key laboratory has been working on the studies of the effects and mechanism caused by environmental pollutants to public health and environment, as well as the risk estimate and strategy for prevention. The Key laboratory has a Research Center for Environment and Health which was built in 2005. The area of this center reaches 8,000 square meters, which has minus 80°C freezers equipped with advanced temperature monitoring alarms, and many instruments and equipment including PCR thermocycle instruments (regular and real-time), HPLC-MS/MS, GC-MS, refrigerated centrifuges, automatic enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay systems, digital UV imaging systems, fluorescence microscope, transmission electron microscope, fluorescence spectrophotometer, and UV-VIS Spectrophotometer. The total value of the instrument and equipment reaches up to ￥36,8 million. Routine experiments and services contain blood/tissue specimen processing, DNA/RNA extractions, protein extraction, genotyping, RNA expression assays, DNA methylation analysis and protein analysis with commercial ELISAs.
Funds: The Healthy Baby Cohort study was supported by five national-level scientific research projects, including one Key Project of National Natural Science Foundation of China, two Major Research Plan of National Natural Science Foundation of China, one Key Project of Reproductive Health and the Prevention and Control of Major Birth Defects, and one Key Project of National Research and Development. The total funding reaches ￥13 million.
E. Domestic and international cooperation:
The Healthy Baby Cohort study has become an important platform of international academic communication and cooperation of the School of Public Health by establishing strategic partnerships with Yale University and Brown University. Each year we organized regular international academic communications, professors from Brown University come to visit once or twice per year. In 2015, the founder of the project visited Brown University for academic communication. From 2014 to 2016, two academic backbones of the project were sent to the United States for professional development (last for more than one year). Academic cooperations were started in 2014 with Hong Kong Baptist University, and regular academic communications concerning the detection of the pollutants were organized.
Team Contact: Prof. XIA Wei, email@example.com