Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology

Associate Director
Air pollution Health Effects Laboratory
University of California, Irvine

Research areas: Air pollution, Aerosol Dosimetry, Environmental Health, Inhalation Toxicology

Research interests: The release of pollutants into the environment by human activities is a worldwide problem with significant impact on health issues and global climate. My main research interest is to study how air pollution contributes to the development, exacerbation and progression of chronic inflammatory diseases. The World Health Organization lists particulate matter (PM) air pollution as the 13th leading cause of worldwide mortality. PM is recognized as a risk factor for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and has been associated with inflammatory responses in the brains of experimental animals. Thus, the principal thrust of my research is to elucidate the mechanisms by which air pollutants disrupt protective defense mechanisms in the body leading to disease. My research follows three major approaches to study the toxicity of air pollutants: 1) identifying physicochemical characteristics of pollutants associated with the occurrence of adverse health effects; 2) studying the effects of PM and other air pollutants in animal models of susceptibility; and 3) elucidating cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the initiation of pro-inflammatory responses and oxidative stress due to pollutant exposure.

CETR collaborations: I have been collaborating with the CETR since 2006, where my main research endeavors involve studying the effects of Sahara dust events arriving to the Caribbean in the exacerbation of childhood asthma in Puerto Rico. Specifically by identifying molecular mechanisms of cytokine induction involved in PM toxicity using an in-vitro model of bronchial epithelial cells. In addition, I serve as co-advisor and mentor of undergraduate and graduate students conducting their research at the Center.