U of C and UIC to Open Environmental Health Sciences Center

The new center will be called the ChicAgo Center for Health and Environment (CACHET).

By Katherine Vega

The University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) received a joint $4 million grant last week from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to establish an environmental health sciences center.

The new center, called the Chicago Center for Health and Environment (CACHET), will be run in partnership by the two universities.

Habibul Ahsan, a UChicago professor in the departments of Public Health Sciences and Medicine and Associate Director of the Cancer Research Center, is one of the co-directors of the center. UIC professor Gail Prins, Michael Reese Professor of Urology and Physiology and Director of the University Andrology Laboratory, serves as the other co-director.

CACHET will study disparities in environmental health among Chicago residents and aims to find ways to mitigate them. According to the CACHET website, it will do this by promoting multidisciplinary environmental health research among clinician, laboratory, and population scientists. CACHET is currently studying issues including air pollution, lead in Chicago water, and airborne metal pollution, among others.

The grant will fund infrastructure to support various aspects of the center, Prins wrote in an e-mail to The Maroon. “This includes education, community outreach in pollution-affected areas, statistical support, translational assistance, and pilot project funding to initiate new research opportunities across both campuses,” Prins wrote.

Prins wrote that CACHET was formed conceptually three years ago, but was officially launched this September.

In an e-mail to The Maroon, Ahsan called the collaboration between UIC and UChicago “productive and rewarding.” In addition to the partnership between UIC and UChicago, CACHET researchers will also collaborate with other local organizations and researchers, such as the Array of Things and the Southeast Environmental Task Force.

“There are groups of scientists on both campuses with common interests and goals, yet diverse resources and specialties. By working together, the opportunities for the environmental health research as a whole [are] markedly expanded,” Prins wrote.