New NIH program establishes UMN lab focus on environmental effects of pediatric diseases

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A new infrastructure to expand environmental analysis in children’s health research was announced today by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), funded by nearly $144 million in grants. The project allows for the development of new tools and measures to better assess the impact of environmental exposures on child health and development.

Read the full release from the NIH here

The Children’s Health Exposure Analysis Resource (CHEAR) will focus on three major concerns:    

  •       The development of new tools to enhance study of environmental impacts on children’s diseases;
  •       A stronger look at exposures during in utero development, and the impact on future conditions;
  •       And leveraging existing programs to facilitate collaboration and expand the examination of environmental factors on children’s illnesses, conditions, and development.

Researchers at the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota have been awarded $5.1 million over four years to provide access to infrastructure for analysis and expanding collaboration on this important field of study.

To speak with the researchers leading the laboratory on this project, contact Caroline Marin, 612-624-5680,

Lisa Peterson, Ph.D., professor of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, and program leader in Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention, Masonic Cancer Center

Peterson’s research focus is on the mechanisms by which chemicals initiate carcinogenesis, and she teaches on topics such as chemical toxicology. Her areas of interest include topics such as toxicology, environmental factors of cancer development, and tobacco-related carcinogens.

Stephen Hecht, Ph.D., Wallin Land Grant Professor of Cancer Prevention in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Masonic Cancer Center, and Department of Medicinal Chemistry


Research in the Hecht laboratory is focused on the ways carcinogens in tobacco products and the human environment modify DNA or activate metabolic changes, and the applications of this knowledge to cancer prevention. His research goals include providing evidence to support the regulation of tobacco products as well as finding ways to identify smokers most likely to contract cancer, allowing for early intervention.