Connecting Environment to Health in Texas & Beyond
The Center for Health and Environment: Education and Research at Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin is a hub for multidisciplinary environmental health sciences research and education. It brings together University of Texas experts from the Steve Hicks School of Social Work, College of Pharmacy, Cockrell School of Engineering and College of Natural Sciences.
Elizabeth Matsui, M.D., MHS, leads the work to improve the health of people locally and globally by exploring the effects of environmental exposures borne by air, water and soil. To address health disparities, the center investigates how these exposures disproportionately affect low-income and minority populations.
Areas of Focus
Population health is an important focus for the center since environmental exposures are distributed geographically and have population-scale effects. These exposures perpetuate health disparities by disproportionately affecting low-income and minority populations. The center aims to increase awareness of the population health and disparity implications of environmental exposures with the goal of stimulating the cross-sector, systems-level change needed to improve health. This work involves sectors such as health care, housing, urban planning, economics and environmental policy.
The center rapidly fosters knowledge that improves health by bringing together a critical mass of faculty across disciplines in environmental health. Sponsored activities include an invited speaker series as well as other events to promote engagement and collaboration. The center also aims to engage a range of learners — medical students, undergraduate and graduate students, residents, fellows, faculty and staff — in environmental-health education. The center enables sponsorship of graduate students and interdisciplinary post-docs.
About the Research
CHEER hosts monthly seminar sessions led by steering committee members. Please join CHEER at the beginning of every month to learn about the diversity of work being done in environmental health research and education. Information and dates for upcoming seminars can be found on the UT Austin and Dell Med event calendars and through announcements in e-newsletters.
CHEER plays a key role in a variety of research, educational and policy activities at UT Austin and in the Austin metropolitan area. The activities range from scientific mentorship to students to community engagement to advising local and state organizations.
CHEER has helped spearhead an environmental health advocacy writing program for the medical student-led Environmental Health Interest Group in partnership with Lisa Doggett, M.D., MPH; Lesa Walker, M.D.; and the Environmental Defense Fund. CHEER also supports Community-Driven Initiatives in its partnerships with community-based organizations focused on environmental health advocacy.
CHEER post-doctoral fellows work with CHEER faculty on a range of environmental health topics.
Fellow Sarah Chambliss, Ph.D., is an environmental engineer specializing in urban air quality with a focus on the drivers of neighborhood-scale pollution gradients and their implications for exposure and environmental justice. She is working with Corwin Zigler, Ph.D.
Fellow Dan Katz, Ph.D., is a plant ecologist studying the factors that determine J. ashei (“mountain cedar”) pollen levels and how exposure to the pollen may lead to increases in emergency department visits for asthma. He is working with Elizabeth Matsui, M.D., MHS.