Dr. Mirek Styblo, professor of nutrition, and Dr. Rebecca Fry, Carol Remmer Angle Distinguished Professor of environmental sciences and engineering, both at the UNC-Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health, were awarded more than $2.2 million by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study diabetes associated with exposure to arsenic, a common drinking water and food contaminant.
The team will use mouse models to characterize disease phenotypes associated with specific exposure windows (preconception, pre- and postnatal) and to identify mechanisms underlying development of these phenotypes.
The role of diets and nutrients that modulate arsenic metabolism also will be examined as potential disease prevention methods.
“We are looking forward to the opportunity to identify mechanisms to prevent arsenic-induced disease, particularly those associated with early life exposure,” said Dr. Fry, who also is director of UNC’s Institute for Environmental Health Solutions.
Drs. Styblo and Fry have collaborated on several population-based and laboratory studies focusing on adverse health effects related to environmental metals, including arsenic. This is their fourth jointly-funded NIH project.
“To the best of my knowledge, this is the first study to systematically compare the diabetogenic effects of arsenic during specific developmental windows,” Dr. Styblo said.