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How do environmental exposures affect human health over a lifetime?

Providing researchers with key resources through the Human Health Exposure Analysis Resource (HHEAR)

Challenge

Understanding human health demands considering both environmental and genetic factors, which require sophisticated tools and technologies that are not readily available to researchers. The Human Health Exposure Resource (HHEAR) addresses this need. It is a continuation of the Children’s Health Exposure Analysis Resource (CHEAR).

HHEAR is a centralized network of high-quality exposure analysis services, enabling scientists studying human health to expand their research to consider environmental impacts.

It has been developed by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), in partnership with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), and the National Institutes of Health Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program.

Solution

HHEAR’s infrastructure also includes 3 key components:

  • HHEAR Coordinating Center, operated by Westat to facilitate access to HHEAR services and give researchers the opportunity to interface and collaborate with each other
  • The Network of Exposure Laboratories, conducting analysis of biological and environmental samples
  • The Data Center, providing support for the storage, analysis, and interpretation of data generated by the HHEAR network

As the HHEAR Coordinating Center, Westat also:

  • Manages and tracks the flow of projects, materials, and analyses between the HHEAR components and participating researchers
  • Maintains and updates a public website to facilitate communication with the broader scientific community and help researchers learn about and apply for HHEAR services
  • Advises researchers on required project documentation and HHEAR policies and agreements
  • Develops processes for evaluating the project workflow and efficiency of services
  • Provides organizational and logistical support to HHEAR committees and working groups
  • Develops education and outreach activities to facilitate exposure analysis research in the broader scientific community

Results

HHEAR provides researchers with access to comprehensive services in study design, state-of-the-art laboratory testing of biological and environmental samples, and assistance with statistical analysis, at no cost.

With these services, researchers will be able to:

  • Harmonize data to gain a better understanding of the exposome
  • Learn how factors in the environment impact disease
  • Better assess the broadest possible effects of environmental exposures on human health throughout the life course

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