Investigating the links between environment and health — now and in the future

The environment in which we live, work and play impacts our health in many ways. From the air we breathe to the water we drink, we are exposed to a host of environmental chemicals, some with the potential to contribute to diseases like cancer — both now and in future generations.

At VAI, we have a team of scientists that is investigating how these exposures impact health and their implications for the future. They seek to answer questions like:

  • How do environmental factors, like toxicants, impact our genetic code and contribute to cancer?
  • How do certain microbes in our environment impact our health and the health of our offspring, even before birth?
  • How do the dietary and environmental exposures of parents affect offspring?
  • What role does chance and probability play in protecting us from or predisposing us to disease?

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By the numbers

Environmental health

  • 24% An estimated 24% of all deaths globally have been linked to the environment.*
  • 4M Annually, more than 4 million deaths are the result of exposure to fine particulate matter.*
  • 12M People die globally each year due to living or working in unhealthy environments.**

VAI scientists who study health and environment

Nick Burton, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Metabolism and Nutritional Programming

Maternal Effects on Metabolism and Host-Microbe Interactions

Yvonne Fondufe-Mittendorf, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Epigenetics

Epigenetic Regulation and Environmental Impacts

Adelheid (Heidi) Lempradl, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Metabolism and Nutritional Programming

Intergenerational Inheritance of Nutritional States

Image of Dr. J. Andrew Pospisilik

J. Andrew Pospisilik, Ph.D.

Chair and Professor, Department of Epigenetics

Epigenetic Origins of Heterogeneity and Disease

Recent Publications


*World Health Organization. 2016. Public health and environment. https://www.who.int/data/gho/data/themes/public-health-and-environment.

**Prüss-Ustün, A., Wolf, J., Corvalán, C., Bos, R., & Neira, M. (2016). Preventing Disease Through Healthy Environments: A Global Assessment of the Burden of Disease from Environmental Risks. Retrieved from https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/204585/9789241565196_eng.pdf;jsessionid=09B50968F412E8B2DFD3E8FFDA7C200E?sequence=1