• Article
  • Jul 10 2023

UK receives renewed award to continue environmental health research in Appalachia

Lend-A-Hand Center team during the waterway cleanup efforts in Perry County. Photo provided by UK-CARES

The University of Kentucky Center for Appalachian Research in Environmental Sciences (UK-CARES) will continue its work to study major environmental health impacts on Kentuckians with a renewed award from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The grant totaling $7.4 million will continue to fund UK-CARES over the next five years. The center was established in August 2017, with an initial $7.4 million NIEHS grant, making it an Environmental Health Sciences Core Center to enhance research across all spectrums — basic, clinical, epidemiological and translational.

UK-CARES is focused on studying environmental health impacts to air and water quality that are implicated in environmentally-induced disease, as well as emerging threats such as flooding and exposure to new contaminants.

“Over these last five years, our Commonwealth has been through one major event after another, from the COVID-19 pandemic to historic flooding and devastating tornadoes. The members of UK-CARES along with our community partners have done critical research to understand and address environmental health impacts,” said Ellen J. Hahn, Ph.D., a registered nurse, professor in the UK Colleges of Nursing and Public Health, and director of UK-CARES. “We will continue to learn with and from the community to tackle the environmental challenges facing the state and the health of its people, especially throughout Appalachia.”

The center provides pilot project funding, research expertise, career development, a faculty fellows program in science communication, mentorship, and community grants to facilitate innovative discovery and new understandings of environmental factors in disease initiation, progression and outcomes and their community impacts. You can learn more about those efforts here.

“The research conducted within UK-CARES is a tangible fulfillment of the University of Kentucky’s mission to serve the Commonwealth, specifically the people who face the highest rates of chronic diseases and the regions that face tremendous environmental challenges,” said Lisa Cassis, UK vice president for research. “The renewal of this award will allow investigators across our institution and stakeholders in the community to continue to partner to find solutions to these pressing environmental health issues in Appalachian Kentucky and beyond.”

UK-CARES is housed in the College of Nursing. The center has an interdisciplinary team of researchers across the Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Public Health and Engineering, as well as the Gill Heart Institute, Kentucky Water Research Institute, Markey Cancer Center, BREATHE, UK Center for Excellence in Rural Health and Kentucky Homeplace, and the USA Drone Port in Hazard, Kentucky. 

UK-CARES has an active Stakeholder Advisory Board including representatives from Appalachian Citizens Law Center, Appalachian Voices, Benham City Council, Lindsey Wilson College, Ohio Living Home Health and Hospice, Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, Southern Kentucky AHEC, University Center of the Mountains and community advocates.  

UK-CARES also offers different types of memberships for those interested in contributing to the breadth of environmental health research at the center. You can find more information here.

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number P30ES026529. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.