Research Initiatives

PHS stimulates research initiatives in the following areas. Some initiatives represent new directions for ongoing collaborations while others are in every sense new. Contact us for more information about any of the initiatives or to be connected with the investigators.

Early Life Social and Environmental Determinants of DNA Methylation: A Population Based Study

The goal of this proposed study is to examine the social, economic, behavioral and environmental predictors of site-specific DNA methylation in a young population that is not yet experiencing chronic disease. The study rationale is that socioeconomically related exposures that are detrimental to health may already early in life be associated with site-specific differential DNA methylation. The significance of testing this hypothesis for sociodemographic factors and associated behavioral and environmental pathways is that this could give insight into biological pathways of disease pathogenesis that have relevance in human populations, and in to mechanisms of how early life exposures may impact disease later in life. The underlying hypothesis is that healthy, young people living under more adverse social circumstances will have quantitatively and qualitatively different patterns of DNA methylation in specific gene expression related regions as compared to people from higher socioeconomic backgrounds.

Fresno Schools: Assessing the Relationship Between Early Health and School Performance

Using the data in Center for Policy, Outcomes, and Prevention (CPOP) and newly acquired access to school records, this project will assess the relationships between health at birth and early life and subsequent school performance. The study aims to determine remediable factors—social and medical—for which there may be promising interventions to ameliorate widening educational disparities.

Effect of Early Life Social Environment on Later Life Hypertension

We use a unique data linkage to combine social and economic contextual data on early life state of residence, work environment, along with current census tract, current state and current county for 23,488 United States blue and white-collar manufacturing workers that were observed between 1996 and 2012. The health outcome of focus is prevalence of hypertension assessed using medical claims data. Using three different modeling techniques, our findings support additional attention towards the importance of both early life state context and workplace context as important risk factors for incident hypertension in working age adults.