Dr. Deliang Tang's primary research interest is in predictive risk modeling for cancer, particularly focusing on genetic susceptibility and environmental exposures. This interdisciplinary research consists of the development and validation of susceptibility and exposure/effect biomarkers and the development of statistical risk models. He is currently analyzing genotypes in ongoing studies of breast cancer, lung cancer, and chemoprevention, assessing whether these genotypes are associated with disease and how genotype interacts with environmental exposures. Dr. Tang's modeling work includes possible gene-environmental interactions, gene-gene interactions and gene-disease associations. A major goal of his research, which includes creating new predictive risk models and further developing the model to deal with the mass quantities of genetic data that are expected from the "gene chip" technology, is early cancer detection, based on biomarker analysis.
NYC Mothers and Newborns Study
In New York City, the CCCEH is conducting its largest prospective cohort study to evaluate prenatal and early postnatal risk factors in neurocognitive development, asthma etiology and cancer risk in African American and Latino mothers and newborns. Over 700 women are enrolled during pregnancy and their infants are followed through age five. A battery of data collection strategies are used, including multiple biomarkers, air monitoring and detailed questionnaires to determine exposure levels to a range of common urban air pollutants, pesticides, and indoor allergens. Specifically, researchers collect personal indoor and outdoor ambient air monitoring samples pre- and postnatally, and biologic samples are analyzed for markers of exposure and potential risk. Multiple questionnaires are administered to determine exposures to environmental tobacco smoke, particulate matter including diesel exhaust particulates (DEP), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), nonpersistent pesticides, and home allergens (dust mite, mouse, cockroach). The effects of these exposures on children's health are estimated based on intermediate biomarkers and clinical data on neurodevelopment, asthma and other respiratory disorders.
The Effects of 9/11 on Pregnant Women and Newborns
The CCCEH World Trade Center 9/11 Study is assessing the effects of air pollutants released by the WTC destruction and during months of ensuing fires on the especially vulnerable populations of pregnant women and their unborn infants. The purpose is to provide information to women and families in the affected communities of New York City as well as to the broader community. The study is using biomarkers, monitoring data, and a geographic information system to measure the exposure of pregnant women and their babies, to evaluate the effects of maternal and fetal exposure on pregnancy outcomes, and to conduct a 2-year follow-up to explore the effects of exposure on the growth and development of the infant. The Columbia research team at the CCCEH is collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and with Columbia University's Earth Institute.
Selected Global Activities:
Prevention of Health Effects in Children from Energy-Related Air Pollution
Evidence is mounting that air pollution from burning of coal and other fossil fuels can cause life-threatening and debilitating illness ranging from respiratory problems to cancer and developmental disorders in children. In China and also in the U.S. and elsewhere, policymakers face major limitations because data are lacking on the health effects of energy-related air pollution, particularly in the very young. Yet there is evidence that the fetus and young child are inherently more sensitive than adults to the toxic and procarcinogenic effects of air pollution.
In collaboration with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and with the municipality of Chongqing, this project aims to demonstrate the immediate health benefits of eliminating coal-burning emissions through energy conversion or closing of the polluting source. Dr. Tang and colleagues will compare biomarkers and birth outcomes in two groups of newborns. The first group will be born before pollution elimination takes place; and the second group will be conceived and born after conversion.
Dr. Tang and colleagues expect that the levels of genetic damage in cord blood and placental tissue from the major coal-burning pollutant, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), will differ substantially before and after implementation of the Clean Energy Program, consistent with the air monitoring data.