The Genes and Environment Laboratory (GEL) is a unit within the Division of Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health at University of California Berkeley (UCB).  Lead by Professors Martyn Smith, Stephen Rappaport, Christine Skibola, and Luoping Zhang, GEL is staffed by Researchers, Postdoctoral Scholars, Graduate Students, Undergraduate Lab Assistants, and Administrative support personnel.

OUR MISSION is to identify the adverse effects of chemicals on human health, to determine how genetic variation influences disease susceptibility and the effects of environmental exposures, and to study the mechanisms involved. In conducting our research, we mentor postdoctoral and student researchers to develop a new generation of independent investigators to continue this important work.

Our research is focused on the blood-borne cancers leukemia and lymphoma and the chemicals benzene, arsenic, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene (TCE), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).  Our goal is to improve toxicity testing, hazard identification and risk assessment by applying “omics” (human genome-based) technologies to develop biomarkers of exposure, early effect, and susceptibility in humans.

GEL has ongoing research collaborations with other units in the UCB School of Public Health, UCB’s Colleges of Chemistry and Engineering, University of California San Francisco, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  In addition, GEL collaborates with scientists at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and has sponsored Postdoctoral Scholar and Visiting Scholar research appointments for scientists from the US and abroad.

GEL is funded both by UCB and by research grants and fellowships from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the American Cancer Society, the National Science Foundation, the Council for Education and Research on Toxics, and the Foundation for Children with Leukaemia.  Our work is also funded in part by the Genes, Environment, and Health Initiative (GEI) of the National Institutes of Health and the Exposure Biology Program at NIEHS, both of which seek to develop innovative technologies to better understand the interplay of environmental exposure to contaminants and genetic variations on human disease.

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