Shared Resources

In all our research and program implementation, we call upon many of the vast resources throughout the Mount Sinai Health System.

The Senator Frank R. Lautenberg Environmental Health Sciences Laboratory, funded through the generosity of the Lautenberg Family Foundation and directed by Robert O. Wright, MD, MPH, is a shared resource facility serving MCHDI and the Children’s Environmental Health Center (CEHC) in the Department of Preventive Medicine. This state-of-the-art laboratory is equipped with the latest technology and instruments to conduct cutting-edge research in environmental health.

Establishment of the Lautenberg Lab was critical to providing new information about the links between environmental chemical exposures and childhood disease. For example, Manish Arora, PhD, BDS, MPH–recent recipient of an NIH Young Innovator Award–has developed an innovative methodology to study how fetal development may be changed by environmental toxicants, as well as the associated risk of long-term health disorders. By providing a window into the past, which dates as far back to the prenatal period, Dr. Arora’s methodology can reconstruct the timing of the exposure, which is more important than the dose in some cases. Not only is it often possible to determine when toxicants were first introduced to the body, but we can use sophisticated statistical models to understand how mixtures of chemicals interact and affect children.

The BioMe Biobank contains the largest collection of DNA and plasma samples for research studies at Mount Sinai. Large-scale genomic data is stored in the Biobank, allowing research to be performed on de-identified clinical information from the Mount Sinai Health System’s data warehouse (MSDW) system while maintaining patient confidentiality. The MSDW contains all inpatient and outpatient data in the Epic Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system, supporting high-throughput genotyping and phenotyping of diseases. The goal is to integrate patient clinical care information and research data. Observational epidemiologic studies of children have grown in the past decade in response to the increasing prevalence of childhood diseases including obesity, autism, and asthma, and environmental risk factors such as lead and pesticides. The technological ease of genotyping collected DNA samples has also led to studies of the genetic basis of childhood diseases. Enrolling children in the Mount Sinai Biobank Project could be useful for studies designed to understand the role genes play in disease and the effects of early childhood exposures and their environment.

MCHDI, in collaboration with the Charles R. Bronfman Institute for Personalized Medicine at Mount Sinai, is funding the collection of DNA samples from pediatric patients with allergies. A BioMe Biobank Clinical Research Coordinator is dedicated to enrolling patients from three mornings per week, with partial salary support coming from MCHDI. Since February 2012, the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute has recruited more than 940 enrollees. Patients, one day old or older, are eligible to donate samples by providing one-time blood samples from which DNA and plasma are subsequently extracted and stored. Participants are also asked to complete a family health history questionnaire detailing self and family disease history and environmental and occupational exposures. The pediatric cohort is comprised of samples from diverse racial and ethnic groups.

The Biorepository and Pathology CORE facility provides basic histology services including processing and embedding section fixed and frozen tissues from animal or human sources. The facility will prepare unstained slides suitable for a variety of applications as outlined below.

Histology

DNA/RNA/miRNA extraction from fluids and tissue specimens (fixed and frozen)

Immunohistochemistry (IHC)

Hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) sections for routine light microscopic evaluation

In-situ hybridization

Design, construct, section multi-core tissue microarrays

Laser capture micro-dissection

High-resolution scanning and image analysis of H&E and IHC stained slides and tissue microarrays

Immunoflourescence- simplex/ multiplex

Animal-model and human based clinical-pathology interpretation

It also currently supports functions for tissue procurement, both from consented and anonymized collections. Pathologists in charge of procurement can be contacted for consultations to determine investigator requirements for human tissues in translational research.