The Center for Environmental Health and Health Promotion (CEHHP) held its fall 2016 Symposium on October 24. The symposium, “Environment, Epigenetics and Cancer: How to Cultivate the Connections,” updated attendees on current research and understanding of the role of epigenetics and the environment in cancer risk and development. The event was held in the Student Union Amphitheater and was attended by 169 faculty, staff and students. The symposium chair was Professor Pouran Faghri, director of CEHHP. Other members of the organizing committee were Associate Professor in Residence Judy Brown and Associate Professor Tricia Leahey. All are faculty members in the Department of Allied Health Sciences. The keynote presentation, “Breast Cancer Susceptibility: Rethinking the Role of the Environment and Methods to Improve Risk Assessment,” was delivered by Mary Beth Terry, professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health and Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, a National Cancer Center Institute Designated Center, at Columbia University.
The guest panelists were Gary Lee Ginsberg, a toxicologist and risk assessor from the Connecticut Department of Public Health and adjunct faculty member at the Yale School of Public Health and UConn Health; Ellen Matloff, president and CEO of My Gene Counsel, LLC; and Christina Stevenson, assistant professor at Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center at UConn Health and a surgical oncologist; Terry and guest panelists discussed advances in risk assessment and implications of scientific discoveries and examined epigenetic biomarkers and technological advances in screening, diagnosis and treatment of cancer as well as providing feedback about the public and patient perspective. Panel moderators were Associate Professor of Psychology Robert Henning and Brown.
Said Faghri, “Although environmental, occupational and recreational exposures to carcinogens contribute to cancer risk in humans, the incidence and progression of cancer varies between individuals, which may be attributed to inter-individual differences, especially genetic makeups. The goal of this symposium was to provide attendees with an update of the current research and our understanding of the role of epigenetics and the environment in cancer.”