CHEEC awards FY19 seed grants for environmental research

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CHEEC awards FY19 seed grants for environmental research

May 20, 2019

The University of Iowa Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination (CHEEC) has awarded $80,000 in seed grants to researchers at the University of Iowa. Awarded projects will study the effects of pyrethroid insecticides on fetal growth and development, and pesticides on thyroid function. 

CHEEC supports and conducts environmental health research relating to environmental toxins. Its mission is ‘to determine the levels of environmental contamination which can be specifically associated with human health effects”.

CHEEC seed grants are intended for pilot studies that stimulate the growth and development of innovative lines of environmental health research. The program seeks to fulfill the education and research missions of Iowa colleges and universities by promoting the involvement of students in research activities.


Role of the Placenta in Cypermethrin-Induced Disruption of Fetal Growth and Neurodevelopment

Benjamin Elser, doctoral student in the Human Toxicology program; Hanna Stevens, associate professor of psychiatry; and Hans-Joachim Lehmler, professor of occupational and environmental health at the UI.

Researchers at the UI will investigate the effects of pyrethroid insecticides on placental growth and function. Concentrations of the insecticides will be measured in maternal, placental, and fetal tissue. The data collected will be used to better understand the mechanisms by which pyrethroid insecticides alter fetal growth and neurodevelopment as well as any adverse health effects associated.

Pesticide exposure among Iowa Agricultural Health Study participants and measures of thyroid function in their offspring 

Paul Romitti, professor in the College of Public Health; Jonathan Suhl, postdoctoral research scholar; Charles Lynch, professor of biostatistics in the College of Public Health; Kristin Conway, associate research scientist; Val Sheffield, professor of pediatrics in the Carver College of Medicine; Stanton Berberich of the State Hygienic Laboratory (SHL); Travis Henry of SHL; Laura Beane Freeman, senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute; and Dale Sandler, senior investigator at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Researchers at the UI will study the relations between parental exposures to pesticides and the presence of congenital hypothyroidism (CH) in their offspring. The study will use data obtained by the Iowa Agricultural Health Study and the Iowa Newborn Screening (NBS) and will attempt to provide insight into the role of environmental factors on newborn thyroid development.


Since 1989, CHEEC has awarded $3.4 million for seed grant research. This investment has attracted more than $28 million in external funding for additional research. Seed grant funding provides hands-on learning opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students, enhancing their educational experience and preparing them for their professional lives.

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CHEEC is part of the University of Iowa Office of the Vice President for Research, which provides researchers and scholars with resources, guidance, and inspiration to secure funding, collaborate, innovate, and forge frontiers of discovery that benefit everyone. More at, and on Twitter: @DaretoDiscover

Media Note: Media interested in interviewing grant recipients or arranging to shoot photos should contact Strategic Communications Director Stephen Pradarelli in the Office of the Vice President for Research at 319-384-1282 or