Everyday Exposures - Toxins & Health

This pilot grant opportunity focused on the effects of environmental toxins on human health. Environmental toxins are frequently, but not exclusively, derived from human activity and may be present in the air, water, land, food, or manufactured products in concentrations affecting human health. For example, a recent Science review, “Exposome & Health”, captures the diversity and range of exposures to a variety of stimuli, including synthetic chemicals, dietary constituents and increasingly noise and temperature, as well as their corresponding biological responses. The impact of local air quality, as assessed by concentrations of particulates, has recently been defined as a significant contributor to increased mortality from COVID-19. We strive to fund innovative translational research proposals that address unmet human health needs that are outside of currently funded research work or that extend such work into novel applications.

Pilot grant proposals may focus on a variety of environmental toxin concepts, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Diagnostic technologies
  • Biomarkers for disease detection, disease progression, or clinical response
  • Preventative or therapeutic treatment modalities
  • Metabolism
  • Educational methodologies
  • Associated disease causation
  • Health disparities
  • Toxin remediation
  • Public policy
  • Environmental or architectural design

All Harvard University-appointed junior and senior faculty members were encouraged to apply for this funding opportunity.

Funding decisions were announced in May 2021.

Sponsoring Program

Translational Innovator


Joseph Allen DSc. | Hormone Potency in Cell Assays of Chemical Mixtures on Wristbands Worn by Office Workers
David Cantonwine PhD | Validating an Environmental History Questionnaire for use in OB/GYN
Qi Sun DSc. MD | Per- and Poly-Fluoroalkyl Substances, Apolipoproteins, and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease
Katherine von Stackelberg ScD | Exploratory Analyses of Per- and Polyfluorinated Substances (PFAS) Exposures, Mechanisms of Immunotoxicity, and Adverse Outcome Pathway Development 
Xuehong Zhang DSc. BM | Environmental Toxins and Liver Health: Association between Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) and Liver Cancer Risk