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Ralph Delfino, MD, PhD, Environmental Epidemiologist

Ralph Delfino, MD, PhD, Environmental Epidemiologist
Ralph Delfino, MD, PhD, Professor and Vice-Chair for Graduate Education and Research

Dr. Delfino's epidemiologic studies have evaluated multiple clinical, biological and genetic factors to understand the effects of air pollutants on respiratory health, cardiovascular function, oxidative stress, and airway and systemic inflammation.  This is being accomplished primarily with cohort panel studies involving repeated measures of exposures and outcomes to obtain precise estimates of exposure-response relationships.  Each subject serves as his or her own control.

For cardiovascular panels this has involved ambulatory Holter ECG and hourly blood pressure data, exhaled nitric oxide, and repeated blood draws for circulating protein biomarkers and for gene expression in several key biological pathways (e.g., oxidative stress and antioxidant response, inflammation, and thrombosis).  Dr. Delfino is also evaluating whether polymorphisms in genes involved in oxidative stress responses modify associations between repeated measures of air pollutants and health outcomes. 

Future work using prospective cohort designs is being proposed to evaluate relations between traffic-related air pollutant exposures and disease development such as coronary atherosclerosis and pediatric asthma and allergy onset.  These are growing public health concerns that, in the case of asthma for example, can result in repeated hospitalization from exposure to local traffic near the subject's home.