The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
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Did you know....

individuals exhibiting no signs of pollution-induced illness may still harbor and pass on to their children genetic mutations, leading to serious health problems in succeeding generations?

Hailing from different research fields, The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) scientists are drawn together by the core mission of the Sealy Center for Environmental Health and Medicine: to enhance understanding of how environmental pollutants such as pesticides, excessive ozone and fuel emissions - as well as indoor pollutants like tobacco smoke - affect the public's health. These researchers conduct their work, appropriately enough, in an area that ranks among the most polluted in the nation, the city of Houston and surrounding counties.

Life in the 21st century, with its countless advantages and conveniences, comes at a price, and scientists are increasingly turning their attention to the public health costs of a standard of living that knows no precedent. People often fail to grasp the long-range implications of environmental pollution.

At UTMB, 45 faculty members affiliated with the Sealy Center for Environmental Health and Medicine (Sealy Center) are among the scientists turning their attention to public health costs. Profits once enjoyed by the nation's tobacco companies are now funding UTMB research into how smoking harms the body at the genetic level. The Sealy Center received almost 80 percent of its budget for fiscal year 2000 from distributions provided by the Permanent Health Fund. The Sealy Center, in turn, recently provided funding to UTMB's synthetic/organic chemistry core facility to chemically manufacture the cancer-causing substances found in tobacco smoke. On August 31, 2001, UTMB's portion of the Permanent Health Fund was valued at $24.1 million. The endowment distributed $1.2 million in support for the fiscal year 2001.

The other 20 percent of the Sealy Center's fiscal year 2000 budget came from the John Sealy Memorial Endowment Fund for Biomedical Research. The fund, which fuels a wide range of key research initiatives at UTMB, was established in 1986 by the Sealy & Smith Foundation, a Galveston philanthropy expressly committed to supporting the mission of the university and its John Sealy Hospital.

Over the course of the past decade, UTMB has established itself as one of the nation's foremost environmental health research universities. The Sealy Center for Environmental Health and Medicine has helped make this progress possible by creating an environment in which research collaborations flourish. It is this research that will enable scientists to better understand how pollution affects public health and to more effectively protect humankind.