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July 13, 2011

RajagopalanSanjayCOLUMBUS, Ohio – Researchers at The Ohio State University Medical Center have been awarded more than $3 million to study air pollution and its effects on chronic disease.

Dr. Sanjay Rajagopalan, director for vascular research at Ohio State’s Medical Center, says the grants will help teams examine a global health problem from study sites in Ohio and in China.

“We live in a globally “connected” context in the true sense of the word from an economic, environmental and health perspective now, more so than ever. There are implications internationally for what we do regionally,” said Rajagopalan, who is also the John W. Wolfe Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Ohio State.

The Environmental Protection Agency named Ohio State’s Medical Center as one of five clean air research centers in the country.  Rajagopalan’s team received $1.6 million over five years to collaborate with researchers from Michigan State University and the University of Michigan as part of the Great Lakes Air Center for Integrative Environmental Research (GLACIER).  They will study the effects of emissions from industry, agriculture and mining on cardiovascular health in the Great Lakes region. This work builds on previous research by Rajagopalan which shows air pollution plays a role in disorders like hypertension, diabetes and obesity.  

A separate $1.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health is allowing Rajagopalan to study how air pollution affects the onset of diabetes in China, where researchers will partner with colleagues from Peking University and Chinese Academy of Medical Science in Beijing. 

“The levels of air pollution are much higher in countries like China compared to the United States and thus it makes an ideal testing ground for the hypothesis that air-pollution may be an important modulator of cardiometabolic disease.  This study will provide some fascinating insights into the onset of type 2 diabetes, which is a huge problem globally,” said Rajagopalan. “In just the last 30 years, the number of adults with type 2 diabetes has more than doubled to almost 350 million people, with nearly half of them living in China and India.  If we can understand the role pollution plays in disease development, we can potentially affect environmental policy.”

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Contact: Marti Leitch, Medical Center Public Affairs and Media Relations, 614-293-3737 or Marti.Leitch@osumc.edu