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UK-CARES Strategic VisionThe University of Kentucky Center for Appalachian Research in Environmental Sciences (UK-CARES) is a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Core Center to enhance research capacity focused on major environmental health impacts to air and water quality that have been implicated in environmentally induced disease. This center will provide advanced infrastructure and leading expertise, dedicated career development and mentorship, and community-engaged interactions to facilitate innovative discovery and new understandings of environmental factors in disease initiation, progression, and outcomes and their community impacts.

The central hypothesis is that toxic environmental agents are contributors to the disproportionately high incidence of chronic diseases, including, cancers, cardiopulmonary disease, and metabolic disorders in Appalachian Kentucky and that the impacts of early exposure are especially harmful. UK-CARES draws on a strong and diverse base of environmental health science and community-engaged research to build environmental health research capacity to meet the needs of communities in three Area Development Districts in southeastern Kentucky: Big Sandy, Cumberland Valley, and Kentucky River. Center members conduct environmental health research across the three scientific theme areas: Air, Water, and Emerging Threats.

The Integrative Health Sciences Facility, Analytical, and Community Engagement Cores along with the Career Development and Pilot Project Programs are integral to this effort and will catalyze multi-directional translation across the whole spectrum of research; provide advanced analytical support in metabolomics, computational biology, analytical chemistry, biospecimen management, and bioinformatics; and bridge center and community priorities. Complementary activities in career development of scientists who are interested in tackling challenging environmental health questions and pilot project funding will support developing research and evolving scientific directions.