Butsch Kovacic Lab

  • Current Projects

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    + Pediatric Environmental Exposure Study

    Our Pediatric Environmental Exposure Study (PEES) is a 400 child case-control study that is evaluating associations between environmental exposures and biomarkers of oxidative stress and whether or not these biomarkers will better predict risk of severe/uncontrolled childhood asthma compared to parental report of exposure alone (previous NIEHS R21 and CCTST KL2). Exposures include diesel exhaust particle and second hand tobacco smoke exposures, as well as obesity levels. Biomarkers of inflammation and antioxidant status, genetic and socioeconomic factors, and DNA methylation patterns are being considered. Collaborators include Dr. Lisa Martin in the Division of Molecular Genetics, Drs. Gurjit Khurana Hershey, Jocelyn Biagini Myers and Hong Ji in the Division of Asthma Research, Dr. Patrick Ryan in the Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Dr. Tianying Wu in the Department of Environmental Health at UC.

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    + Community- Based Participatory Research

    As her preliminary data in PEES revealed strong associations between health outcomes, biomarkers of oxidative stress and socioeconomic factors, we have partnered with Cincinnati’s CoreChange a grassroots advocacy group, and Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses Center a full service social service agency and community center in the West End of Cincinnati, to expand our research into the community using a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach. To this end, we have utilized a $25K gift to implement a community-based research registry, needs assessments using a child-centered PhotoVoice approach and adult focus groups and begin a summer peer health COACH (Coaching on Achieving Community Health) program. To support the Seven Hills Center and buttress research efforts, we have partnered with numerous colleges across the University of Cincinnati to form “Ucore7H”. Ucore7H partners include Dr. Gwendolyn Yip-Ono – Community Philanthropist, Dr. Victor Garcia Division of Pediatric Surgery and Co-founder of CoreChange, Mr. Michael Sharp - Director for UC’s Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement, Dr. Liam Ream in the UC’s Division of Professional Practice, Dr. Gisela Esco - UC’s Vice Provost for Assessment and Student Learning and Dr. Tina Whalen – Vice Dean of the School of Allied Health and many others.


    + Health Literacy & Interventions

    As low income families also experience low literacy, we have evaluated associations between low literacy and asthma control in PEES children ages 4 to 11 years. As an extension of this project, we are collaborating with clinicians targeting low-income and low-literacy caregivers of hospitalized asthmatic children to develop unique multimedia discharge materials that will improve use and sharing of asthma action plans, improve correct use of asthma inhalers and increase asthma control (funding from previous Schroth Foundation grant). Partners include Dr. Carolyn Kercsmar the director of Asthma Center and co-director of the Pediatric Pulmonology Division, Dr. Jeffrey Simmons in General and Community Pediatrics, Dr. Lisa Vaughn in the Emergency Medicine, and Dr. Michael Seid in the Division of Pulmonary Medicine.


    + Human Papillomavirus & Fanconi Anemia

    We are currently enrolling for our longitudinal epidemiological study seeking to evaluate environmental and sexual exposure to human papillomavirus (HPV) in families with children diagnosed with Fanconi anemia (current NHLBI R01 and foundation grants). Individuals with Fanconi anemia are genetically vulnerable to squamous head and neck cancers previously shown to be positively associated with HPV. Our team is testing for oral HPV DNA, HPV serological markers as well as markers of immune response. In addition, we are collecting urine samples for NMR/metabolomic studies in collaboration with Dr. Susan Wells in the Hematology/Oncology at CCHMC. As part of this study, we regularly interact with a community of families associated with the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund, a strong parent led advocacy group focused on the improving the lives of children with Fanconi anemia, to design, optimize and disseminate the findings from our study. Other collaborators include Dr. Stella Davies, Dr. Parinda Mehta, and Dr. Kasiani Myers all in the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at CCHMC, Dr. Darron Brown, Director of the Indiana University Center for Vaccine Research, Dr. Rachel Winer at the University of Washington and Dr. Denise Galloway at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

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