The DeWitt Laboratory in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the Brody School of Medicine focuses on environmental contaminants and the role that they play in affecting health. Much of our focus is on how contaminants alter the developing immune system and how these changes to the immune system influence the developing brain. By looking at this “neuroimmune interface,” and how it is impacted by contaminants, we hope to further our understanding of diseases and disorders such as autism spectrum disorders and Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders that we believe are responsive to early-life immune influences. Most of the contaminants we study are considered “emerging contaminants” in the aquatic environment. Emerging contaminants are agents that are either newly discovered in the environment or in people or that lack information on the extent of their contamination or toxicity. Therefore, a parallel goal of the laboratory is to describe toxicity associated with exposure to emerging contaminants to better understand their potential health effects. These contaminants include per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) as well as pharmaceutical and personal care product pollutants (PPCPs). We also have published studies on the toxicity of heavy metals and geogenic dusts that contain heavy metals.
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