Maternal and Developmental Risks from Environmental and Social Stressors (MADRES) Center for Environmental Health Disparities

EPA Grant Number: R836158
Center: Maternal and Developmental Risks from Environmental and Social Stressors
Center Director: Gilliland, Frank D.
Title: Maternal and Developmental Risks from Environmental and Social Stressors (MADRES) Center for Environmental Health Disparities
Investigators: Gilliland, Frank D. , Bastain, Theresa Frilund , Cockburn, Myles G , Dunton, Genevieve Frilund , Hricko, Andrea M. , Van Doren Breton, Carrie
Institution: University of Southern California
EPA Project Officer: Callan, Richard
Project Period: July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2020
Project Amount: $1,500,000
RFA: NIH/EPA Centers of Excellence on Environmental Health Disparities Research (2015) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Health


Eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in obesity is a national priority, especially given the numerous adverse cardio-metabolic consequences. By age 2, Hispanic children are nearly twice as likely to have a weight-for- length value >95th percentile compared to non-Hispanic white children. Rates of pregnancy-related obesity are also disproportionately high among Hispanic women. At the same time, over 19% of the California's Hispanic population resides in one of the 10% most environmentally-burdened communities, while fewer than 3% of the state's white population lives in those communities. These data confirm striking environmental and health disparities affecting Hispanics that are not well understood. To address these underlying disparities, we propose to establish the “Maternal And Developmental Risks from Environmental and Social Stressors (MADRES)” Center for Environmental Health Disparities in a large, prospective pregnancy cohort of lower income, predominantly Hispanic women in Los Angeles. Understanding causes of childhood obesity, excessive gestational weight gain and postpartum weight retention among minority and low-income children and mothers, respectively, is necessary to reduce the disproportionate burden of disease born by these individuals. The proposed MADRES Center will examine whether environmental exposures (including air pollution, metals, water contaminants, and toxic releases), coupled with exposures to psychosocial and built environment stressors, lead to excessive gestational weight gain and postpartum weight retention in women and to perturbed infant growth trajectories and increased childhood obesity risk through altered psychological, behavioral and/or metabolic responses. In order to uncover key mechanistic targets for policy, clinical, and programmatic intervention, we propose cutting-edge technologies of cortisol assessment and abdominal fat quantification, real-time data collection using ecological momentary assessment, state-of- the-art statistical methods, and novel methods for evaluating mitochondrial function. As current treatment strategies often target individuals who are already obese and have met with mixed success in minority populations, alternative strategies aimed at preventing the risk factors driving obesity are urgently needed. The MADRES Center proposes two highly-innovative Research Projects, a strong Community Engagement Core, a Population Core, an Exposure Core, and an Administrative Core with a robust Career Development Program. The MADRES Center brings together clinical, environmental, social and public health scientists and community engagement professionals to enhance a world-class research and outreach program in environmental health disparities. Our collaborative, integrated, multi-disciplinary approach will efficiently address key gaps in the knowledge base needed for timely and effective disease prevention strategies, better transportation and urban design policies, and recommendations for stress-coping strategies and behaviors to reduce infant and lifelong obesity risk and its metabolic consequences. 

Journal Articles: 1 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other center views: All 2 publications 1 publications in selected types All 1 journal articles
Type Citation Sub Project Document Sources
Journal Article Alderete TL, Song AY, Bastain T, Habre R, Toledo-Corral CM, Salam MT, Lurmann F, Gilliland FD, Breton CV. Prenatal traffic-related air pollution exposures, cord blood adipokines and infant weight. Pediatric Obesity 2018:13(6):348-356. R836158 (2017)
R836158 (2018)
R835441 (2018)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Full-text: Wiley-Full Text PDF
  • Abstract: Wiley-Abstract
  • Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2016 Progress Report
  • 2017 Progress Report
  • 2018 Progress Report
  • Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R836158C001 Cumulative prenatal and infant environmental exposures and early childhood obesity risk
    R836158C002 Environmental Exposures, Stress, and Maternal Pregnancy-Related Weight Outcomes