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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Environmental Health

Track in Toxicology, Physiology and Molecular Mechanisms

Offered By: Department of Environmental Health and Engineering

In-person | Full-Time | 5 years

About This Track

Chronic diseases such as COPD, asthma, cancer, pulmonary fibrosis, and cardiovascular diseases are major causes of morbidity and mortality, and environmental exposures are the key drivers of these diseases. Research in the Toxicology, Physiology and Molecular Mechanisms (TPMM) track is focused on discovering novel molecular mechanisms that drive the pathophysiology of major chronic diseases, with the goal of developing prevention and therapeutic strategies to improve public health. The track is supported by NIEHS and NHLBI research training grants.

Students in this track will engage in academic training in specific areas of environmental health with in-depth courses in molecular, toxicologic, physiologic, immunologic, and pathophysiologic sciences. Prior to focusing on a specific area of thesis research, they will also obtain a broad background in environmental health sciences by taking core courses that underlie its scientific basis. During the first year, students will begin to engage in research by doing lab rotations with selected faculty. Training in writing scientific papers and grant proposals is also included in the curriculum.

The research done by PhD students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty has led directly to an enhanced understanding of the biological changes that represent the early stages and progression of many chronic diseases. The track is aimed towards creating the next generation of scientists with laboratory skills to tackle complex environmental effects in individuals and in the population. Graduates can look forward to successful careers in academic or industrial research and government or regulatory agencies.

TPMM Track Advising Faculty

Joseph P. Bressler, PhD; Neurotoxicology

John D. Groopman, PhD; Molecular biomarkers of environmental carcinogens and chemoprevention

Thomas Hartung, MD, PhD; Developmental neurotoxicity, immunotoxicity & endocrine disruption with integrated omics-technologies

Mark Kohr, PhD; Sex-dependent differences in cardiovascular physiology and disease; redox signaling mechanisms

Fenna Sillé, PhD, MS; Developmental immunotoxicity in the context of chronic/infectious diseases & vaccine efficacy

TPMM Program Faculty

Shyam Biswal, PhD; Molecular mechanisms, pathophysiology and therapeutics of COPD and lung cancer

Robert Brown, MD; Asthma and COPD in humans, Lung imaging

Robert A Casero, PhD; Role of polyamine catabolism in inflammation-associated carcinogenesis

Valeria Culotta; PhD; Pathogens and metal toxicity

Rachel Damico, MD; Role of the pulmonary endothelium in lung disease

Sharon McGrath-Morrow, MD; Pediatric lung diseases

Alan Scott, PhD; Immunology of lung disease

James Sham, PhD; Cardiac and pulmonary vascular cell physiology  

Ramana Sidhaye, MD; Quantitative changes in lung epithelial structure and function in response to environmental insults

Lena Smirnova, PhD: microRNA; developmental neurotoxicology; gene environmental interactions; in vitro toxicology; iPSC-derived brain models

Robert Wise, MD; Pathogenesis of COPD

Marsha Wills-Karp, PhD; Genetic and environmental mechanisms of asthma and allergy


Browse an overview of this program's requirements in the JHU Academic Catalogue - See Track Requirements for Toxicology, Physiology & Molecular Mechanisms.

Tuition and Funding

All full-time PhD students will receive the following support for the first five years of the program: full tuition, stipend, individual health insurance, University Health Services clinic fee, vision insurance, and dental insurance.

Need-Based Relocation Grants
Students who are admitted to PhD programs at JHU starting in Fall 2023 or beyond can apply to receive a $1500 need-based grant to offset the costs of relocating to be able to attend JHU. These grants provide funding to a portion of incoming students who, without this money, may otherwise not be able to afford to relocate to JHU for their PhD program. This is not a merit-based grant. Applications will be evaluated solely based on financial need. View more information about the need-based relocation grants for PhD students.

Contact Us

Questions about the program? We're happy to help.

Program Directors
Thomas Hartung, MD
Mark Kohr, PhD