Hyunok Choi, Ph.D., MPH

Associate Professor
hyc219@lehigh.edu
(610) 758-2626
Office: STEPS 264

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Dr. Hyunok Choi’s research focuses on children’s prenatal and postnatal exposures to indoor and outdoor environmental pollution, and their risks on a series of developmental consequences, including adverse birth outcomes, asthma, and obesity.  However, as human well-being and illness occur through exquisitely intricate interactions with the environment in which the person lives, Dr. Choi investigates a health outcome as a process involving molecular- (such as epigenomic and transcriptomic markers), host susceptibility- (such as body mass index), clinical, environmental (such as air pollutant levels), and meteorologic (such as temperature, wind speed) factors across time and space.  Understanding such process is not so different from looking at Hieronymus Bosch’s painting, the so-called ‘Garden of Earthly Delight’, which interprets the processes human existence in three pieces.  Dr. Choi’s long-term goal is to train the next generation of scientists to translate environmentally driven genomic mechanisms into both macro- (e.g. policy translation, community engagement) as well as micro- (e.g. molecular biomarker development) solutions.  In her spare time, Dr. Choi likes to roam in art museums, mulling over the ways in which paintings and sculptures help us to understand disease processes better. 

Education

  • Harvard School of Public Health, postdoctoral research associate
  • Columbia University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, PhD
  • Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, MPH
  • Barnard College, Columbia University, BA

Areas of Research and Publications

Air pollution; fossil-fuel; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; benzo[a]pyrene; children’s health; obesity; asthma; adverse birth outcomes; systems biology; mechanism; endotype; oxidative stress; network biology; integrative -OMICs, exposome.

 

During the period between conception and death, humans engage in dynamic negotiations with the environment by being exposed to complex mixtures of chemicals and responding to such cues through network-based molecular responses. Dr. Choi's research goal is to explain the mystery of childhood illnesses as a function of environmental chemical exposures and coordinated genomic perturbations.  

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