College of Pharmacy Associate Professor Arezoo Campbell, PhD, was recently awarded grant funding from the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) to study the adverse effects on the brain of particulate matter (PM) present in ambient air pollution.

Campbell’s proposal, titled “Evaluation of Ambient Particulate Matter Neurotoxicity Using Primary Human Brain Cells,” was approved for $577,590 by the BP/South Coast Air Quality Management District (BP/SCAQMD) Public Benefits Programs Oversight Committee.

Campbell, an associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, is the principal investigator for the research project.

Campbell’s lab at WesternU in Pomona, Calif., is investigating the potential of particulate matter, which is present in air pollution, to trigger an inflammatory response in the central nervous system (CNS). In this study, she will evaluate biological responses after human brain cells are exposed to ambient particulate matter collected from a site in Los Angeles.

“If we understand what components of air pollution are really causing adverse health consequences, then we can try to find ways to minimize not only the production of these factors, but also exposure to such factors,” Campbell said. “We want to find out which are the toxic components and reduce their production.”

Her collaborator, Dr. Constantinos Sioutas, a Fred Champion Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at USC, and his postdoctoral scholar, Nancy Daher, are part of a team that will collect and characterize the particulate matter.

As a co-investigator, Sioutas said he is glad to be working with WesternU on such an exciting and timely study.

“These investigations help address unanswered questions, such as whether the central nervous system is another target organ for inhaled ultrafine particles — main products of urban vehicular traffic,” he said.