With a generous grant in 2009 from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the Children's Environmental Health Sciences Core Center was created. It is a partnership between the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) and the Children's Research Institute (CRI) and is one of approximately 17 NIEHS-supported centers in the United States. Prior to receiving this grant, the Milwaukee Center was known as the Children's Environmental Health Initiative, and was devoted to understanding the environmental contributions to childhood diseases—and with this knowledge—finding ways to prevent them. Beginning in the 1970s, this work was one of the first of its kind in the country. Today, this work continues with our dedicated staff.
In the late 80s federal funding was met with generous matching funds from UWM to help remodel the Center's primary research space at the Great Lakes WATER Institute. Deputy Director David Petering became the principal investigator and continues today as its director. The Center's capacity increased enormously as the University committed itself to hiring a number of scientists at the WATER Institute. With its focus on studying zebrafish for developmental toxicological studies, the Center engaged the Medical College of Wisconsin's Pediatric Department at the Children's Research Institute of Children's Hospital and Health Systems, in discussions about linking the expertise in basic developmental toxicology with their expertise with clinical childhood disease. Instead of viewing aquatic models as a separate niche area, the goal was to mainstream these systems.
Today, the Center's partners at MCW and the CRI provide a Molecular Biology Core Laboratory and a first-rate microscopic imaging unit. The laboratories at the WATER Institute were greatly improved with the addition of a neurobehavioral toxicology laboratory. All of these enhancements aid in the support of first-class research.