Todd Wyatt, PhD is a professor with a primary appointment in the College of Public Health, Department of Environmental, Agricultural and Occupational Health. He also has appointments as professor in the College of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, Sleep & Allergy and serves as a Research Career Scientist at the VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Healthcare System.
Dr. Wyatt’s research into the effects of organic dust exposure on lung function, like that experienced by agricultural workers in confined animal feeding operations, is funded in part by the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (CS-CASH). Organic dust is known to cause pulmonary inflammation in some workers. Dr. Wyatt’s studies are beginning to unveil how and why this occurs. His research in this area emphasizes two major public health problems facing Nebraska today: alcohol abuse and cigarette smoking. Chronic exposure to alcohol and/or cigarette smoke significantly impairs normal lung defenses against inhaled environmental toxins and pollutants. The long-term goal is to understand why some people exposed to confined-animal dusts have more severe diseases of the lung and to examine the impact of combination exposures in the workplace when dust-exposed workers both smoke and drink alcohol.
Understanding the biological mechanisms and the confounding agents involved in lung disease caused by exposure to organic dust will lead to the development of more effective therapies and prevention modalities.