The research program started in 2011 under the umbrella of the World Trade Center (WTC) Health & Wellness Study. The purpose of this study is to examine the complexity of health issues experienced by WTC responders following their involvement in the rescue, recovery and/or clean-up effort after the 9/11 WTC disaster. The ultimate goal is to understand the health effects of the WTC disaster—including how these health issues relate to each other and develop strategies to target WTC-related illnesses. The study involves using health data collected during WTC Health Program exams, physical and cognitive assessments, surveys, and research blood draws.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Respiratory Condition Studies
This research focuses on identifying PTSD in WTC responders and determining the impact of the condition on biological and behavioral functioning. The long-term goal is to develop strategies for WTC responders to improve their health.
Our aging studies highlight the impact of the 9/11 disaster on the mental and physical aging of responders. These studies assess outcomes such as cognitive impairment, neuroinflammation, abnormal brain deposits, and brain aging.
Biological Pathway Studies
The studies that examine changes in biological pathways post-exposure to Ground Zero, target conditions such as prostate cancer, chronic kidney disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, chronic hematopoiesis, and abnormal protein deposits in the blood.
Our treatment studies focus on developing and implementing effective treatments to remedy some of the health impacts of 9/11 exposure for responders. These interventions include health and nutrition education programs; smoking cessation; and mind-body treatment—which focuses on the relationships among the brain, mind, body, and behavior, and their effect on health and disease.
The narrative studies center around documenting the experiences and stories of those who bore witness to the 9/11 disaster for future generations, as well as using advanced technology to predict psychological changes over time based on language and facial expression analysis.
Ultimately, the Oral History Project will serve as the largest collection of eyewitness testimony of the 9/11 disaster response effort and its impact on the people involved. These unique and powerful videotaped oral histories will be captured and stored at the Library of Congress and open to the public.
The COVID-19 study evaluates the prevalence of WTC responders infected by the COVID-19 virus. Presently, researchers continue to assess outcomes such as disease severity and long-term health effects among COVID-19 responders who are members of our program. The study will also use genomic data to identify genetic risk factors for severe COVID-19 and negative post-COVID health outcomes.
Hurricane Sandy Studies
The Hurricane Sandy studies queried WTC responders to assess the impact of additional environmental toxin exposure, among those impacted by the hurricane, on their respiratory and mental health. These studies also incorporated a resiliency training program aimed at improve responders’ resilience before exposure to future disasters to enable them to better manage the consequences of these unforeseen, sometimes tragic, events.