Environmental Factor, October 2005, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Town Meeting Held in RTP
By Colleen Chandler
NIEHS held a town meeting and public forum Sept. 11 in conjunction with the 22nd International Neurotoxiciology Conference.
The town meeting was intended to stimulate dialogue among the public, public-health officials, practitioners and policy makers. As part of that meeting, a variety of informational presentations provided updates on biomedical research, with a focus on neurological disorders including Alzheimer's and autism.
Jean Harry, a neurotoxicologist at NIEHS, discussed environmental exposures and the role they play in combination with genetics, underlying disease and aging. NIEHS Director David Schwartz delivered the keynote address, "Role of NIEHS in Improving the Public's Environmental Health."
While NIEHS has made a number of substantial contributions to biomedical research, the institute needs to tighten its focus, Schwartz said.
Schwartz has established a strategic planning group, which will begin meeting this month to draft a strategic plan. The draft document will be posted for public comment in the Federal Register before it is finalized. The final version is expected sometime in early 2006, he said.
The event concluded with presentations by advocacy group representatives and local leaders in public health. A panel, moderated by local anchor, ABC 11's Anthony Wilson, took questions and provided input on science issues relative to education and public policy. Panelists from Duke University, North Carolina Central University, Wake Forest University, the state health department and a community group in Tillery, N.C., talked about PCBs in Lake Crabtree, hog farms and health, farm workers and pesticides, lead mapping in Durham, and environmental justice.