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NIEHS Introduces Innovative Weekly Lecture Series

By Eddy Ball
April 2007

Frontiers in Environmental Sciences

Chris Portier
Portier opened the series on March 9, launching an initiative by the Office of the Director to enhance exchange of information and ideas throughout the Institute. The new lecture program will maximize its resources by focusing on Triangle-area researchers, many of them grantees. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

On March 9, NIEHS launched its newest lecture program with the first talk in the Frontiers in Environmental Sciences (FES) series in Rodbell Auditorium. The Institute has introduced this latest lecture program with the intention of fostering a spirit of interdisciplinary communication among researchers at NIEHS, engaging them in discourse about the environmental science mission they all share. With a few exceptions, talks in the weekly lecture series will take place on Friday mornings from 9:00 am to 10:00 am.

Like its sister NIH institutes and centers, NIEHS has long sponsored a diverse mix of regularly scheduled scientific talks. However, unlike the lectures and special presentations sponsored by research divisions, programs and individual laboratories, the FES series will cross organizational borders by featuring talks sponsored by scientists and administrators throughout the Institute.

The inaugural lecture featured a talk by Daniel Baden, Ph.D. Baden is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Marine Sciences and director of the Center for Marine Science at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW). He has been an NIEHS grantee continuously since 1979.

The host for the first lecture in the series was Gwen Collman, Ph.D., chief of the DERT Susceptibility and Population Health Branch. In 2006, DERT awarded Baden a five-year competitive renewal to further delve into the acute and chronic effects of inhaling toxic particles generated by red tides on Florida's west coast.

Director of the Office of Risk Assessment and the series' coordinator Chris Portier, Ph.D., delivered the series' inaugural remarks. "This seminar series is intended as a time for the Institute to get together and listen to a talk that is of broad, general interest," Portier explained, "and then, maybe, stimulate some discussion amongst ourselves of what this means to our own research and how it fits into the broader scheme of environmental health sciences."

When NIEHS Director David A. Schwartz, M.D., announced the weekly series, he described it "as an opportunity for the federal scientific community to interact, share ideas, and strengthen our overall sense of community." The series, he said, will focus on speakers who are now or have been NIEHS grantees and will feature primarily local scientists - taking advantage of the abundant scientific resources in the Triangle.

A unique element of the new series, according to Kristina Thayer, Ph.D., deputy director of the Office of Risk Assessment Research, is the FES website that will archive recordings for many of the lectures when the speakers give permission. The site offers webcasts and podcasts beginning the afternoon of a lecture for people who are not able to attend. The website will also post PowerPoint presentations of the talks and provide an opportunity for many people, both inside and outside the Institute, to view the lectures. RSS feeds are under development and will be available soon.

March Lectures

  • March 9: Daniel Baden, Ph.D., UNC-Wilmington, "From Beach to Bedside: Effects of Inhaled Florida Red Tide Brevetoxins." Hosted by Gwen Collman, Ph.D.
  • March 16: Nancy Monteiro-Riviere, Ph.D., NCSU, "Nanomaterials: Is Toxicology Really an Issue?" Hosted by Nigel Walker, Ph.D.
  • March 23: Douglas Crawford-Brown, Ph.D., UNC-CH, "Where Do You Want to Live? Designing Sustainable Communities as a Health and Environmental Strategy." Hosted by Chris Portier, Ph.D.
  • March 30: Fernando Pardo-Manuel de Villena, Ph.D., UNC-CH, "On the Origin of the Laboratory Mouse: Lessons from the NIEHS Resequencing Project." Hosted by Bill Schrader, Ph.D.

Tentative Schedule of Upcoming Lectures in April

  • April 6: William Kaufmann, Ph.D., UNC-CH, Topic TBA. Hosted by Chris Portier, Ph.D.
  • April 13: David Armstrong, Ph.D., NIEHS, "Endocrine Disruption of Thyroid Hormone Signaling and Its Implications for Human Health." Host TBA.
  • April 20: James Swenberg, D.V.M., Ph.D., UNC-CH, Topic TBA. Hosted by James Huff, Ph.D.
  • April 27: Richard Di Giulio, Ph.D., Duke, Topic TBA. Hosted by Chris Portier, Ph.D.


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