Environmental Factor, December 2008, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Taking Research from the Bench to the Community
By Denise Moreno Ramírez and Eddy Ball
This fall the Superfund Basic Research Program (SBRP) at the University of Arizona (UA) once again focused its Binational Center translation and outreach core activities on communities across the border in Mexico. On October 27 – 28, the program held its sixth Specialized Workshop in Ciudad Obregón in the state of Sonora. It was attended by 236 Mexican students, faculty and senior investigators, health advocates and governmental personnel.
The workshop, titled “Health Impacts, Management and Treatment of the Most Prevalent Contaminants in Southern Sonora,” was conducted on the campus of the Instituto Tecnológico de Sonora (ITSON). The workshop’s goal was to provide the attendees with the most pertinent scientific information emerging from years of research funded by NIEHS, EPA and other sources and conducted by the UA SBRP (http://superfund.pharmacy.arizona.edu/) and collaborators in Mexico.
The training included fifteen sessions taught by UA and ITSON scientists and their colleagues from the Mexican government and two additional Mexican research institutions — the Universidad Autónoma de Coahuila (UAC) and Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada (CICESE).
The focus of the workshop was regional environmental and health impacts in southern Sonora. The program was divided into three sessions:
- Arsenic Toxicology and Treatment of Water — Focusing on the toxicology of arsenic and its carcinogenicity, its presence in water and dust, and remediation in potable water sources
- Solid Waste and Municipal Landfills — Exploring the environmental engineering perspective on landfills and a pilot project at the Ensenada municipal landfill
- Pesticides — Surveying the impact of pesticides in the Yaqui Valley and the human health effects of exposures to individual pesticides and mixes
The workshop also included a special promotora training session that targeted health workers involved in outreach activities with Yaqui indigenous communities emphasizing the fundamentals of toxicology and research ethics when working with human subjects.
The conference concluded with remarkes by ITSON president, Gonzalo Rodríguez Villanueva, Ph.D., stressing the importance of collaborative binational investigations. He pointed to the accomplishments of the collaboration of Mexican researchers with the UA U.S.-Mexico Binational Center for Environmental Sciences and Toxicology (http://binational.pharmacy.arizona.edu/), which helped to train three of the Mexican scientists speaking at the conference. The three U.S. researchers presenting at the workshop are SBRP-funded investigators who serve as mentors of Binational Center trainees and fellows.
(Denise Moreno Ramírez serves as coordinator of the UA SBRP Community Outreach Core and U.S.-Mexico Binational Center.)