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Graziano Chosen NIEHS Liaison to Council of Councils

By Eddy Ball
May 2008

Graziano, shown here at the September 2007 NAEHSC meeting in Rodbell Auditorium, is a tireless advocate for children's health. He is also involved in NIEHS Global Environmental Health initiatives.
Graziano, shown here at the September 2007 NAEHSC meeting in Rodbell Auditorium, is a tireless advocate for children's health. He is also involved in NIEHS Global Environmental Health initiatives. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

When the NIH Council of Councils held its first meeting March 31 - April 1 on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Md., NIEHS was represented by long-time extramural grantee and Council member Joseph Graziano, Ph.D. Graziano is one of 27 liaisons representing advisory councils at NIH institutes and centers.

The Council of Councils was established by the NIH Reform Act of 2006 to guide trans-NIH priorities. Currently, NIEHS is involved in the leadership of two such priorities, the trans-NIH Epigenomics Initiative and the Genes, Environment and Health Initiative.

The group will also advise the NIH director on matters related to the policies and activities of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI) and the Office of Portfolio Analysis and Strategic Initiatives (OPASI).

The reform act, described by OPASI as "the first omnibus reauthorization of NIH in 14 years," established the DPCPSI, the use of a common fund for trans-NIH initiatives and a Scientific Management Review Board to oversee evaluation of organizational structures and authorities that may be used for improvements.

In the NIH press release announcing the appointments, NIH Director Elias Zerhouni, M.D., described what he expected of the new Council. "My charge to the Council is to be bold and define experiments that engage the community that NIH can do and fund reasonably," he said. "The Council should foster incubation of new ideas and build resources as needed, all driven by analysis of the science."

Graziano is the associate dean for research and a professor in the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York. He also holds an appointment as professor of pharmacology in the university's College of Physicians and Surgeons. He is the principal investigator and project leader for several NIEHS extramural grants and a member of the NIEHS National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council (NAEHSC).

Graziano is involved in research concerning childhood lead poisoning, mercury exposure, iron metabolism and toxicity and arsenic exposure from drinking water. He was the founding director of the NIEHS Center for Environmental Health in Northern Manhattan, where he directs the Trace Metal Core Laboratory.

Among his many scientific accomplishments are his lab's development of the oral chelator for lead, known as DMSA or Succimer, and his ground-breaking research into arsenic exposure in Bangladesh. Succimer was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1991, and Graziano has translated his research findings in Bangladesh into strategies for reducing the population's exposure to arsenic in the drinking water.



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