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Fellows Recognized at Regional Showcase in Cincinnati

By Elizabeth Kopras
October 2009

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This poster competition judge from Woodward Career Technical High School was clearly caught up in the spirit of scientific inquiry as he marks his rating form. (Photo courtesy of Dan Davenport and
UC Communications Services)

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Best overall poster winner Fedoria Rugless, left, impressed the Woodward judges by supplementing her poster with a demonstration of computerized postural sway to measure subclinical neurotoxicity. Rugless is training under the UC T32 Molecular Epidemiology in Children's Environmental Health directed by Grace LeMasters, Ph.D. (Photo courtesy of Dan Davenport and UC Communications Services)

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Senior investigators, left, pondered the findings presented in Nathaniel Holcomb's comparative study of arsenic's inhibition of the nucleotide excision repair pathway in human and mouse cells. Holcombe is a trainee in the NIEHS-funded program at the University of Kentucky. (Photo courtesy of Dan Davenport and
UC Communications Services)

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During the afternoon session, Elisia Tichy, Ph.D., discussed the role of double-strand break response in embryonic stem cell mutagenesis. Tichy is part of the UC T32 Environmental Carcinogenesis and Mutagenesis Program directed by Peter J. Stambrook, Ph.D. (Photo courtesy of Dan Davenport and
UC Communications Services)

The University of Cincinnati (UC) Center for Environmental Genetics (CEG) joined with other NIEHS-supported training programs, Centers and Superfund Research Programs to celebrate the first Environmental Health Sciences Regional Showcase of Fellows on September 18 at UC. The event provided an opportunity for early career scientists to present their work while networking with other environmental health scientists in the Ohio-Kentucky-Michigan region.

On hand to show the Institute's support for this novel initiative were NIEHS Program Administrators David Balshaw, Ph.D., of the Center for Risk and Integrated Sciences(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/supported/dert/cris/index.cfm), and Carol Shreffler, Ph.D., who oversees the Institute's training grants.

Seven NIEHS-supported T32 training program directors and the CEG (http://www.eh.uc.edu/ceg/)Exit NIEHS Career Development Core each invited an Exemplary Fellow to represent their programs, while thirty other NIEHS-supported trainees presented posters describing their research (see text box). The expertise of the fellows spanned the career development range, from graduate students to junior faculty, including NIEHS K99 and K22 early-career support recipients.

Students from the Health Technologies Program at Cincinnati's Woodward Career Technical High School (http://woodwardcareertech.cps-k12.org/)Exit NIEHS , under the direction of Tracy Greeley and Sarah Woodward, were invited to the Showcase as part of the UC Department of Environmental Health initiative, which works to encourage interest in environmental health sciences research among students at every level. Organizers hope that exposing this group to environmental health sciences research will inspire some of them to pursue a career in the field.

Kicking off the morning session, which was co-chaired by UC Professor and NIEHS-funded Principal Investigator Grace LeMasters, Ph.D. (http://healthnews.uc.edu/experts/?/2286/)Exit NIEHS , and trainee Nicholas Newman, D.O., Balshaw presented a keynote address on "Use of Emerging Technologies to Build Capacity in Exposure Biology and Gene, Environment, and Health Interactions." He presented an overview of NIH and NIEHS to the standing-room-only crowd and described several new methods under development for more accurately characterizing personal exposure to environmental toxicants.

The event's poster session was designed to encourage introductions and networking experiences. CEG staff made every effort to assign each poster presenter at least one judge who was an established investigator from a different university with appropriate expertise to discuss the fellow's research, and perhaps give some insight into future collaborations. This was possible thanks to support from participating senior investigators, such as David Hein, Ph.D., and Rong Wan, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Louisville, and Young Lin, D.V.M., Ph.D., of The Ohio State University.

The afternoon session was co-chaired by Mary Vore, Ph.D., and Donna Coy, both from the University of Kentucky (UK). Shreffler chaired a career development panel discussion that included NIEHS-funded investigators Vore, Ranjan Deka, Ph.D., Erin Haynes, Dr.PH., and Michael Borchers, Ph.D., an NIEHS Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) awardee. Each panelist added his or her unique point of view on career development and the future of environmental health research. Shreffler reviewed employment statistics to assure the crowd that there will be jobs available in environmental health sciences in coming years.

Evaluations collected at the end of the day confirmed that the majority of attendees intend or prefer to remain in the region - underscoring the need for more center activities designed to provide networking opportunities for environmental health scientists in the Midwest. Future events will be organized to offer time for more extensive interaction among established investigators and early career fellows.

(Elizabeth Kopras is a junior research associate in the Department of Environmental Health and program coordinator for the Center for Environmental Genetics at UC.)

Fellows Recognized

  • Eric Brandt, Ph.D., Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center (http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/)Exit NIEHS, Impact of Early Life Diesel Exposure on Immune Patterning, Lung Development, and Function
  • Erica Sparkenbaugh, Michigan State University (MSU), The cytotoxic interaction of hypoxia and elastase in a murine hepatoma cell line
  • Stephen Adjei, M.D., UC, Cerium pneumoconiosis: A case report
  • Deanna Edwards, UK, Chronic cisplatin treatment accelerates premature senescence of normal human fibroblasts
  • Erica Rogers, University of Louisville, Curcumin Regulates Cell Cycle Progression in Response to DNA Damage
  • Elisia Tichy, Ph.D., UC, Suppressing Mutation in Embryonic Stem Cells
  • Devon Graham, Ph.D., Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Effects of developmental lead (Pb2+) and barren cage rearing in rats on corticosterone levels and monoamines
  • Greg Motz, UC, NK Cell Activation in Mouse Model of COPD

Poster winners, as judged by students from Woodward

  • Best poster design: Pamela Heckel, PhD, UC. "Novel approaches to estimate ambient mercury exposures"
  • Best research description: Wan-yee Tang, Ph.D., UC, "Early developmental exposures to estrogens/bisphenol A impact a specific prostate epigenome"
  • Best overall poster and presentation: Fedoria Rugless, UC, "Airborne Manganese Exposure and Postural Balance in Children."

Poster Winners, as judged by fellows and established investigators

  1. Elisabet Johansson, Ph.D., UC, "Quantitative PCR analysis of Streptomyces in household dust from homes in the Cincinnati area"
  2. Nicholas Newman, D.O. UC, "Is Ultrafine Particle Exposure Associated with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Children?"
  3. Aaron M. Fullerton, Michigan State University, "TCDD enhances inflammatory liver injury in response to concanavalin A administration."


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