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Environmental Factor, March 2012

Nano consortium gathers at NIEHS

By Thaddeus Schug

NIEHS Deputy Director Rick Woychik, Ph.D.

NIEHS Deputy Director Rick Woychik, Ph.D., center, welcomed consortium members to NIEHS and stayed to participate in discussions. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Judith Zelikauf, Ph.D. and Sri Nadadur, Ph.D., speaking

Along with the presentations, attendees shared their work in a poster session. Judith Zelikauf, Ph.D., left, of New York University, discussed her group’s  findings with Nadadur. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Despite their small size, engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) continue to generate a great deal of interest at NIEHS. A growing collaboration of researchers making up the NIEHS Centers for Nanotechnology Health Implications Research (NCNHIR) Consortium gathered for research updates Jan. 26-27 at NIEHS.

The NCNHIR Consortium is an interdisciplinary program consisting eight Cooperative Centers along with several other active grantees funded through the Nanotechnology Environmental Health and Safety program. The NIEHS also established contractual agreements with the Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory for nanomaterial characterization and with the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering to create an informational database.

The meeting was the third biannual meeting of this consortium and included presentations regarding individual project research progress by NCNHIR as well as updates on consortium-wide research efforts. The event also included a steering committee meeting in which consortium progress and future directions was discussed.

“It is very encouraging to see so much progress made by these investigators in such a short time period,” said Sri Nadadur, Ph.D., the meeting organizer, program director for the extramural Nanomaterials Environmental Health Safety research program, and the health scientist administrator at NIEHS who oversees much of the Institute's research portfolio on nanomaterials in environmental health and safety. "I am particularly excited to welcome several new grantees to the consortium, and look forward to integration of their research into this collective effort,” added Nadadur.

The newest members of the consortium include Andrij Holian, Ph.D., director of the Center for Environmental Health Sciences at The University of Montana, Robert Tanguay, Ph.D., from Oregon State University, Som Mitra, Ph.D., from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and Frank Witzmann, Ph.D., from Indiana University.

Along with the research proposed to be carried out at their respective centers, these investigators as members of the consortium will work with a set of engineered nanomaterials, widely used in industrial applications with potential for human exposure, collectively nominated by the consortium — silver nanoparticles, cerium dioxide, and multiwall carbon nanotubes. These materials are of several shapes, sizes, and surface coating. All the members of the consortium will carry out investigations with this set of ENMs in their respective in vitro and in vivo models, and then share that data with the investigators developing computational models to predict potential health effects.

The group will meet again at the end of July in Portland, Ore.

(Thaddeus Schug, Ph.D., is a health scientist in the NIEHS Division of Extramural Research and Training and a regular contributor to the Environmental Factor.)


NTP Deputy Division Director for Science Nigel Walker, Ph.D., sitting in the audience

NTP Deputy Division Director for Science Nigel Walker, Ph.D., was one several NIEHS/NTP scientists at the meeting. Walker is the NTP lead on ENM research.(Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)


Ingrid Bergin, V.M.D., pointing to her experiment data, while speaking to Chris Weis, Ph.D.,

Ingrid Bergin, V.M.D., left, discusses her experiments with NIEHS Senior Toxicologist Chris Weis, Ph.D., who is the nano lead in the NIEHS Office of the Director.(Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)


Over head photo of consortium attendees, standing together on the patio

During their morning break, attendees gathered on the patio outside the Rall Building at NIEHS.(Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)


NCNHIR center presentations:

  • Center for Nanobiology and Predictive Toxicology, Andre Nel, M.B.Ch.B., Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles
  • Linking the Physical and Chemical Characteristics of Quantum Dots to their Toxicity, Terrence Kavanagh, Ph.D., University of Washington
  • Center for Estimating Human Health Risk from Exposure to Nanomaterials, Timothy Fennell, Ph.D., RTI International
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) Center for Nanotoxicology, Joel Pounds, Ph.D., PNNL
  • Respiratory Effects of Silver and Carbon Nanomaterials, Junfeng Zhang, Ph.D., University of Southern California
  • Acute and Chronic Effects of Engineered Nanomaterial, Terry Gordon, Ph.D., New York University
  • Biological Responses to Different Types of Carbon Nanotubes, Kent Pinkerton, Ph.D., University of California, Davis
  • Interactions Between Ingested Silver Nanoparticles and the Varying Physicochemical or Microbial Environments of the Gastrointestinal Compartments, Martin Philbert, Ph.D., University of Michigan


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