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Your Environment. Your Health.

Joseph Graziano, Ph.D.

29 September 2005

Dr. Joseph Graziano's research career has been devoted to understanding the consequences of exposure to metals, both on the molecular and population levels. Human exposure to metals occurs via a number of different scenarios that include exposure in the workplace; in the home, such as lead paint, or arsenic in drinking water; or outdoors due to airborne emissions from industry or transportation vehicles. In the past, Dr. Graziano's research was almost entirely devoted to lead poisoning, which has contributed to understanding the adverse effects of lead exposure on childhood development. As a pharmacologist, his laboratory developed the oral drug that is now used to treat children with lead poisoning.

 

More recently, Dr. Graziano's work has taken him to Bangladesh, where his current research is aimed at understanding the consequences of arsenic exposure on the Bangladeshi population, and on devising strategies to reduce toxicity and provide arsenic-free drinking water, a problem that spans beyond the political borders of Bangladesh to much of South Asia, from India to Vietnam. Recent findings that both arsenic and manganese, both elevated in Bangladesh drinking water, are associated with cognitive deficits in children, add urgency to solving this enormous public health and environmental problem.

 

What initially attracted you to a career in science?

 

How did your career eM.P.H.asis in public health develop?

 

Arsenic in groundwater in Bangladesh presents a frightening dilemma. On the one hand, the drilling of inexpensive "tube" wells solved the serious problem associated with surface water microbial contamination that led to many diarrheal diseases; but it has created a longer term health risk of skin cancer and disfigurement from black foot disease. Added to the severe poverty in Bangladesh, what are the best options for providing safe drinking water for the nation's citizens, numbering around 144 million?

 

Has the multidisciplinary nature of the Superfund Basic Research Program led you into new fields of research and new opportunities?

 

What do you think is your most important, rewarding, or exciting discovery?

 

When you have an opportunity to interact with non-scientists, how do you describe the importance of your work and its implications in their daily lives?

 

What factors do you use to motivate young people into exploring careers in science, medicine, and public health?

 

What motivates you as a scientist and mentor?

 

Who have been the most influential people in your career?

 

If you were starting your career today, what new field of science would you find most interesting?

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