Superfund Research Program
Alumni Duke SRP Trainees Present at ITEHP Career Symposium
On September 30, Duke University alumni, including former Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center trainees, presented at the Duke University Integrated Toxicology and Environmental Health Program (ITEHP) Career Symposium. The event included several informal networking sessions and featured 11 alumni presentations.
Two of the presenting ITEHP alumni, Alicia Timme-Laragy, Ph.D., and Elena Craft, Ph.D., are former Duke SRP trainees and recipients of the NIEHS-supported Karen Wetterhahn Memorial Award, which recognizes one outstanding SRP trainee each year. Both discussed their career paths and presented thoughtful, career-focused talks. Craft is currently a senior health scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund in Austin, Texas, and Timme-Laragy is an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
The symposium, which drew 75 attendees, kicked off with four Career Affinity Group meetings, giving current students the opportunity to meet with alumni working in industry, academia, non-profits, and government.
UA SRP Researcher Visits ATSDR
Eric Betterton, Ph.D., a project leader at the University of Arizona Superfund Research Program (UA SRP) Center, traveled to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) in Atlanta to provide information about his research and to foster collaborations between UA SRP and ATSDR. During a seminar on September 22, Betterton discussed his work developing tools to predict contaminant transport by dust and aerosols from mining operations.
The talk, organized by Olivia Harris in the ATSDR Office of Science, encouraged ATSDR staff to explore how Betterton's research related to their work and provided ample opportunity for questions and discussion. ATSDR staff members also were given the opportunity to meet one-on-one with Betterton to brainstorm mutual interests and to consult with him for technical advice.
Betterton, who studies emissions from both the Iron King Mine / Dewey Humboldt Superfund site and the ASARCO Hayden Smelter site, focused his discussion on his UA SRP Center project to develop models to predict airborne particulate matter, arsenic, and lead concentrations downwind of the contaminated mining sites. Contaminants in airborne dust and aerosols can be transported rapidly and over relatively long distances compared to contaminants transported via water. Mining operations are potential sources of airborne metal and metalloid contaminants through direct smelter emissions as well as wind erosion of mine tailings and other deposits. Betterton's research is providing quantitative information about dust and aerosol emissions from contaminated mining sites at a local scale, incorporating local conditions associated with dust and aerosol transport and local weather forecasting.
Boston University SRP Grantees Present at LINCS Consortium Meeting
In September, Boston University (BU) Superfund Research Program (SRP) grantees attended and presented at the Library of Network-Based Cellular Signatures (LINCS) Consortium meeting in Bethesda, Maryland. The BU SRP receives funding through a LINCS supplement and aims to bring more knowledge from NIEHS and grantees into LINCS to continue to build on the consortium's work.
LINCS aims to create a network-based understanding of biology by creating a publically available catalogue of changes in gene expression and other cellular processes that occur when cells are exposed to a variety of perturbing agents.
BU SRP Center Director David Sherr, Ph.D., and Core Co-Leader Stephano Monti, Ph.D., participated in the meeting. SRP graduate student Amy Li also presented a poster describing their collaborative work with the Connectivity Map (CMAP) team at the Broad Institute.
BU SRP also received supplemental SRP funding for its work to develop a cost-effective genomic analysis platform to predict the carcinogenicity and toxicity of environmental chemicals. The supplement supports a collaboration between BU SRP's Monti and Sherr, NIEHS molecular toxicologist Scott Auerbach, Ph.D., and the CMAP team led by Aravind Subramanian, Ph.D.
The BU SRP poster, "Generation and analysis of transcriptomic gene signatures and carcinogen-associated pathways in liver carcinogenesis," drew substantial interest from meeting attendees. The work undertaken by BU SRP and CMAP provides insight into the molecular mechanisms of action of Superfund chemicals. The computational models developed through this collaboration also will be incorporated into the LINCS Data Portal, making the results immediately accessible to SRP members, NIEHS scientists, and the research community.