Superfund Research Program
SRP Small Businesses Featured at International Biotech Convention
At the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) International Convention June 6 - 9 in San Francisco, two Superfund Research Program (SRP) small businesses, OndaVia, Inc. and Picoyune, were among the National Institutes of Health (NIH) grantees selected to exhibit in the BIO Innovation Zone. OndaVia was also one of the first NIEHS small business grantees chosen to give a presentation during the meeting. Each year, the convention attracts about 15,000 biotech leaders from 65 countries, covering a wide spectrum of life science innovations.
The BIO Innovation Zone was an exhibit space dedicated to showcasing NIH and National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grantees, with a primary focus on biomedical technologies. SRP SBIR grantees OndaVia and Picoyune both had booths in the exhibit space.
OndaVia provides analytical instrumentation for rapid, on-site, laboratory-grade testing of aqueous samples. Its Raman-spectroscopy-based approach can measure nearly any contaminant down to part-per-billion levels. Its current catalog of tests includes kits for arsenic, amines, triazine, lead, and selenium. Its SRP-funded research focuses on developing methods for fast, quantitative analysis of the industrial solvent trichloroethylene in water.
Picoyune is developing a powerful and portable mercury analyzer by combining a nanoparticle-based detector with a thermal sample introduction system. They hope to replace current complex equipment with a nanoparticle-based plasmonic mercury sensing system that is inexpensive, ultra-sensitive, and ideal for portable applications.
"NIH strongly believes in supporting innovative life science technology development through the SBIR program. The SBIR companies showcased in this year's Innovation Zone highlight some of the most promising technologies in our portfolio that we hope will achieve commercial success and significantly advance and improve human health," said Matthew Portnoy, Ph.D., the NIH SBIR program coordinator. The SBIR program provides U.S. federal funding to small businesses engaged in research and development with the potential for commercialization
Suk Joins Team of Environmental Health Leaders to Address Pollution
SRP Director Bill Suk, Ph.D., is providing scientific leadership as a member of the Global Commission on Pollution, Health, and Development. The aim of the Commission is to reduce air, soil, and water pollution by communicating the extraordinary health and economic costs of pollution globally, providing actionable solutions to policy-makers, and dispelling the myth of pollution’s inevitability. It is comprised of many of the world’s most influential leaders, researchers, and practitioners in the fields of pollution management, environmental health, and sustainable development.
The Global Commission is addressing the full health and economic costs of air, water, and soil pollution. Through analyses of existing and emerging data, the Commission’s goal is to reveal pollution’s severe and underreported contribution to the global burden of disease and uncover the economic costs of pollution to low- and middle-income countries. They will also inform key decision makers around the world about the burden that pollution places on health and economic development, and about available pollution control solutions and strategies.
In October 2015, the Commission was announced in an editorial in The Lancet. The Commission members, including Suk, are currently working together to develop a report analyzing and communicating the massive scope of the health and economic costs of air, water, and soil pollution.
The Commission is an initiative of The Lancet, the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution, and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, with coordination from the United Nations Environmental Program and the World Bank. For more information about the Commission as well as a list of commissioners and other resources, visit the Global Commission website.
UA SRP Talks Mining Reclamation on Capitol Hill
Raina Maier, Ph.D., University of Arizona Superfund Research Program (UA SRP) director, was invited to speak at the Science, Technology, Education, and Math (STEM) session of the 2016 Capitol Hill Policy Briefing Series. This series consisted of meetings organized and moderated by graduate fellows in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.
The session focused on creating an emerging and diverse workforce to reclaim abandoned mine lands and increasing Hispanic participation in the environmental sciences and geosciences. Maier talked specifically about the ties between legacy mining and the Southwestern U.S., providing the 2015 Gold King Mine spill of Colorado as an example of the pressing need to manage legacy mining sites. Maier also noted that the three million gallons of acid mine drainage released from the Gold King Mine is dwarfed by other legacy sites known to be contributing five million gallons per day of acid mine drainage into the waterways of the Western U.S.
Maier also urged that funding be made available to train a diverse workforce to build the capacity to address all relevant aspects of the U.S. mining legacy. She also emphasized the need for long-term research at legacy sites to determine the lasting effectiveness of mine land reclamation approaches.
Researchers from the UA SRP Center also recently provided expert testimony at a congressional hearing on the Gold King Mine Spill. For more information on the event on Capitol Hill, see the UA SRP Center website.