Superfund Research Program
Microvi Biotechnologies Showcases Innovative Research
In November, Superfund Research Program (SRP) Health Scientist Administrator Heather Henry, Ph.D., visited Microvi Biotechnologies to meet the SRP-funded scientists and see their research first-hand. Microvi received an SRP Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant this year aimed at continuing the development of a cutting-edge biotechnology platform to remove contaminants from water.
“It has been exciting to see Microvi’s technology evolve from the feasibility stage, using previous SRP funding, to the product design and manufacturing stage,” said Henry. “Visiting the laboratory gave me an opportunity to see their prototype technology and to understand how it will be applied at upcoming pilot tests on hazardous waste sites.”
Fatameh Shirazi, Ph.D., is the CEO of Microvi, a biotechnology company that discovers, develops, manufactures, and commercializes innovative solutions in the water, energy, and chemical industries. . The project she leads focuses on recalcitrant contaminants, which means they are resistant to degradation.
“Our multidisciplinary approach to developing this new platform technology will offer a reliable, cost-effective solution to the chronic problem of recalcitrant water pollutants,” said Shirazi.
Microvi developed a MicroNiche Engineering™ platform which tailors the microbial environment to optimize for maximum biodegradation of recalcitrant contaminants, such as trichloroethylene. Shirazi and her team are drawing on material science, applied microbiology, and environmental engineering to treat difficult water quality situations safely and effectively, thereby protecting public health and promoting environmental sustainability.
“Through Phase I and II support, SRP’s SBIR program has helped Microvi take an innovative idea from the bench to the field – a real success story,” added Henry.
2014 Annual Meeting Celebrates Research Trainees
The annual meeting of the NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) Nov. 12-14 in San Jose, California was an occasion to highlight trainee accomplishments. The meeting, which attracted researchers and trainees from across the nation, was hosted by SRP grantees at the University of California (UC) Berkeley.
Along with the traditional presentations and plenary sessions, the meeting set aside time for celebrating award-winning students.
The 2014 winner of the coveted Karen Wetterhahn Memorial Award, Brad Newsome, Ph.D., from the University of Kentucky, discussed his work on how nutrition can modulate the effects of exposure to environmental chemicals as well as his research to develop systems that use nanomaterials for removal of contaminants in water supplies. Newsome also reflected on his global health humanitarian work in Swaziland, Africa.
The meeting concluded with talks from six KC Donnelly Externship Award winners, who described their experiences and results from an SRP-funded externship at another SRP Center, or federal or state agency.
Four graduate students also received awards for their poster presented in the trainee poster sessions Wednesday and Thursday evening, which featured more than 90 posters from SRP trainees. There were two winners in both the health sciences and the environmental science and engineering categories.
Health sciences poster winners
Alden Adrion, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
“Screening Nonionic Surfactants for Enhanced Biodegradation of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Contaminated Soil”
Angela Gutierrez, University of Kentucky<<br> “Development of polyphenolic nanocomposite materials for rapid removal of organic pollutants from contaminated water sources”
Environmental science and engineering poster winners
Peter William Dornbos, Michigan State University
“The Effects of Genetic Variability on the Shape of a Dose-Response Curve: 2,3,7,8 TCDD induced Suppression of CD40L-activated Human Primary B Cells”
Sarah Ann Carratt, University of California at Davis
“Cytotoxicity following naphthalene exposure in microsomal epoxide hydrolase deficient mice”
SRP Researchers Determine that Triclosan Promotes Liver Tumor Growth in Mice
University of California (UC) Davis and UC San Diego showed that long-term exposure to triclosan promotes the growth of liver tumors in laboratory mice, raising concerns about its safety for humans. Triclosan is a common antibacterial chemical used in a wide variety of consumer products such as cosmetics, soaps, detergents, and toothpaste.
“Triclosan’s increasing detection in environmental samples and its increasingly broad use in consumer products may overcome its moderate benefit and present a very real risk of liver toxicity for people,” said study leader Robert Tukey, Ph.D., of UC San Diego.
In the study, scientists found that triclosan interferes with the constitutive androstane receptor, which plays a role in detoxifying the blood. According to the authors, this interference leads to overproduction of cells by the liver, causing fibrosis and cancer. The study concluded that because of this new evidence, the potential of triclosan to cause liver cancer in humans should be evaluated.
The article, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is available online. For more information on the article, see the news releases from UC Davis and the UC San Diego.