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Dartmouth researcher receives Superfund award

By Marisa Naujokas
December 2010

Courtney Kozul-Horvath, Ph.D., seated in a laboratory with an open book in front of her
Kozul-Horvath, above, is shown in her lab at Dartmouth. Her Wetterhahn Award provides support for her to attend one major scientific conference, in addition to travel funds for attending the SRP Annual Meeting where she presented her research. (Photo courtesy of Courtney Kozul-Horvath)

Courtney Kozul-Horvath, Ph.D. (, is the thirteenth recipient of the annual Karen Wetterhahn Memorial Award ( The award was presented on Nov. 12, at the 2010 NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) Annual Meeting hosted by Oregon State University in Portland. The SRP recognized Kozul-Horvath for her contributions to research on effects of low dose arsenic exposure on the immune system.

Kozul-Horvath is a postdoctoral fellow in lab of Richard Enelow, M.D., at Dartmouth Medical School. She earned her B.A. from Regis College and was valedictorian in 2006. She earned her Ph.D. in 2009 under the direction of SRP grantee Joshua Hamilton, Ph.D., in the Program in Experimental and Molecular Medicine at Dartmouth.

Kozul-Horvath has studied effects of low dose arsenic exposure in drinking water on the immune system in adult and developing mice. Arsenic is a major health concern in the U.S. and worldwide. Arsenic is present in a large portion of Superfund sites and occurs naturally in rock formations.

Her Ph.D. thesis research was the first to demonstrate that arsenic exposure can increase susceptibility of mice to sublethal doses of influenza virus. Arsenic-exposed mice showed increased susceptibility and severity of respiratory influenza infection as a result of a compromised innate immune system.

The results of her research attracted attention from the scientific community and the mainstream media, including public radio. She used the opportunity to reach out to the public and raise awareness about arsenic exposure. She is continuing this research as a postdoctoral fellow, focusing on immunological effects in offspring after maternal exposure during pregnancy in mice.

Kozul-Horvath credits SRP for offering a rigorous research environment where she continues to explore issues fundamental to the understanding of how toxicants disrupt human health. She is often reminded of other research disciplines that also contribute to this understanding. She values the interdisciplinary approach supported by SRP during her training, and plans to continue to integrate this approach into her future research.

Karen Wetterhahn, Ph.D., was a chemistry professor at Dartmouth College and the founder of the Dartmouth Toxic Metals Superfund Research Program. Shortly after her tragic death in 1997, NIEHS began presenting an award in her memory to recognize an outstanding graduate student or postdoctoral researcher who best exemplifies the qualities of scientific excellence exhibited by Wetterhahn herself.

(Marisa Naujokas is a contract employee with the NIEHS Superfund Research Program and Worker Education and Training Program)

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