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Environmental Factor, April 2012

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Grantee recognized by WSU

By Eddy Ball

NiEHS grantee Michael Smerdon, Ph.D.

Smerdon is a pioneer in the area of DNA repair and chromatin packaging. When he was a postdoc and junior investigator, his papers were among fewer than 20 published each year on the subject (see graph ). By 2010, there were nearly 400 papers published on DNA and chromatin each year. (Photo courtesy of WSU)

Veteran NIEHS grantee Michael Smerdon, Ph.D. , received the Eminent Faculty Award during the annual Showcase celebration March 30 at Washington State University (WSU). Smerdon, a regents professor of biochemistry and biophysics, is the 12th recipient of the highest honor his university bestows on faculty members, according to a Feb. 27 WSU press release .

For more than 30 years, Smerdon has been an NIH grantee, and he currently holds two NIEHS grants overseen by NIEHS Health Scientist Administrator Les Reinlib, Ph.D., “Repair of carcinogen damaged DNA in human chromatin” and “DNA repair in a hormone responsive gene.” NIEHS first supported Smerdon as a junior investigator with a Young Environmental Scientist Grant Award from 1978 to 1981, following completion of his postdoctoral fellowship in pathology at Washington University School of Medicine.

“We are proud to have sponsored Dr. Smerdon for many years,” Reinlib said. “He is a shining example of an investigator producing insights that will lead to a comprehensive understanding of ways that environmental chemicals or harmful radiation attack DNA and our ability to defend ourselves against these agents.”

Smerdon’s Eminent Faculty Award is the latest in a long list of honors for teaching, research, and service. Smerdon was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2010, he received the Science and Engineering Alumni Leadership Award in 2003 from St. Cloud State University, his alma mater, and he has been recognized several times for faculty excellence. In 2001, he was selected for the prestigious NIH Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) Award, a special award of up to 10 years of research funding to select leaders in their field.

In a comment posted with the WSU press release, former Smerdon trainee Feng Gong, Ph.D. , now an assistant professor at the University of Miami, wrote, “I am excited to hear that Mick will receive the 2012 Eminent Faculty Award. In addition to his numerous scientific contributions to the field of DNA repair, Mick is also a great mentor. He will continue to be a great source of inspiration for all his students in the years to come.”

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