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Environmental Factor, September 2012

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ONES awardee honored by alma mater

By Eddy Ball

Lauren Aleksunes, Pharm.D., Ph.D.

Aleksunes will pursue her research with an NIEHS grant supporting studies on the disposition of environmental chemicals during pregnancy. (Photo courtesy of Rutgers University)

Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) awardee Lauren Aleksunes, Pharm.D., Ph.D., is being honored by the University of Connecticut (UConn).

The UConn Alumni Association selected Aleksunes as the 2012 recipient of the Graduate of the Last Decade (G.O.L.D.) Award for her achievements since becoming in 2007 the UConn School of Pharmacy’s first graduate of its dual Pharm.D./Ph.D. program. The award honors those alumni who have been out of school for ten years or less and who have made significant contributions to their professions, their communities, or in philanthropy.

Aleksunes is an assistant professor in the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She joined the Rutgers faculty in 2009, following an NIEHS-supported postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Kansas Medical Center. During this training, she was awarded a Pathway to Independence Award from NIH.  She also enjoyed support during her doctoral program with a Howard Hughes Medical Institute predoctoral fellowship (see story).

Since her graduation, Aleksunes has been awarded several federal and local research grants, including ones from NIEHS and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. In 2011, she received her ONES award from NIEHS. This award provides five years of support for her research into how chemicals from the environment are transferred between mothers and babies during pregnancy.

“Her work will allow researchers to predict which patients are at a greater risk for adverse effects of chemical exposure during pregnancy,” said Robert McCarthy, Ph.D., dean of the UConn School of Pharmacy, in a university press release.

Aleksunes will be honored at the Alumni Association Awards Celebration Oct. 12 on the UConn Storrs Campus, and the following day at the UConn Homecoming Game at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn.

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