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Environmental Factor, September 2013

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Veteran grantee named to Washington State Academy of Sciences

By Eddy Ball

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. In 2012, there were nearly 450. (Photo courtesy of WSU)

NIEHS grantee Michael Smerdon, Ph.D. is one of 24 scientists elected this year as members of the Washington State Academy of Sciences. He joins two other colleagues from Washington State University (WSU), according to an Aug. 12 WSU press release.

Smerdon, a regents professor of biochemistry and biophysics, has had NIEHS support since 1978, when he received a Young Environmental Scientist Grant Award, following completion of his postdoctoral fellowship in pathology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The author of more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, Smerdon 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.”

We are pleased 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.”

Election to the Washington State Academy of Sciences is the most recent of many honors Smerdon has received for his teaching, research, and service. In 2012, he was honored by WSU with its Eminent Faculty Award. He was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2010; received the Science and Engineering Alumni Leadership Award in 2003 from St. Cloud State University, his alma mater; and has been recognized several times for faculty excellence. In 2001, he was selected for prestigious NIH Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) Award, which provides up to 10 years of research funding to select leaders in their field.

The Washington State Academy of Sciences is the scientific organization established to offer advice on science policy in the state. At the invitation of the Washington State Legislature, it is preparing an independent white paper addressing the science underlying the use of products from genetically modified plants and animals in food, as well as the impacts of required labeling of foods containing ingredients from genetically modified organisms. The academy is also participating in the Puget Sound Partnership's efforts to protect and restore Puget Sound.

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