2016 Annual Meeting of the Superfund Research Program
During EHS FEST Dec. 6 - 8, a number of Superfund Research Program (SRP) grantees were invited to give talks during the plenary and concurrent sessions. Several of the concurrent sessions were also organized and chaired by SRP Health Scientist Administrators.
Interactions Between Environmental Toxicants and Food: Mechanisms, Interventions, and Risk Communication
This session explored interactions between food and environmental toxicants, looking at both mechanisms of toxicant transport into the food chain as well as how nutrition can mitigate toxicity of hazardous substances. Dartmouth College SRP researcher Mary Lou Guerinot, Ph.D., described her work combining genetics, high-throughput elemental analysis, and high-resolution imaging to determine how arsenic accumulates in rice. University of Kentucky SRP Center trainee Michael Petriello, Ph.D., discussed how exposure to PCBs can lead to increased production of a biological marker of cardiovascular disease, which is also linked to consumption of red meat, revealing a novel diet-toxicant interaction. Daniel Schlenk, Ph.D., an SRP R01 grantee at the University of California, Riverside, laid out a novel approach for estimating bioavailability, transfer of contaminants to fish, and human health risk of DDT-contaminated sediments off Palos Verdes, California. Marcella Thompson, Ph.D., from the Brown SRP Center, described a project with the Narragansett Tribe to measure contaminants in local fish and report the risks and benefits of eating the fish to the local community.
Chemical Exposure-Induced Host Susceptibility: What Do We Know and Where Is the Science Leading Us?
A panel discussion explored possible common or unique mechanisms that may contribute to infection susceptibility across different exposures. The discussions also shed light on the gaps and future research needs to address this evolving health issue. Several SRP Center researchers presented and were involved in the panel discussion to follow. Dartmouth SRP Center Director Bruce Stanton, Ph.D., discussed his research to examine the effects of low doses of arsenic on the innate immune response of the lungs to Pseudomonas infection. Louisiana State University SRP Center Director Stephania Cormier, Ph.D., described her work demonstrating that exposure to radical-containing particulates alters respiratory viral infection morbidity and mortality. Fenna Sillé, Ph.D., a former UC Berkeley SRP trainee who recently took a position at Johns Hopkins University, explained her findings on the long-term effects of early-life exposure to arsenic on immunity and tuberculosis risk.
From the Bench to the Field: Interventions and Technology-Based Solutions to Reduce Environmental Exposures
This session highlighted four SRP grantees with remediation technologies that they are transitioning into the field to prevent and reduce exposures to environmental hazardous substances. SRP Individual Research Project (R01) grantee Upal Ghosh, Ph.D., from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County described new advances in contaminated sediment remediation by controlling bioavailability. Brown University SRP Center Director Robert Hurt, Ph.D., described his work on nanomaterial sorbents for mercury capture and sequestration and graphene materials as components in vapor barriers. Frank Loeffler, Ph.D., an R01 grantee at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, explained how he is unraveling the specific environmental conditions that sustain in situ microbial reductive dechlorination and detoxification of priority pollutants, such as TCE. University of Arizona SRP Center Director Raina Maier, Ph.D., presented results from the first six years of a field study at the Iron King Mine and Humboldt Smelter Superfund site, demonstrating the feasibility of compost-assisted direct planting.
The Impact of Chemical Mixtures on the Environment and Health: Research Highlights Across Various Disciplines
This session highlighted a variety of NIEHS grantees from the SRP and from the NIEHS mixtures grant portfolio who share an interest in the study of chemical mixtures. James Ranville, Ph.D., an R01 grantee at the Colorado School of Mines, covered the use of Daphnia magna, a small planktonic crustacean, to detect, characterize, and assess the bioavailability of contaminant metal mixtures in the environment. Boston University SRP Center researcher Jennifer Schlezinger, Ph.D., described her use of the Generalized Concentration Addition method to predict joint effects of co-exposures and to characterize the effects of co-exposures on the aryl hydrocarbon receptor, a protein in humans involved in a number of biological responses.
Toxicant Transport Through the Environment: Mechanisms and Interventions to Prevent Exposures
This session addressed the complex field of fate and transport of contaminants in the environment and demonstrated how NIEHS grantees have successfully linked the science to the communities and stakeholders impacted by hazardous substances. Andres Martinez, Ph.D., from the University of Iowa SRP Center and Wendy Heiger-Bernays, Ph.D., from the Boston University SRP Center described a collaborative community-based project to measure airborne PCBs in New Bedford Harbor, Massachusetts, using passive sampling devices. University of Kentucky SRP Center researcher Kelly Pennell, Ph.D., and SBIR grantee Bruce Richman, Ph.D., from Entanglement Technologies, described their collaboration to conduct a field study to advance the understanding of spatial and temporal variability of TCE concentrations in sanitary sewer systems located near hazardous waste sites. R01 grantee Michael Unger, Ph.D., from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and collaborator Joe Rieger from the Elizabeth River Project shared data from the use of a biosensor to assess the impact of groundwater - surface water dynamics on the effectiveness of remediation and bioavailability of PAH contaminants. Brown University SRP Center researchers Jennifer Guelfo, Ph.D., and Thomas Marlow described a workshop they held for regulators regarding perfluoroalkyl acids. At the workshop, they identified key fate and transport knowledge gaps, which now have been incorporated into Brown SRP’s research initiatives.
Beyond Bench to Bedside: Stories of Translation
The NIEHS supports translational research through many programs, including the SRP, to discover how the environment affects people in order to promote healthier lives. In one of the plenary sessions, presenters described their views of translational research and highlighted key aspects of research translation through four stories celebrating NIEHS’s investments over the years. UC Davis SRP Center Director Bruce Hammock, Ph.D., described how universities are doing technology transfer and emphasized the importance of keeping an open-source mentality while developing intellectual property through small business programs. Julia Brody, Ph.D., executive director of Silent Spring Institute and a Northeastern SRP Center collaborator, described research into breast cancer environmental factors and prevention after activists raised questions about why breast cancer risk is higher in some regions.