Superfund Research Program
SRP-Funded FACETS Program Prepares Undergraduates for Advanced Education
Thirteen undergraduate students recently participated in the eight-week Fostering Advancement and Careers through Enrichment Training in Science (FACETS) internship program at Harvard University. Funded in part through the Superfund Research Program (SRP) Occupational and Safety Training Education Program on Emerging Technologies at the Harvard School of Public Health, FACETS takes a holistic approach to cultivating the next generation of scientists.
Through the FACETS program, undergraduate students are exposed to a range of public health topics, including introductory coursework in epidemiology and biostatistics, lectures from diverse faculty at Harvard, and mentored research projects with faculty members in environmental health.
The dynamic FACETS summer internship program aims to increase the competitiveness of the participants in graduate school admissions. This year's FACETS cohort included three students from Xavier University of Louisiana, a historically black college in New Orleans.
SRP Small Business Featured at International Biotechnology Convention
A Superfund Research Program (SRP)-funded small business project led by David Battaglia, Ph.D., was selected to exhibit in the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) Innovation Zone, a part of the BIO International Convention held June 19 - 22 in San Diego. The annual convention attracts about 15,000 biotech leaders from 65 countries, covering a wide spectrum of life science innovations.
The BIO Innovation Zone is an exhibit space dedicated to showcasing National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grantees. Battaglia represented Lynntech, Inc., an SRP-funded SBIR grantee.
Lynntech researchers have developed methods to increase the longevity and durability of commercially available membranes used for water purification. They use nanoparticles to modify the surface of these membranes and enhance their performance over time. These improvements minimize membrane fouling, which occurs when bacteria, clays, and other particles are deposited on the membrane surface.
Reducing membrane fouling can reduce the need for water system maintenance and required materials, leading to an overall reduction in system costs. Lynntech's modification process is also universally transferable to all existing membrane water purification technologies in commercial and industrial wastewater systems.
"NIH strongly believes in supporting innovative and breakthrough life science technology development through the SBIR program. The BIO International Convention continues to be an ideal place to highlight our companies," said Matthew Portnoy, Ph.D., the NIH SBIR program coordinator. "The SBIR companies showcased in this year's Innovation Zone show some of the most promising technologies in our portfolio that we hope will achieve commercial success and significantly advance and improve human health."
Conference Helps Scientists Inform Policies Around Mercury Pollution
International experts on mercury met at the 13th International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant (ICMGP) July 16 - 21 in Providence, Rhode Island, to discuss scientific findings and potential measures to decrease human and wildlife exposure to mercury.
With the theme of integrating mercury research and policy in a changing world, the conference focused on ways to control new and existing mercury sources and to monitor the effectiveness of those controls. The Dartmouth College Superfund Research Program (Dartmouth SRP) was an ICMGP 2017 co-sponsor and the center's Research Translation Core (RTC) leader Celia Chen, Ph.D., co-chaired the meeting with Charles Driscoll, Ph.D., from Syracuse University.
"We have made considerable progress in mercury regulations to control the release of this toxic metal, and efforts are underway at the local level to remediate mercury-contaminated sites," said Driscoll. "At the same time, uncertainty remains over the levels of exposure linked to a range of effects of mercury on wildlife and human health."
Chen introduced the plenary speakers, including former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, and co-presented the opening address with Driscoll. During the meeting, the Dartmouth SRP Center also promoted fact sheets, the Dartmouth SRP Mercury: From Source to Seafood video, and information on Dartmouth SRP research translation and community engagement efforts.
ICMGP Science Informs Policy Questions
The ICMGP meeting began with a day-long NIEHS-funded workshop, which brought together a group of 30 scientists and policymakers. The workshop focused on the development of four synthesis papers integrating science to inform policy questions; the papers will be published in a special section of the journal Ambio.
"By providing the opportunity for face-to-face communications between mercury science experts and national and international policymakers, this workshop encourages a dialogue to address the questions policymakers need scientific research to answer," said Chen.