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Your Environment. Your Health.

March 2018 Superfund Research Program Science Digest

Superfund Research Program Science Digest
Balancing Scientific Excellence with Research Relevance

Hot Off the Press

The Superfund Research Program (SRP) regularly highlights basic and applied research and activities from the program, spanning multiple disciplines.

Research Briefs

Developing Training and Education for Emerging Technologies

The SRP Occupational and Safety Training Education Programs on Emerging Technologies (R25) grants are awarded to institutes of higher education to support activities that complement or enhance workforce training that meets the nation’s biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research needs. This includes the development of educational activities, curricula, tools, and methods for industrial hygienists and graduate students involved in the research, evaluation, management, and handling of hazardous substances.

T cells and cancer cells

UCSD researchers showed how T cells attach and spread over cancer cells, then use special chemicals housed in vesicles, red, to attack the cancer cells.
(Photo courtesy of the National Institutes of Health)

Chronic Inflammation Suppresses Immune Cells that Fight Liver Cancer

Chronic liver inflammation can promote cancer by suppressing one of the body’s natural mechanisms to fight cancer development, according to SRP researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). The study explains the success of some types of cancer immunotherapy and suggests novel targets for new therapies.

Using Saliva to Understand Exposures and Monitor Health

Collecting saliva may be a practical alternative to blood for characterizing a person's exposures, according to new research from the SRP Center at the University of California (UC), Berkeley. The researchers found that saliva contains a rich set of molecular information that can


Small molecules can transfer from blood to saliva, making the latter a useful alternative to collecting blood samples.
(Photo courtesy of the UC Berkeley SRP Center)

be used to construct individual exposure histories and discover risk factors for chronic diseases.

Novel Cobamide Structure May Hold Clues for More Effective Biological Degradation of Chlorinated Compounds

Researchers at the University of Tennessee have discovered a crucial compound that helps specific bacteria degrade pollutants like tetrachloroethene (PCE). This compound, called purinyl-cobamide, assists enzymes during degradation reactions.

Environmental Factor Articles

Thirty Years of Superfund Research for Innovation and Health

SRP Annual Meeting

Attendees listened attentively and asked questions during the scientific sessions at the SRP Annual Meeting.
(Photo courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania SRP Center)

The SRP marked its 30th anniversary at the annual meeting Dec. 6 - 8 in Philadelphia. SRP researchers, administrators, trainees, and other partners shared findings and discussed experiences with community engagement and research translation. The meeting was hosted by the University of Pennsylvania SRP Center.

NIEHS-Funded Papers Inform Efforts to Reduce Mercury Pollution

A suite of new articles describes the latest science on the fate and effects of mercury. The articles inform activities under the Minamata Convention, a global treaty on mercury that was ratified in August 2017. The papers were published in a special section of the journal Ambio, in the March 2018 issue. Organizers of the 13th International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant (ICMGP) commissioned the papers. The conference, held during July 2017 in Providence, Rhode Island, attracted more than 1,000 participants from 50 countries.

Angela Gutierrez Honored with 2017 Wetterhahn Award

The SRP selected Angela Gutierrez, from the University of Kentucky SRP Center, as the 20th recipient of the Wetterhahn Memorial Award. She was recognized for her innovative research to develop magnetic nanoparticles coated with polyphenols from plants. The nanoparticles are designed to capture and remove polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from water.

Berkeley - Thirty Years of Innovative Research in Environmental Health

Berkeley SRP 30 year celebration

SRP Health Scientist Administrator Michelle Heacock, Ph.D., right front, joined UC Berkeley SRP Center researchers and trainees at their 30 year celebration.
(Photo courtesy of the UC Berkeley SRP Center)

For three decades, the SRP Center at the University of California, Berkeley has been at the forefront of important scientific discoveries, launching new programs and research initiatives. At a Jan. 30 event, researchers and program partners looked back at the center’s history and how it has evolved to meet new research needs. Since its founding in 1987 under the leadership of Martyn Smith, Ph.D., the center has grown and adapted to meet ever-changing environmental and health concerns. Today, the center aims to understand how the environment contributes to disease, and to create prevention and cleanup strategies that protect human health and the environment.

Arsenic Declines in Public Drinking Water

SRP researchers reported that exposure to arsenic in drinking water was significantly reduced among Americans using public water systems after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lowered maximum levels of arsenic in 2006. The new findings, reported Oct. 22 in the journal Lancet Public Health, confirmed that federal drinking water regulations helped decrease toxic exposure and protect human health. Columbia SRP Center graduate student Anne Nigra was the lead author on the study.

Risk e-Learning Webinars

The spring 2018 Risk e-Learning webinar series will focus on new approaches and alternatives for toxicity, fate and transport, and ecotoxicity testing. Details will be posted to the SRP Risk e-Learning website as they become available.

Last fall, the SRP hosted a seminar series focused on adverse outcome pathways (AOPs), which are structured ways to represent biological events leading to adverse health effects. The AOP framework was developed to organize biological and toxicological information linking molecular-level changes by stressors to potential health endpoints. In total, this series attracted 764 live participants, 910 online archive views, 1,308 audio podcast downloads, and 11,418 video podcast downloads.

The first session, Introduction to the Adverse Outcome Pathway Framework, was held on Wednesday, Oct. 17. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) staff provided an introduction and overview of AOPs and discussed the AOP Knowledge Base, which is designed to house descriptions of the biological mechanisms underlying chemical toxicity in a structured manner.

The second session, Assembling and Assessing AOP Information, was held on Wednesday, Nov. 29. Speakers discussed the development of AOPs and how they may be used to support hazard and risk assessment.

More information and links to view the archives are available on the SRP Risk e-Learning webpage. Risk e-Learning webinars are conducted by the SRP in collaboration with the EPA.