An important part of the Superfund Research Program (SRP) is research translation, which includes putting research findings into the hands of the stakeholders who need them. Application of SRP research has led to significant economic and societal benefits over the years.
In our feature story, we highlight this by describing a case study approach to identify and document some of the benefits of SRP-funded research, focusing on the use of potentially hazardous substance remediation and site monitoring tools. Through this project, described in a recent commentary, we found examples of SRP-funded research that yielded cost savings of tens of millions of dollars and reduced exposures in a sustainable way.
In an associated editorial, NIEHS and National Toxicology Program Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., described the importance of evaluation efforts to document measurable economic and societal benefits resulting from research. According to Birnbaum, our case study analysis supports a goal of the NIEHS strategic plan to measure economic benefits and the comparative effectiveness of NIEHS investments.
NIEHS recently introduced a new framework for conducting, communicating, and evaluating translational research efforts in environmental health science. This new framework reflects a wide range of environmental health research activities and helps capture the broader impacts of research. Translational research is a critical component of the SRP, and we believe that we can better recognize the value of SRP research by refining the research evaluation process.
The commentary concentrates on one aspect of the broad SRP mandate, which brings together researchers from the biomedical, environmental science, and engineering fields. Moving forward, we are looking at how we can document the impacts of basic biomedical research. By articulating these benefits, we provide insight into how SRP-funded basic research establishes a foundation of knowledge that can be built upon and translated to real-world applications.
William A. Suk, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Superfund Research Program