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Your Environment. Your Health.

September 2018 Superfund Research Program Science Digest

Superfund Research Program Science Digest
Balancing Scientific Excellence with Research Relevance

Science Leadership

Superfund Research Program (SRP) staff and grantees are committed to advancing SRP research by presenting innovative findings, tools, and technologies to stakeholders in academia, government, and local communities.

  • NIEHS SRP staff and grantees focused on environmental health issues in changing economies at the Central and Eastern European Conference on Health and the Environment (CEECHE), June 10 – 14 in Krakow, Poland. The conference, sponsored in part by the SRP, provided a forum for scientists, engineers, and organizations to focus on Central and Eastern European environmental health concerns, which also will inform practices around the world.
    CEECHE scientist group photo

    CEECHE brought nearly 200 scientists from 18 countries together to engage in discussions addressing health and environmental issues.
    (Photo courtesy of the LSU SRP Center)

    • SRP Director William Suk, Ph.D., discussed emerging and recurring environmental health issues and the importance of advancing science as environmental concerns emerge in a plenary talk.
    • SRP Health Scientist Administrator Heather Henry, Ph.D., gave an overview of SRP grantees who are developing innovative tools and methods for coastal and aquifer remediation and monitoring.
    • Slawomir Lomnicki, Ph.D., from the Louisiana State University SRP Center, served as a CEECHE 2018 conference co-chair. He worked closely with conference program committee co-chairs, including Kelly Pennell, Ph.D., assistant director of the University of Kentucky SRP Center.
  • Texas A&M University SRP researchers led by Weihsueh Chiu, Ph.D., developed the Conditional Toxicity Value Predictor, a computational tool that uses the properties of a chemical to predict its toxicity. They determined that the tool can predict a toxicity value with an error of less than a factor of 10, making it useful for quickly assessing relative risks of chemicals for which traditional toxicity data or human health assessments are unavailable. A paper describing the tool was featured in an Environmental Factor article and as an NIEHS Paper of the Month.
  • Ana Navas-Acien, Ph.D.

    Columbia SRP Center Director Ana Navas-Acien, Ph.D., was among the presenters at the NIH workshop. She discussed her work linking metals exposure to kidney disease.
    (Photo courtesy of Brittany Trottier)

    Clinicians, basic scientists, epidemiologists, and public health officials met June 25 – 26 to develop a coordinated research agenda for a growing epidemic of chronic kidney diseases. The workshop, held in Bethesda, Maryland, was jointly sponsored by NIEHS and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Suk and SRP Health Specialist Brittany Trottier were members of the organizing committee and attended the meeting. Participants discussed current gaps in knowledge and a path forward to better understand the causes of – and potential treatments for – chronic kidney diseases in agricultural communities.
  • In a seminar at NIEHS, Michael Karin, Ph.D., detailed the sequence of molecular changes in the liver that eventually lead to liver cancer. Karin, a Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology and Pathology at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine, is part of the UCSD SRP Center.
  • SRP Health Scientist Administrator Danielle Carlin, Ph.D., and Trottier traveled to New Mexico to learn more about the research being conducted at the University of New Mexico Metal Exposure Toxicity Assessment on Tribal Lands in the Southwest (METALS) SRP Center. They visited a site in the Navajo Nation where researchers are examining the health effects from particles in dust from nearby abandoned uranium mines.
  • PowerTech Water co-founder and CEO Cameron Lippert, Ph.D.

    PowerTech Water co-founder and CEO Cameron Lippert, Ph.D., right, accepted the Most Innovative Technology Award in Shanghai China.
    (Photo courtesy of the China BlueTech Awards)

    At the 2018 China BlueTech Awards, the Most Innovative Technology Award went to SRP-funded small business PowerTech Water for its next-generation water purification technology, called INCION. The BlueTech Awards offer a platform for innovative water and wastewater companies to demonstrate readiness for the Chinese market and to network with industry stakeholders.
  • Henry and Trottier attended the annual meeting of the Duke University SRP Center Community Advisory Board at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment. The meeting highlighted efforts by the Duke SRP Center to engage local communities and provided the opportunity for the Center's community advisors to provide input on the strategic direction of future activities.
  • Researchers are one step closer to determining how to prevent blindness with macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, two diseases that affect the eye. This work stems from a collaboration dating back nearly 20 years between SRP-funded researchers Bruce Hammock, Ph.D., from the University of California, Davis, and Bernhard Hennig, Ph.D., from the University of Kentucky.
  • Grantees from all over the country gathered in Ottawa, Canada for the joint annual meeting of the International Society of Exposure Science and the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology. SRP Health Scientist Administrator Michelle Heacock, Ph.D., and Trottier were involved in a session on environmental health issues related to electronic waste.