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Your Environment. Your Health.

PEPH E-News February 2017

Volume 8, Issue 2: February 2017

PEPH E-News Header

Empowering a PBB-Exposed Community through Community Engagement and Collaborative Research

Since taking over the Michigan Polybrominated Biphenyl (PBB) Registry in 2011, Michele Marcus, Ph.D., and her team at Emory University have been actively involved with the affected community. In fact, community engagement efforts evolved into a community-based participatory research partnership wherein residents helped identify important research questions, informed the research approach, and maintained an active role in the decision-making process moving forward.

In the early 1970s, millions of Michigan residents were exposed to a flame retardant mixture containing PBB through consumption of contaminated meat and other agricultural products. The Michigan PBB Registry has been following exposed residents and their children since 1976 to measure body burdens of PBB and to evaluate adverse health outcomes, such as earlier age at first menstruation, increased miscarriages and lower estrogen levels among females, and more urogenital problems among males.

"I had worked with the PBB health data for over 15 years but never had the chance to talk with the people affected. When the Michigan health department asked that I take over the Registry, I was excited for the opportunity to talk to Registry members, share the research findings with them, hear their stories, and hear their health concerns. I have learned so much from them," said Marcus.

The team at Emory has built relationships and forged partnerships among diverse stakeholders, including the PBB Citizens Advisory Board, the Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force, the Mid-Michigan District Health Department, Alma College, and approximately 1,000 residents who have reached out and shared their experiences. Together they have worked to fulfill their goals of educating and sharing research findings with the community, seeking out and incorporating community input into research, and facilitating community participation in research.

"The PBB community has enhanced the research in so many ways, from logistical issues such as convincing the state to keep the PBB health records available for research to issues that influenced the scientific direction, such as health concerns in children born to fathers with high PBB exposure," Marcus noted. Based on community input, Marcus' team identified new research priorities and, with funding from NIEHS, began to explore those questions of interest to affected residents. For example, community members expressed concerns about health issues such as neurodegenerative diseases, arthritis, cancer, and autoimmune problems that were not originally included in the research scope. In response, the research team added new questions to health surveys to compile data on these additional symptoms and health problems.

Residents wondered about the possibility of passing down negative health effects to their children and grandchildren, as well as the continued high levels of PBB in their bodies over the years. These questions helped to inform a recently funded epigenetics study looking at the heritability of genetic modifications across three generations, as well as a new clinical trial aimed at identifying a treatment to accelerate the removal of PBB from subjects' bodies.

"Our partnership with the community has improved both the science we conduct and its relevance to those affected. Our partners will ensure that the health findings are not only shared with those affected, but also part of a statewide effort to educate Michigan's health care providers," said Marcus.

Catharine Karr, M.D., Ph.D., Receives Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists

Catharine Karr, M.D., Ph.D., has received the 2017 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach. Karr is a pediatric environmental medicine specialist and environmental epidemiologist at the University of Washington, a member of the NIEHS-funded Center for Exposures, Disease, Genomics and Environment (EDGE) at UW, and director of the Northwest Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU). Some of her recent projects include (1) working with Native American and Latino communities in the Yakima Valley to develop low-cost air pollution sensors aimed at reducing wood smoke exposure and (2) conducting an intervention trial among Yakima youth with asthma to evaluate the effectiveness of home air cleaners. Read more about Karr's work on the EDGE blog and her PEPH Grantee Highlight.

NIEHS Launches Climate Change and Human Health Literature Portal

In December, NIEHS launched the Climate Change and Human Health Literature Portal, a knowledge management tool for locating the most relevant scientific literature on the health implications of climate change. The portal provides access to a database of studies from around the world, published between 2007 and 2014, and is intended to make this literature more accessible to a global audience. It offers a basic search function as well as a wide array of descriptive filters, such as geographic area, communication audience, and others, which can be used to modify your search. There are also some prepopulated questions, such as children's vulnerability to the health impacts of climate change and communicating the health impacts of climate change to the public, which can be researched using the portal.

New Report Highlights Community-Based Solutions to Promote Health Equity

A new report, Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity, identifies the major elements needed to advance health equity, the state in which everyone has the opportunity to attain his/her full health potential and no one is disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of social position or any other socially defined circumstance. With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened an ad hoc, expert committee to consider solutions that could be identified, developed, and implemented at the local or community level to advance health equity. The resulting report highlights promising community-based solutions in the context of key levers, such as policies; key relationships, such as partnerships with other sectors; and other elements needed to be successful.

Upcoming PEPH Webinars: Windows of Susceptibility and Immigrant Health

PEPH is pleased to be hosting two webinars over the next several weeks. The first will cover recent research on windows of susceptibility, with a focus on (1) the impact of exposure on the methylome and (2) normal breast tissue biomarkers of environmental exposure. The second webinar will address occupational health concerns of immigrant populations. We hope you can join us!

PEPH Webinar: Windows of Susceptibility
March 8, 2017 • 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.EST

PEPH Webinar: Immigrant Health
March 22, 2017 • 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. EDT

PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast Series

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Our latest podcast, Children, Nature, and the Importance of Getting Kids Outside, explores how spending time in nature can increase physical activity, reduce the risk of chronic disease, and improve children's sense of emotional wellbeing. Plus, learn how health professionals and unique initiatives are working to prescribe nature to improve the health of children and their communities.

You can find more podcasts on the Environmental Health Chat Web page or subscribe to the series on iTunes. We want your feedback! Send comments and ideas for future podcasts to

PEPH Grantee Highlights: Tipawan Reed and Tommy Rock

Tipawan "Tippi" Reed, former president and founder of OAI, Inc., has provided education and workforce development to immigrants, refugees, and other disadvantaged populations for nearly 40 years. She is the principal investigator of the NIEHS-funded OAI Hazardous Waste Worker Training Program Consortium (HWWTP) and the Environmental Career Worker Training Program Consortium (ECWTP). Both programs support underserved populations and address public health disparities while also protecting workers and communities from exposure to hazardous substances. Read the Grantee Highlight to learn more.

Tommy Rock, a doctoral student at Northern Arizona University, recently helped discover uranium contamination in the drinking water of a small, mostly Navajo, community in Arizona. Findings from Rock's research led to replacement of the contaminated well that supplied public water and also contributed to a policy change requiring the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to notify the public of drinking water contamination when public utilities neglect to do so. Read the Grantee Highlight to learn more.

Films Featured at EHS FEST Now Available

The films featured at the Environmental Health Science FEST (EHS FEST) held in December in Durham, North Carolina are now available on the EHS FEST Film Festival page. Developed by NIEHS grantees, partners, and staff, these films raised awareness on a variety of environmental health topics and served as a unique opportunity to share environmental health messages with meeting participants and the community. If you were unable to attend EHS FEST or missed the Film Festival, we encourage you to watch them online.

PEPH in the January NIEHS Environmental Factor

First Environmental Health Science FEST draws 1,200 people to Durham. More than 1,200 people from across the nation joined in the first-ever Environmental Health Science FEST in Durham, North Carolina.

EHS FEST: community engagement for effective research. Community-based environmental health research was addressed at EHS FEST and the Research Triangle Environmental Health Collaborative Summit.

EHS FEST takes it to the streets with public science events. EHS FEST took science into the community with a film festival and an evening of 3-minute science talks.

EHS FEST features cutting-edge exposure sensors and technologies. NIEHS grantees shared cutting-edge exposure sensors at the EHS FEST Sensors and Technologies Fair, conference sessions, and a workshop.

EHS FEST: air pollution research informs regulations, improves health. EHS FEST sessions focused on new discoveries of health effects of air pollution exposures, including asthma, autism, and others.

EHS FEST: susceptibility to pollutants varies across the lifespan. Health impacts of environmental pollutants may depend on the timing of exposure, according to scientists who spoke at EHS FEST.

Job Opportunity: Director of Research Translation, UCSF Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment (PRHE)

The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment (PRHE) is seeking a Director of Research Translation to lead a nationally and internationally recognized academic program on research translation focused on reproductive environmental health. The position is within the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences. See the job posting for specific duties, required qualifications, and to apply. For full consideration, apply by March 9.

Emerging Leaders in Public Health (ELPH) Now Accepting Applications

The Kresge Foundation is partnering with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Gillings School of Global Public Health to recruit and select 20 teams for Emerging Leaders in Public Health (ELPH), a leadership development initiative aimed at helping current and future local public health leaders advance innovative models that improve their organizations and position them for new opportunities to meet the changing health needs of their communities. Public health leaders who represent diverse backgrounds and serve populations experiencing health disparities are encouraged to apply. Deadline: February 20, 2017.

Upcoming PEPH-Related Events

February 15 - 17, 2017: Unleashing the Power of Communities: Achieving Health, Well-Being, and Equity in San Antonio, Texas. Organized by Communities Joined in Action (CJA), this conference will help community leaders better understand how to work toward creating equity in health and health care delivery.

March 2 - 3, 2017: Migrant Labor and Global Health (MLGH) Conference on the University of California, Davis campus. The MLGH Conference serves as a platform to explore the multidisciplinary aspects of migration and their impact on health. Registration closes February 1.

March 8 - 10, 2017: National Environmental Justice Conference and Training Program in Washington, D.C. Leaders from various sectors will engage in 3 days of a free exchange of ideas and approaches to achieving environmental justice. The program will highlight the needs and challenges of communities, governments, municipalities, tribes, faith-based organizations, and others with an interest in environmental justice.

March 9 - 11, 2017: Association for Community Health Improvement (ACHI) National Conference in Denver, Colorado.

April 5 - 7, 2017 Children's Environmental Health Translational Research Conference in Arlington, Virginia. Hosted by the Children's Environmental Health Network (CEHN), this event will highlight cutting-edge research on some of the biggest emerging threats to children's environmental health.

May 17 - 20, 2017: Citizen Science Association (CSA) Conference in St. Paul, Minnesota. Please join CSA for CitSci2017 and be part of conversations to create a field of citizen science.

June 14 - 15, 2017: Highly Fluorinated Compounds – Social and Scientific Discovery in Boston, Massachusetts. Save the date for this two-day conference, which will address the social, scientific, political, economic, and environmental health issues raised by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). A detailed program will be published online in early 2017. To be notified when registration opens, please send your email address to Stephanie Knutson.

November 4 - 8, 2017: APHA Annual Meeting & Expo in Atlanta, Georgia. The American Public Health Association (APHA) is now accepting abstracts for the APHA 2017 Annual Meeting & Expo. This year's theme is "Creating the Healthiest Nation: Climate Changes Health." Abstracts are due February 20 - 24 (see the APHA Abstract Submissions page for specific deadlines).

Funding Opportunities

Visit the PEPH Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA) page for more PEPH-related funding opportunities.

Addressing Health Disparities through Effective Interventions among Immigrant Populations (R01). Supports innovative research to develop and implement effective interventions to address health disparities among U.S. immigrant populations. Deadline: February 5, 2017.

Spatial Uncertainty: Data, Modeling, and Communication (R01). Supports innovative research that identifies sources of spatial uncertainty in public health data, incorporates the inaccuracy or instability into statistical methods, and develops novel tools to visualize the nature and consequences of spatial uncertainty. Deadline: February 5, 2017.

Environmental Exposures and Health: Exploration of Non-Traditional Settings (R01, R21). Encourages interdisciplinary research aimed at promoting health, preventing and limiting symptoms and disease, and reducing health disparities across the lifespan for those living or spending time in non-traditional settings (i.e., playgrounds and nursing homes). Deadlines: February 5, 2017 (R01); February 16, 2017 (R21).

Research to Action: Assessing and Addressing Community Exposures to Environmental Contaminants (R01). Encourages applications using community-engaged research methods to investigate the potential health risks of environmental exposures of concern to the community and to implement an environmental public health action plan based on research findings. Deadline: February 5, 2017.

Education and Health: New Frontiers (R01, R03, R21). Supports research that will further elucidate the pathways involved in the relationship between education and health outcomes and in doing so to carefully identify the specific aspects and qualities of education that are responsible for this relationship and what the mediating factors are that affect the nature of the causal relationship. Deadlines: February 5, 2017 (R01); February 16, 2017 (R03, R21).

Four Directions Summer Research Program (FDSRP) is an exciting summer research opportunity at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital for undergraduate students with a commitment to the health of Native American communities. Students are invited to join FDSRP for 8 weeks to engage in basic science or translational research projects under the supervision of Harvard Medical School faculty advisers. Deadline: February 6, 2017.

Rosenblith New Investigator Award. This award from the Health Effects Institute funds research on the health effects of air pollution. Scientists at the Assistant Professor or equivalent level holding a Ph.D., Sc.D., M.D., D.V.M., or Dr.P.H. degree or equivalent are eligible to apply. Deadline: February 15, 2017.

Health Disparities and Alzheimer's Disease (R01). Supports research to study health disparities in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and related disorders. Health-disparities research related to AD should include the study of biological, behavioral, sociocultural, and environmental factors that influence population-level health differences. Deadline: February 5, 2017.

Using a Total Environment Framework (Built, Natural, Social Environments) to Assess Lifelong Health Effects of Chemical Exposures. The U.S. EPA, through its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, seeks applications for research on how pollution affects human health in the context of the total environment – built, natural, and social environments interacting together with inherent characteristics and interactions. Deadline: March 2, 2017.

Research on the Health of Women of Underrepresented, Understudied, and Underreported (U3) Populations (Administrative Supplement). The purpose of this FOA is to provide Administrative Supplements to active NIH parent grants for one year to address health disparities among women of populations in the U.S. who are underrepresented, understudied, and/or underreported in biomedical research. Deadline: March 6, 2017.

Partnerships to Achieve Health Equity. The Office of Minority Health seeks projects to demonstrate that multi-partner collaborations that address social determinants of health and have a nationwide or regional reach, focus, or impact can efficiently and effectively do one of the following: (1) improve access to and utilization of care by racial and ethnic minority and/or disadvantaged populations; (2) develop innovative models for managing multiple chronic conditions; (3) increase the diversity of the health workforce; or (4) increase data availability and utilization of data that increases the knowledge base regarding health disparities and facilitates the development, implementation, and assessment of health equity activities. Deadline: March 31, 2017. A Technical Assistance webinar will be held February 22, 2017 at 3:00 p.m. EST.

Public Participation in STEM Research. The National Science Foundation (NSF) encourages proposals for (a) Research Coordination Networks to build Public Participation in STEM Research (PPSR) capacity and community; (b) conference proposals to bring together specific communities and to envision future directions for PPSR activities; and (c) PPSR-focused supplements to existing NSF-funded awards that enhance existing research activities through the introduction of PPSR components. Deadline: April 11, 2017.

Interventions for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in Native American Populations (R01). The purpose of this FOA is to develop, adapt, and test the effectiveness of health promotion and disease prevention interventions in Native American populations. Deadline: May 12, 2017 (application); a letter of intent is due 30 days before the application due date.

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