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Your Environment. Your Health.

PEPH E-News June 2018

Volume 9, Issue 6: June 2018

PEPH E-News Header

Using Art for Culturally Relevant Research Translation

beaded doubl helix
The artwork above compares DNA repair to the creation of beaded items in Native American culture. When a beaded necklace comes undone, the stones/beads are restrung by using what is already there. The use of the flower design symbolizes the idea of regrowth.

NIEHS-funded scientists at the University of New Mexico (UNM) are partnering with a local artist to turn complex environmental health concepts into meaningful images for Native American communities. The research-artist team is using well-recognized symbols from tribal partners in research to facilitate discussions and promote understanding about scientific concepts related to their health risks and the results of ongoing research.

UNM's Center for Native American Environmental Health Equity Research reached out to Mallery Quetawki, a Native American artist-in-residence, to help translate Center research to their diverse tribal partners. The Center collaborates with the Navajo Nation, the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe in South Dakota, and the Crow tribe in Montana on a range of environmental health issues.

"It is important to make sure that Center research is communicated in a way that is culturally relevant and meaningful to our tribal partner communities," said Melissa Gonzales, Ph.D., who co-directs the Center.

Center investigators are working to understand how these tribal communities are uniquely exposed to metal mixtures from abandoned uranium mines in the western U.S. Because the tribes rely on natural resources to maintain traditional diets, lifestyles, and customs, they are exposed to metals in the water, soil, and air from the mines. These Center researchers are studying how uranium and other metals impact DNA repair and immunity.

Combining science and art helps raise environmental health literacy in a culturally appropriate manner by bridging western scientific concepts and traditional knowledge. For example, Quetawki created paintings to communicate the concept of DNA damage. "This is an abstract concept, and we heard from communities that it was difficult to understand because it is an internal biological process that can't be seen," noted Gonzales. The paintings show how the process of DNA repair is like restringing a traditional beaded necklace.

Quetawki has also developed intricate paintings to translate messages about the immune system and how it protects the body from outside influences. "The immune system is essentially there to protect you," Gonzales said. "To communicate this, we used tribal cultural symbols that represent protection and immunity."

The Center is jointly funded by NIEHS, the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Johnnye Lewis, Ph.D., co-directs the Center with Gonzales.

PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast Series

PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast

In our latest podcast, Circadian Rhythm and Your Health, learn about why people who work night shifts and are frequently exposed to nighttime light have increased rates of certain types of cancer. We also share tips for maintaining a normal, healthy circadian rhythm and getting a good night's sleep.

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

PEPH Webinar: Translational Research Framework

Join us on June 13, 2018 from noon to 1:00 p.m. EDT for the next PEPH webinar in which we will discuss an exciting new NIEHS framework that will help researchers, partners, and stakeholders work together to communicate how their research has evolved and progressed. Registration is required.

PEPH Grantee Highlight: Melissa Gonzales, Ph.D.

Melissa Gonzales, Ph.D., is an associate professor at the University of New Mexico (UNM) who leads community engagement and research efforts to address exposures and health disparities experienced by Native American communities in the western United States. One of the issues she focuses on is how metals from mining waste threaten the health of nearby tribal communities. "We're focused on building capacity within the tribes to understand their exposures to mining waste, to speak for themselves, and to conduct their own risk assessments," she said. Gonzales co-directs the UNM Center for Native American Environmental Health Equity Research and is a researcher within the UNM Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center. Read the grantee highlight to learn more.

PEPH in the May NIEHS Environmental Factor

All of Us Research Program begins enrollment. The All of Us Research Program announces national enrollment of adults form all backgrounds, regardless of health status.

High school scientist at NIEHS-funded program wins big. Natalia Orlovsky won second place and $175,000 for research conducted at the Penn Center for Excellence in Environmental Toxicology.

NIEHS celebrates Earth Day with music and science. A unique mix of science and music drew an enthusiastic crowd April 22 for an NIEHS-sponsored Earth Day celebration in Durham, North Carolina.

Talented group of scholars presents results. Participants in the 2018 NIEHS Scholars Connect Program present their research at the program's Spring Symposium.

Women's Health Awareness Day empowers participants from 27 counties. More than 650 people gathered for Women's Health Awareness Day, with education, screenings, medical services, and other resources.

Resources for National Healthy Homes Month

National Healthy Homes Month is a month-long campaign in June offering an opportunity to raise awareness around the connection between housing and health and to provide families with healthy homes resources. The PEPH Network has created many healthy home resources that we encourage you to share throughout the month. Use the hashtags #NHHM2018 and #HealthyHomes to participate in the conversation!

Request for Information: Strategies for Enhancing Postdoctoral Career Transitions to Promote Faculty Diversity

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) seeks input on approaches that will enhance the transitions of productive postdoctoral scientists from diverse backgrounds, including groups underrepresented in biomedical research, into independent faculty positions at research-intensive institutions. This Request for Information (RFI) will assist NIGMS in identifying, developing, and implementing strategies that will allow the biomedical enterprise to benefit from a more diverse research workforce – namely, a broader variety of perspectives to address complex scientific problems, more robust learning environments, improved global competitiveness, and enhanced public trust. Submit a response by July 20, 2018.

From Ideation to Actuality: Identifying Connections Between Creative Professionals and Scientists

From Ideation to Actuality, a volunteer research study, invites scientists, artists, and creative professionals to take a 10- to 15-minute survey about their creative/intellectual process and how they communicate ideas. The objective of the study is to collect data that will help with the design of curricula and workshops. The project's creators will draw on survey results to help scientists better communicate research around topics such as environmental pollution, public health, and climate change, with a focus on women in STEM.

From Ideation to Actuality was created by Christine O'Connell, Ph.D., an assistant professor of science communication at Stony Brook University, and Karen Ingram, an artist who uses her skills to promote scientific awareness.

Upcoming PEPH-Related Events

June 6, 2018: Global Environmental Health Day at NIEHS in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. NIEHS invites you to its third annual Global Environmental Health Day: "Global Environmental Health Research Translation and Lessons Learned." The event also will be webcast.

June 25 - 26, 2018: Tribal Environmental Health Summit in Corvallis, Oregon. The theme of the Summit is: "Sustaining Long-Term Partnerships and Projects with Native American Communities."

August 26 - 30, 2018: 2018 ISES-ISEE Joint Annual Meeting in Ottawa, Canada. The meeting theme is: "Addressing Complex Local and Global Issues in Environmental Exposure and Health."

November 10 - 14, 2018: American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting & Expo in San Diego, California. This year's theme is: "Creating the Healthiest Nation: Health Equity Now."

December 13 - 14, 2018: Save the date for the Partnerships for Environmental Public Health Annual Meeting! The meeting will be held at NIEHS in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Stay tuned for more information.

Funding Opportunities

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

Collaborative Activities to Expedite Environmental Health Science Research, Translation, and Community Engagement Across EHS Core Centers (Admin Supp - Clinical Trial Not Allowed). These administrative supplements provide funds to awarded P30 Environmental Health Sciences Core Centers to enhance interactions across Centers to address emerging issues and to advance research, translational research, and community engagement. Deadline: June 7, 2018.

NIH Support for Conferences and Scientific Meetings (Parent R13). Supports investigator-initiated scientific meetings. NIEHS is interested in supporting meetings that will advance the field of environmental health sciences. Deadlines: July 1, 2018 (letter requesting permission (LRP) to submit application); August 12, 2018 (application). See the NIEHS Conference Grant webpage for information about the types of conferences and meetings the Institute is interested in supporting, as well as LRP guidelines.

Addressing Health Disparities through Effective Interventions among Immigrant Populations (R01 Clinical Trial Optional). Supports innovative research to develop and implement effective interventions to address health disparities among U.S. immigrant populations. Deadline: June 5, 2018.

Research to Action: Assessing and Addressing Community Exposures to Environmental Contaminants (R01 Clinical Trial Optional). 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: June 5, 2018. Check out the Research to Action Currently Funded Grantees webpage for a sense of the types of projects supported through this FOA.

Environmental Exposures and Health: Exploration of Non-Traditional Settings (R01 and R21 Clinical Trial Optional). 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: June 5, 2018 (R01); June 16, 2018 (R21).

Interactive Digital Media STEM Resources for Pre-College and Informal Science Education Audiences (STTR) (R41/R42 Clinical Trial Not Allowed). Provides opportunities for eligible small business concerns to submit NIH Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant applications to develop interactive digital media science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) resources that address student career choice and health and medicine topics for: (1) pre-kindergarten to grade 12 students and pre- and in-service teachers or (2) informal science education (i.e., outside the classroom). Deadline: September 5, 2018.

Interactive Digital Media STEM Resources for Pre-College and Informal Science Education Audiences (SBIR) (R43/R44 Clinical Trial Not Allowed). Provides opportunities for eligible small business concerns to submit NIH Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant applications to develop interactive digital media science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) resources that address student career choice and health and medicine topics for: (1) pre-kindergarten to grade 12 students and pre- and in-service teachers or (2) informal science education (i.e., outside the classroom). Deadline: September 5, 2018.

Collaborative Minority Health and Health Disparities Research with Tribal Epidemiology Centers (R01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed). Supports collaborative research between Tribal Epidemiology Centers and extramural investigators on topics related to minority health and health disparities in American Indian / Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations. Deadline: December 4, 2018.

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