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Your Environment. Your Health.

Partnerships for Environmental Public Health

PEPH Newsletter

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Volume 11, Issue 1: January 2020

A Revitalized Riverfront in Malden Is Underway Thanks to Leventhal City Prize

The Malden Works Team will create a public space along the Malden River in Massachusetts to improve community health and recreation opportunities with a $100,000 grant awarded by the Norman B. Leventhal City Prize. Led by NIEHS grantee Kathleen Vandiver, Ph.D., the team of environmental advocates, community leaders, and government officials will work with the Department of Public Works to revitalize a city-owned parcel of land along Malden’s industrial riverfront.

Manufacturing on the Malden River in the 1930s contaminated river soils with waste from chemical factories, coal plants, and rubber manufacturing plants. Later, other manufacturers paved the property and fenced off the river, blocking Malden residents’ access to their own natural resource.

“For so long, people didn’t even know that we [Malden] have a river,” said Malden’s Mayor and Malden Works ex officio member, Gary Christenson. “We have a real opportunity to do something special here. With the Leventhal City Prize, we have a path forward to not only redeveloping the site but doing so with all of our residents and business leaders involved.”

According to Vandiver, who directs the Community Engagement Core within the NIEHS-funded Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Environmental Health Sciences (CEHS), the project’s most ambitious goal is to broaden and diversify civic participation in community development. A Steering Committee of leaders from Malden’s diverse immigrant groups who are currently underrepresented in governance will guide the project and provide opportunities for community participation in decision making.

The Malden Works Team poses for a picture together

The Malden Works Team, from left, Evan Spetrini, Senior Planner, Malden Redevelopment Authority; Marie Law Adams, Lecturer, MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning; Gary Christenson, Mayor, City of Malden; Marcia Manong, Malden Resident; Kathleen Vandiver, MIT Center for Environmental Health Sciences; Karen Buck, President, Friends of the Malden River; Amber Christoffersen, Greenways Director, Mystic River Watershed Association.
(Photo courtesy of Jonah Susskind, MIT Department of Urban Studies)

The project builds on six years of collaboration between the Malden community and CEHS’s Community Engagement Core. Most recently, Vandiver helped coordinate a human health risk assessment to address a long-held community concern about health risks associated with boating on the river. CEHS funded the lab analyses and collaborated with other organizations to produce the risk assessment report. The results showed that health risks for cancer are negligible for recreational boating on the river.

“In the absence of a rigorous health risk analysis, ‘stay away from the water’ has been the logical and appropriate precautionary advice given to the public in prior years. This report represents a breakthrough for the recreational use of the river for boating,” explained Vandiver at a televised meeting of Malden City Councilors in April 2019.

The risk assessment results played a key role in winning the Leventhal City Prize and gaining the city’s support to redevelop the site.

“We envision that the river will become a place where people can gather and walk and really enjoy being out in nature and surroundings that are healthy,” said Vandiver.

The Norman B. Leventhal City Prize is a new interdisciplinary prize aimed at catalyzing innovative urban design and planning approaches worldwide to improve both the environment and quality of life. It was established in honor of Norman B. Leventhal, the visionary developer and philanthropist whose contributions transformed Boston’s urban landscape.

PBS NewsHour Features NIEHS-Funded Study on Greenness and Health

A new PBS NewsHour segment features a first-of-its-kind study funded by NIEHS and the Nature Conservancy to examine the impact of neighborhood green spaces on heart health. Called Green Heart Louisville, the study is an ambitious effort to plant and maintain around 8,000 trees, shrubs, and grasses in Louisville, Kentucky neighborhoods and monitor changes in air pollution and physical and mental health over a two-year period. Led by NIEHS grantee Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D., researchers will compare the results to those from neighborhoods that did not receive new green vegetation. Watch the PBS NewsHour segment and read a January 2019 NIEHS Environmental Factor article to learn more about the project.

Vélez Vega Wins Social Justice Award

NIEHS grantee Carmen Vélez Vega, Ph.D., was awarded the 2019 Helen Rodriquez-Trias Social Justice Award for her public health education work in Puerto Rico during the outbreak of the Zika virus and in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Vélez Vega, who leads the Community Engagement Core within the NIEHS-funded Superfund Research Program Center at Northeastern University, spearheaded efforts to educate communities about ways to avoid Zika infection and the health risks of drinking contaminated water following the hurricane. She also coordinated the creation of resource kits for community members, which included mosquito nets to prevent Zika virus infections and water filters, baby formula, batteries, and other items to address immediate needs after Hurricane Maria. Presented annually at the American Public Health Association meeting, the Helen Rodriquez-Trias Award honors individuals with a strong track record of working for social justice for underserved and disadvantaged populations.

Read more about Vélez Vega in her PEPH Grantee Highlight.

NIH Requests Input on Increasing the Diversity of Applications to the High-Risk, High-Reward Research Program

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) seeks input from the scientific community about factors that may contribute to underrepresentation of women, underrepresented groups, and geographically diverse institutions in the applicant pool of the Common Fund’s High-Risk, High-Reward (HRHR) Research Program, as well as approaches it might take to increase applicant diversity. The HRHR program fosters scientific leaps by supporting individuals of exceptional creativity who propose unusually innovative research with the potential for broad impact.

Responses to this Request for Information (RFI) will be accepted through January 15, 2020. All comments will be considered anonymous and must be submitted via email to

NIH Requests Feedback on a Draft Data Management and Sharing Policy

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeking public comments on a Draft NIH Policy for Data Management and Sharing and Supplemental Draft Guidance. The purpose of the policy is to promote effective and efficient data management and sharing practices to further NIH's commitment to making the results and accomplishments of the research it funds and conducts available to the public. In addition, NIH encourages input on strategies for promoting responsible data management and sharing practices when broad data sharing may not be appropriate, such as when working with tribal populations. Submit comments on the NIH Office of Science Policy website by January 10, 2020.

Young adult female with young girl sitting on a sofa looking at a cellphone together

PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast Series

Harnessing Social Media to Share Science on Breast Cancer and the Environment

In our latest podcast, Harnessing Social Media to Share Science on Breast Cancer and the Environment, hear how health communication researchers are improving online information and messages about breast cancer. Plus, learn how they are teaming with social media influencers to help people understand and reduce their risk.

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

Listen to more PEPH Podcasts
Cheyenne Grabiec
PEPH Grantee Highlight

Cheyenne Grabiec

Seeing a connection between the state of the environment and the health of people within the Navajo Nation inspired Cheyenne Grabiec to educate indigenous communities and scientists about environmental health issues. Grabiec, of the Navajo Nation, spearheaded several environmental health education and engagement efforts through the NIEHS-funded Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center at the University of Arizona. For example, he organized community-based events, called science cafes, where scientists discuss environmental health issues with community members and youth engage in hands-on activities to learn more about environmental health sciences. He also led development of an Indigenous Inquiry Framework, which guides scientists to design and implement projects in collaboration with tribal partners, placing indigenous culture at the center of research.

Read more about Grantee

Funding Opportunities

Application Due Date Jan 21 2020
Research to Action: Assessing and Addressing Community Exposures to Environmental Contaminants (R01 Clinical Trial Optional)

Encourages multidisciplinary projects to investigate the potential health risks of environmental exposures of concern to a community and to implement an environmental public health action plan based on research findings. Projects supported under this program are expected to employ community-engaged research methods to not only conduct research but also to seamlessly translate research findings into public health action. Check out the Research to Action Currently Funded Grantees webpage for a sense of the types of projects supported through this FOA.

Deadline: January 21, 2020

Application Due Date Jan 25 2020
Support of Competitive Research (SCORE) Pilot Project Award (SC2 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

SCORE is a developmental program designed to increase the research competitiveness of faculty and the research base at institutions with an explicitly stated historical mission and/or a demonstrated track record within the previous 10 years of training and graduating students from backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical research. Eligible institutions must award science degrees to undergraduate (B.S. or B.A.) and/or graduate (M.S. or Ph.D.) students and have received less than $6 million per year of NIH R01 support (total costs) in each of the last two fiscal years. The Pilot Project Award (SC2) is for those who are at the beginning stages of a research career, applying for their first non-fellowship research award, and who are interested in testing a new idea or generating preliminary data.

Deadline: January 25, 2020

Application Due Date Jan 25 2020
Support of Competitive Research (SCORE) Research Advancement Award (SC1 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

SCORE is a developmental program designed to increase the research competitiveness of faculty and the research base at institutions with an explicitly stated historical mission and/or a demonstrated track record within the previous 10 years of training and graduating students from backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical research. Eligible institutions must award science degrees to undergraduate (B.S. or B.A.) and/or graduate (M.S. or Ph.D.) students and have received less than $6 million per year of NIH R01 support (total costs) in each of the last two fiscal years. The Research Advancement Award (SC1) is for investigators with a track record of research activity who are seeking to enhance their research productivity to transition to non-SCORE support in a limited period.

Deadline: January 25, 2020

Application Due Date Jan 28 2020
Notice of Special Interest: Research on the Health of Women of Understudied, Underrepresented, and Underreported (U3) Populations (Admin Supp Clinical Trial Optional)

The Office of Research on Women's Health will fund administrative supplements to support research highlighting health disparities among women in the U.S. who are underrepresented, understudied, and underreported (U3) in biomedical research. The proposed research must address at least one objective from Strategic Goals 1, 2, or 3 of the 2019-2023 Trans-NIH Strategic Plan for Women's Health Research: Advancing Science for the Health of Women.

Deadline: January 28, 2020

Application Due Date Feb 16 2020
Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health

(R01 Clinical Trial Optional; R21 Clinical Trial Optional; R03 Clinical Trial Not Allowed). Supports innovative approaches to identifying, understanding, and developing strategies for overcoming barriers to the adoption, adaptation, integration, scale-up, and sustainability of evidence-based interventions, tools, policies, and guidelines. Conversely, there is a benefit in understanding circumstances that create a need to stop or reduce (“de-implement”) the use of interventions that are ineffective, unproven, low-value, or harmful. In addition, studies to advance dissemination and implementation research methods and measures are encouraged.

Deadline: February 05, 2020 (R01), February 16, 2020 (R03 and R21)
Letter of Intent: Due 30 days prior to the application due date.

Application Due Date Feb 07 2020
Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving Cooperative Agreement Program

Funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving (EJCPS) Cooperative Agreement Program supports community-based organizations, tribes, and tribal organizations seeking to address environmental and public health concerns in local underserved communities through collaboration with other stakeholders, such as local businesses and industry, local government, medical service providers, and academia. See the EJCPS Request for Applications webpage for the schedule of informational pre-application assistance calls.

Deadline: February 07, 2020.

Application Due Date Feb 27 2020
Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Availability of Administrative and Revision Supplements to Expand Vaping Research and Understand EVALI

Calls for research on the causes, disease mechanisms, and long-term prognosis of individuals with electronic cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury (EVALI) and related health effects of vaping. See the NOSI for the research interests and eligible activity codes for participating institutes and centers.

Deadline: February 27, 2020.

Application Due Date Mar 04 2020
Leveraging Health Information Technology (Health IT) to Address Minority Health and Health Disparities (R01 Clinical Trial Optional)

Supports research that examines how health information technology adoption impacts minority health and health disparity populations in access to care, quality of care, patient engagement, and health outcomes.

Deadline: March 04, 2020

Application Due Date Mar 09 2020
Environmental Influences on Aging: Effects of Extreme Weather and Disaster Events on Aging Populations (PAR-19-250)

Supports research to advance our understanding of the impact of extreme weather and disaster events in aging human populations. With the companion FOA (PAR-19-249), which focuses on underlying mechanisms of aging utilizing animal models, these two FOAs will help to explicate the behavioral, biological, and socioecological processes that occur during extreme weather or disaster events that affect aging processes. Through the integration of the population studies and the companion mechanistic studies FOA, the goal is to improve the health and well-being of older adults via increased knowledge about extreme weather and disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.

Deadline: March 9, 2020

Letter of Intent: Due 30 days prior to the application due date.

Application Due Date Mar 11 2020
Interdisciplinary Research Leaders Program

Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), Interdisciplinary Research Leaders is a leadership program for teams of two researchers and one community partner. In addition to engaging in leadership training and building new networks, each team designs a research project addressing health and equity in their community. Project topics for the 2020 program must address one of two themes: (1) Community Environment and Health or (2) Families and Child Health. Applications open January 10, 2020.

Deadline: March 11, 2020 (The application timeline is subject to change; see the How to Apply webpage for updates.)

Application Due Date Ongoing
Mechanism for Time-Sensitive Research Opportunities in Environmental Health Sciences (R21)

Supports environmental health research in which an unpredictable event provides a limited window of opportunity to collect human biological samples or environmental exposure data. The program aims to understand the consequences of natural and human-caused disasters or emerging environmental public health threats in the U.S. and abroad.
Deadline: See the Funding Opportunity Announcement for application due dates.

Visit the Funding Opportunity Announcements Page
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