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Chris Portier Named Associate Director for Risk Assessment

By Robin Mackar and Colleen Chandler
February 2006

Chris Portier (NIEHS file photo)
Chris Portier (NIEHS file photo)

Christopher Portier, Ph.D., who served as associate director of the National Toxicology Program, is now associate director for risk assessment at NIEHS.

NIEHS Director David Schwartz initiated the change, saying it is in keeping with the Institute's renewed interest in using environmental health sciences to understand human disease and improve human health.

Meanwhile, Allen Dearry Ph.D., who most recently served as the director of the NIEHS Division of Research, Coordination, Planning and Translation, will act as the interim associate director of the NTP. A national search for a permanent NTP associate director will begin in the next three to six months.

In his new position, Portier will oversee and coordinate risk assessment activities within NIEHS, working to ensure the availability of toxicological study results for use in national and international efforts to assess human health risks of chemical, drugs, and physical agents.

"Dr. Portier has done an extraordinary job in overseeing the activities of the National Toxicology Program, and has developed strong relationships with scientists all over the world. This new NIEHS leadership role will allow him an opportunity to merge the fields of toxicology and environmental health sciences and prepare the world for tomorrow's health challenges," Schwartz said.

Portier came to NIEHS as a post doctoral student in 1981, and in 25 years held a number of positions within the Institute. He led the Environmental Systems Biology group in the Laboratory of Molecular Toxicology. Most recently, he served as the associate director of the National Toxicology Program and as director of the DIR Environmental Toxicology Program.

The culmination of Portier's efforts at the NTP is exemplified by his role in developing the landmark document "A National Toxicology Program for the 21st Century: A Roadmap for the Future," which was released in 2005 as part of the NTP 25th Anniversary Celebration in Washington, D.C. The NTP Roadmap outlines a framework by which the NTP will modify, adapt, and improve its programs to better address its mandate in providing scientific information for protection of public health.

Some of the many other accomplishments achieved by Portier while at the NTP include developing the first-ever evaluation guideline for non-cancer endpoints as part of the NTP's Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction. The NTP also played a lead role in developing a High Throughput Screening Initiative, which will enable large numbers of environmental substances to be screened for potential health hazards.

The NTP is an interagency program whose mission is to coordinate, conduct, and communicate toxicological research across the U.S. government. It is administratively housed at the NIEHS and issues the biennial Report on Carcinogens. The NIEHS director dually serves as the director of the NTP.

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