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NIEHS at Endocrine Society Meeting

By Robin Mackar
January 2009

Jerry Heindel, Ph.D.
Heindel has taken a leading role in NIEHS efforts to promote research into endocrine disruptors and their health effects. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

William Schrader, Ph.D.
Trainees at NIEHS and elsewhere have benefited from Schrader's experience in government, academia and the private sector. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

NIEHS continues its tradition of having an impressive presence at the Endocrine Society's Annual Meeting. Even before the official meeting kicked off in Washington June 10-12, Jerry Heindel, Ph.D., program administrator in the Division of Extramural Research and Training (DERT) was giving the keynote presentation and leading a discussion on the topic of government and public health protection at a June 9 pre-conference focusing on the current state of knowledge about endocrine disruptors.

The daylong forum, "The 2nd Endocrine Society Forum on Endocrine Disruptors: Best Science for Risk Management and Policy," sponsored by the American Thyroid Association, the Society for Toxicology and the Society for the Study of Reproduction offered approximately 200 attendees an opportunity to hear experts from around the world discuss the latest evidence on endocrine disrupting chemicals and their effects on human health. Heindel was especially pleased to have others join in as co-sponsors of the forum. "Having big international societies joining us in sponsoring this event is a major step forward for the field. Endocrine disrupting chemicals is no longer an obscure area of research, but one that all disciplines can embrace."

Heindel's presentation focused on the breadth of science now available on endocrine disrupting chemicals and the role that scientists, societies and organizations can play in making sure that science gets used to improve public health. "It's not enough to just conduct and support the science - we also have to make sure it is used," Heindel stated. Heindel discussed the progress being made in the field, especially in animal and in vitro studies, and provided examples that demonstrate the impact that endocrine disrupting chemicals are having on human disease. He called on scientists to provide data that is useful for policy decisions and clinical practice. On June 12, Heindel also led a presentation that highlighted endocrine disruptor research at NIEHS.

Heindel pointed out that that NIEHS was instrumental in supporting this second major forum focused on endocrine disruptors as it was with the first forum in 2005. R. Thomas Zoeller, Ph.D., from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, spearheaded this year's event with an NIEHS conference grant.

Another watershed moment at the annual meeting came when the Endocrine Society unveiled its first-ever scientific statement identifying endocrine-disrupting chemicals as a significant concern to public health (  Download Adobe ReaderExit NIEHS (42 KB) (see also related story ( The statement presents evidence on the health effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals as well as recommendations for increasing understanding and raising awareness of these effects.

"Within this statement we also make a number of recommendations to increase understanding of the effects of endocrine disruptors," said Robert M. Carey, M.D., president of The Endocrine Society. "The recommendations include enhancing basic and clinical research, and advocating involvement of individual and scientific society stakeholders in communicating and implementing changes in public policy and awareness."

Others from NIEHS, including William Schrader, Ph.D. John Cidlowski, Ph.D., Kenneth Korach, Ph.D., and a number of fellows from the Division of Intramural Research, also participated in events at the annual meeting ( Exit NIEHS and were pleased with the attention endocrine disruptors are receiving from The Endocrine Society. Both Korach and Cidlowski are previous Edwin B. Astwood Award winners.

Schrader, who serves as NIEHS deputy scientific director overseeing postdoctoral training and career development at NIEHS, was in his element as he participated in the society's annual Endocrine Trainee Day. The highly interactive sessions provided opportunities for 275 graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and clinical fellows to hear from people in the field about a variety of topics including career development opportunities. Schrader served as plenary speaker in the Basic Science Track - one of three concurrent program tracks offered to the attendees. Schrader also gave a talk on "Preparing for and Giving a Job Seminar" during the skills breakout session.

(Robin Mackar is the news director in the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison and a regular contributor to the Environmental Factor.)

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